China has a long and varied musical heritage that encompasses several genres of music, including both instrumental and vocal songs. Whether you're already a fan of Chinese music or want to discover something new, you can find free downloads of all the different varieties of this branch of world music online.
Where to Find Free Chinese Music
From traditional Chinese folk music to current pop songs, these sites offer free downloads for you to add to your music collection.
Last.fm offers approximately 500 traditional, Taiwanese, Cantonese and pop songs from China's underground music scene. Each song may be downloaded as a versatile MP3 file that you can play on your PC, Macintosh, or portable device. Click on the 'Free MP3' button beside a song to begin the transfer. Last.FM also lets you sort songs by common tags, or register and learn how you can get songs recommended to you based on your previous download history.
Chinese MP3 includes numerous classic Chinese songs, as well as an extensive modern collection from artists such as Lesie Cheung, Mavis Fun and Eason Chan. This is a good source for traditional Chinese music downloads. The site also includes full albums as well as lyrics for each track. Each song is in MP3 format and may be accessed by clicking the 'Download' button on the corresponding album page.
Foreigners in China
Foreigners in China offers a small list of authentic, traditional Chinese songs. The only stipulation is that you must first sign up for the E-Zine For Foreigners in China, which is also free. Afterward, click the 'Download' label by a song to obtain it in MP3 format. Many of the songs are described in detail on the site, offering the background and story of each piece. After listening you can write a review, or browse the reviews left by others.
Chinese Tools provides access to numerous Chinese songs, including the latest hits, teenager songs, pop songs, r&b songs and even classic Chinese rock songs. All the files come in the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, which requires the Windows operating system to play. Next to each song is a 'Download' button. Lyrics are also included with each song, though you need Chinese-language software to read it.
Legal Sources for Chinese Downloads
When searching for free song sources, ensure you remain within the bounds of federal and state laws by examining the source before downloading. Legitimate sites always contain an 'About' section or description of their terms, where the founders specify the site's mission and discuss the legalities of what they do. Be wary, because the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sometimes sues individuals who download illegal music. Since 2003 the RIAA has sued hundreds of everyday people for illegally downloading or copying music.
Bringing the World to Your Doorstep
Taking advantage of free music downloads offers fans an easy way to discover new music from around the world. The rich cultural history of Chinese songs is now available to anyone, and you can sample almost any genre without a monetary investment. Broaden your musical horizons with catchy pop tunes, classic instrumentals, and traditional folk songs from China.