Written By Mark Wisniewski

Over the last decade, the Internet has become the single most important information retrieval tool for writers and researchers. The resource is no less valuable to musicians and students of music. Gone are the days of fruitless searches for our favorite import cd, time spent in vain trying to learn a favorite jazz lick or acquire an obscure piece of classical sheet music, hopeless reaches for a kindred spirit in the 50’s rockabilly culture, or endless pining for a rare antique instrument.The Internet will gladly handle just about any challenge we lay at its feet and is replete with a myriad of surprises and treasures along the way.

For the music fan, www.apple.com and www.napster.com (not your uncle’s napster – this one is completely legal and guilt free) each boast a database of at least a million songs available for download – for a nominal fee. Visitors enjoy 30-second song previews and have access to hundreds of exclusive tracks, prereleases and rare, out-of-print album titles. The days of splurging for a $20 compact disc with one good song and archives of mediocre music shrouded with dust are all but gone. Because record companies, artists and songwriters are now duly compensated, everyone wins. Of course, cd’s are still for sale for those who abhor change, and a large selection of titles can be purchased from sites like www.amazon.com and www.cdnow.com.

For the practicing musician, www.harmony-central.com is a wealth of valuable information. Young students, weekend hobbyists and professionals alike can click on the link for their instrument or subject of choice – guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, computer software & hardware, recording – and take free interactive lessons, scan classified ads, brush up on technique and participate in discussion forums. Guitarists can even “search the OLGA (OnLine Guitar Archive) for a huge collection of songs transcribed as tablature (a simplistic explanation of chord, scale and note fingerings), that can be a huge time saver when trying to learn how to play a favorite tune. A short (or lengthy) perusal of the “user reviews” section is perhaps most worthwhile, because anyone can gain priceless insight into literally thousands of field-tested product reviews that can save time and money in calculating a future purchase or protect a would-be consumer from an inferior quality “lemon.”

As for tracking down a piece of written music, musicroom.com is an e-commerce site devoted to enlightening musicians of all walks and abilities with sheet music (orchestral, instrumental, choral, big band – you name it) and instructional DVD & video. The site also serves as a resource for teachers, providing tuition books, coursework, theory, songbooks and music for schools.