So it turns out there's actually very little public domain music available -- at least in the USA. Even those 100 year old scritchy-scratchy recordings aren't in the public domain. Here's an explanation why:

The author of this page has an excellent list of public domain recordings here:

You will note a significant number of recordings from:

*** The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip *** 

At the time these were downloaded (April 2014) it was possible to retrieve these MP3s from this fairly low-tech site: 

These recordings may have moved as the Library of Congress is upgrading its archives. 


The remaining public domain music & spoken word samples you see in this folder were largely retrieved from:

PUBLIC DOMAIN MUSIC: public domain:


The George W. Bush Public Domain Audio Archive


Oyez: US Supreme Court Media

Project Gutenberg audio books

World English Bible audio