Hey, remember those MIDI backgrounds so popular on some websites over the years? Sometimes the songs were great. Sometimes they really weren’t. For some people, the sound of “My Heart Will Go On” playing over a memorial site or “Crazy” (by Patsy Cline) playing over your personal weblog page was the height of tacky. For others, it was an initiation to tearing up and smiling while you read. Without a doubt, it certainly has led to millions of times, all throughout the world, of someone finding out the hard way how high their sound systems were turned up.
Naturally, a lot of the people using Geocities would have been partial to using MIDI, just as they were partial to using backgrounds or flashing animated GIFs or, for that matter, anything striking that got their page to be unique and special. In the interim period of time, we’ve had lots of ‘designers’ and aesthetic princes declare what we “should” and “shouldn’t” do, but back when anything went, anything did.
I’ve been putting a bunch of runs through on the Geocities data acquired so far, and pulling out thematic collections. I’ve assembled one of all these MIDI songs. Update: I’ve been informed some of this archive (a handful) are mp3 files mis-labelled. Sorry about that! Consider them a bonus.
MIDI is a very interesting format, with a very cool history, one told by others with great ability. I won’t duplicate those efforts. Like most formats, when done well, it can be done really well. When not done well, it’s easier to do but your audience pays for it and you bring the general quality down. Some of the files in this collection are great. Some are really awful. All are historical to some degree.
Here’s the link to a Pirate Bay Torrent. I’ve railed about how torrents are not the be-all end-all of file distribution, but for short-term bursts, it’s a great way to go. This collection’s about 370mb, compressed. It’s about 1.5 gigabytes uncompressed. It would take, I think, months to play all this music.
Let the songs begin.
EXTRA BONUS SECTION
Since I had the thousands of duplicated MIDI files in one place, I decided to find out which ones were most popular. With the caveat that I only worked with the Neighborhoods-era (pre-Yahoo) set, and of course many sites had disappeared before I ran my scripts, here are the top ten most popular songs that you could have show up on a Geocities site!
- 10. The 2001 theme (“Also sprach Zarathustra”) by Richard Strauss
- 9. “Hero” by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff
- 8. “Crazy” by Willie Nelson, made most famous by Patsy Cline
- 7. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
- 6. “Star Wars Theme” by John Williams
- 5. “Mission Impossible Theme (Remix)” by Lalo Schifrin and Unknown
- 4. “My Heart Will Go On” (theme from “Titanic”) by James Horner and Will Jennings
- 3. “Imagine” by John Lennon
- 2. “I’ve Got Friends (in Low Places)” by DeWayne Blackwell, Earl Bud Lee and Garth Brooks
- 1. “Theme from X-Files” by Mark Snow
Categorised as: computer history
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