A Free (Legal) Music Resource…and a Music Lesson on Genres

If you love Jorg’s music suggestions for Friday Favorites (and I know they resonate with many of you) then you will love this amazing resource for free legal music. I’ve gotten some amazing songs from this site and will occasionally put them up on the Friday Favorites for you.

Ektoplasm is the world’s number one source for free and legal psytrance, techno, and downtempo music.

(Note: if you do not care for electronic music of any kind, or your students will walk out if you play anything that sounds like techno, then this will not be the best resource for you. Don’t worry, I’m always on the lookout for music resources of all genres!)

Unfamiliar with all the genres available under the “electronic” umbrella? The following are some of the genres described on Ektoplazm, the best collection of descriptions I’ve ever seen. I’ve added my take on how some of them can be used for your indoor cycling profiles.

Techno: Hypnotic, pulsating beats. Machine music for body and mind. Here at Ektoplazm we usually restrict techno to the slower (<130 bpm) offerings, filing faster material under Techtrance.

Tech trance: Mechanical techno-influenced psychedelic progressive music, typically between 128 and 140 bpm. Anything slower and less trancy is filed under techno, and anything with a warmer, less mechanical feel can probably be found under progressive.

Progressive: Deep soothing beats, funky rhythms, and “slow-burning” sound development. Progressive psytrance takes time to build and typically clocks in anywhere from 130 to 142 BPM. Related styles: techtrance (darker more mechanical), techno (deeper, sometimes less psychedelic), and morning (for progressive releases with that morning vibe).

For indoor cycling, techno is usually a word that is applied to a sweeping range of music, often incorrectly designating anything that rings electronic as “techno” (by the uninformed that is). For the informed, techno, tech-trance and progressive apply wonderfully to climbing rhythms of 60-75-ish rpm. Many of these genres have segments of the song that build in energy, often up to a crescendo, followed by a momentary hesitation, and then an energetic release. This translates so well to anticipating a steeper or harder section where you stand up out of the saddle on the climb (during the buildup of energy), hesitate for a second as you roll over the top, and then sit down and pedal quickly downhill (breaking from the bpm of the song) for a short quick downhill as the energy speeds up. These energy breaks also are excellent for attacks and breakaways, such as in a stage race simulation.

Deep Trance: refers to hypnotic downtempo with a steady rhythm. It is essentially trance slowed down to anywhere from 100-120 (with a great deal of variation beyond that). See Downtempo.

For indoor cycling, if you rode to the beat, this could represent a slow climb (55-60-ish rpm on the half-beat) or ride to the exact beat at 100 rpm or more.

Goa: Anything with a hint of that golden age vibe. Where old school meets new school!

For indoor cycling, a definite “mind-body” experience!

Morning: Morning trance! Upbeat music to greet the rising sun. Usually applied to Goa, Full-on, or Progressive, but it may apply to other styles as well.

Tribal: Any sort of music with an authentic “tribal feel”, typically manifested through drumming and exotic vocals.

For indoor cycling classes, tribal helps bring out the animal in your students, most often on climbs. Use the drums to help them unleash their energy as they climb.

Downtempo: Broken beats, ambient soundscapes, chilled vibes, and slower music with a wide variety of moods and approaches. There are many related styles including spy dub (downtempo with an emphasis on dubby bass), deep trance (more of a steady beat and a trance focus), psybreaks (more uptempo but still broken beat), and ambient (typically beatless).

For indoor cycling, downtempo translates to rhythmic flat roads, often with moderate to fast cadences of 85 to 100 rpm, riding on the actual beat (and not the half-beat) of 80 to 100 bpm. Since the songs are often longer, they are superb for teaching your students to focus for longer segments—often at higher and higher cadences—while seated in the saddle. I find this range of bpm/rpm very difficult to find in other genres. Downtempo music has become some of my favorites.

Why is the music free? Here is their answer about free downloads:

Is the music on this site legal to download?

Yes, absolutely! The releases featured in the free music section have been gathered from a variety of content providers, all of whom have explicitly granted permission for people to download and share their work. Many releases featured here are licensed under the Creative Commons, while others are simply posted “as is” and are for promotional use only. Check the details on each individual posting. All releases are readily available for DJ use in sets and mixes but other uses (film, advertising, commercial licensing) are almost always restricted.

Read here about the Creative Commons License.

Ektoplazm does take donations.


1 Comment

  1. It says that DJs can fully use these songs. A Spin instructor is much like a DJ. Even if you purchase a song from iTunes or Amazon, it has the same restrictions that would apply to playing in a Spinning class. The iTunes agreement says “non-commercial use only” but group fitness classes have always fallen into that gray area. Therefore, a song from this source is the same as a song from iTunes once it’s legally in your library. Where you are in Australia, it is illegal to even play a purchased song in a Spinning class. I imagine that that would apply to a Creative Commons song too. Restrictions we do not yet have (thank God)!

    Will that ever come here to the US or Europe? If so, we are all screwed (or at least I am)! But as of yet, it is not illegal.

    What we cannot do however, is use it in a DVD or online or for any other commercial use, which is similar to any purchased song license agreement on iTunes (or wherever you purchase it).

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