A reader wrote to ask if there is a way of downloading the background music he hears on various web sites.
Yes, in most cases — but it can be a little tricky. Here's what you need to know: The background music is most likely a MIDI file or a WAV file. MIDI (musical instrument digital input) files are normally created by attaching an electronic keyboard to a computer, playing a song, and using special software that converts the song to a digital computer file.
WAV (Waveform Audio format) files are digital copies of live recordings done with regular musical instruments and vocalists.
It also helps to understand a little about the basics of constructing a web page with HTML (hypertext markup language), which is plain text in most respects. You can see a page's underlying HTML by clicking on View>Source. Somewhere in this Source Code the title of the musical file and its 3-letter extension (MID or WAV) can be found, such as IrishJig.mid. You can then mouse-select the filename and append it to the web page's URL (uniform resource locater) in the address bar by adding a forward slash and pasting the song's filename (such as: www.pcdon.com/IrishJig.mid).
Finally, press ENTER and the song should begin playing via Windows Media Player, at which point you can click File>Save As and use the prompts to save the file on your own hard drive.
The steps above can often be accomplished without any special effort, but there may be a number of variables along the way. For one thing, a song's filename might be spelled differently than you expect it to be, so it's best to search for the MID or WAV extension.
With the HTML file open, click Edit>Find and type in either .MID or .WAV (capital letters shown here for emphasis only). Finally, click Find Next to locate the complete filename. At this point, however, you may see the filename preceded by a forward slash and another word, such as Songs/IrishJig.mid. This means the target file is located in a folder named Songs and that you will need to select the whole thing before appending it to the URL, as in: www.pcdon.com/Songs/IrishJig.mid.
The reader's question was specifically in regard to the background music playing on a particular web page. However, all the above also applies to sites that display a collection of songs that can be played online, but which display no obvious way to download them.
Yes, I realize these instructions can be a bit intimidating to someone who has had no experience with web page construction and HTML. However, you are welcome to call and have me talk you through the steps over the phone. And in a worst case scenario, you can email me a page's URL and I'll see if I can extract the song to send you via return email.
For downloading instructions and legal disclaimer, see below...
© - Donald Ray Edrington - All Rights Reserved
Instructions for Downloading Songs from these Pages
If you have a Windows PC and Windows Media Player you
should have no problems downloading songs from these pages.
This is especially true if you have Windows XP
and Windows Media Player 10 or 11.
However, if other media players have been installed on your PC
(such as RealPlayer, Rhapsody, QuickTime, MusicMatch, or WinAmp,)
you may have all kinds of problems downloading music from this site.
- These songs can be downloaded via Internet Explorer by right-clicking the song's title and left-clicking Save Target As. (Firefox and Netscape users will left-click Save Link As).
- This will display the name of the song, its three letter extension (such as .mp 3, .wav, .wma, or .mid) and the name of the folder into which it will be saved (usually your My Music folder, which is inside your My Documents folder).
- If you do a single left-click on a song, it should open up in Windows Media Player and begin to play. On some computers, left-clicking a song will display a box with the song's name along with a PLAY or SAVE option. Clicking SAVE, will download the song to your PC as described above.
What you should know about various media players:
- Windows Media Player comes with all recent versions of Windows, and works seamlessly with most of the popular digital audio/video formats (such as MP 3, WMA, WAV, MID, ASF, MPG, and WMV).
- If you don't see the 3-letter filename extensions,
for instructions on fixing the problem.
- These formats will also play on RealPlayer, QuickTime, and most of the other media players.
- However, some of these other players tend to be very intrusive and will try to disable Window Media Player, along with steering you to web sites that want to sell you something — usually songs, albums, and upgrades to their media players.
- Unless you have some very compelling reason for using any player other than Windows Media Player, I would recommend uninstalling it and re-activating WMP.
- To uninstall a media player, click on Start>Control Panel>Add or Remove Programs. When you find the name of the player you want to remove, click on its name and choose Change/Remove. You'll be asked if you're sure you want to uninstall the program. Click Yes.
- Unfortunately, deleting a media player does not guarantee the program won't plague you in other ways. Its name may still be listed in your Startup Menu.
- Fix this by clicking Start>Run and typing msconfig into the field that appears. Click OK. In the window that opens click on the Startup tab (last one on the right).
- If the errant media player's name appears on the list, deselect the check box and click OK. If you are told you should restart your PC, click OK.
for more useful information about
- The reason songs sometimes work with one media player — and not another — is that their filename extensions (such as WMP) have been told to "associate" with one particular player.
- When you bought your Windows computer it came with Windows Media Player, and all the various music/video extensions were associated with WMP. If a different player is later installed (such as, say, QuickTime) you are asked which extensions you want associated with QuickTime. Most people click ALL, since they often don't understand the question and will do whatever is recommended by the player being installed.
- If you subsequently uninstall QuickTime, all your media filename extensions will continue looking for QuickTime, since they've not been told to return to their WMP status.
- Windows XP users can fix this by launching Windows Media Player 10 and clicking the little down-arrow (inverted pyramid) in the upper right corner. Then click Tools>Options>File Types. Click Select All to switch all media filename extensions back to WMP.
- Another option available to WinXP users is to right-click any song found on their hard drive (most are likely to be in the My Music folder). Then click Open With. Next click Choose Program, followed by clicking Windows Media Player. Finally, click Always Use the Selected Program to Open this Kind of File.
- If a song chosen in the above example was an WMA, all of your WMAs will now play via Windows Media Player when clicked. However, all your MID, MP 3, and WMV files will still be looking for QuickTime. The "Open With" procedure needs to be done with each music or video format.
- If you have a pre-XP version of Windows, it's best to uninstall Windows Media Player altogether and then install Windows Media Player 9, which can be downloaded from www.download.com.
- Following the above steps should reinstate WMP as your default media player. However, other media players which may have been installed on your PC will have placed dozens of entries in the Windows Registry. A page with instructions for removing these annoying hangers-on will be posted soon.
D I S C L A I M E R
I am occasionally asked if it's legal to download songs
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found on various non-commercial sites, such as this one.
Well, I'm neither a lawyer nor a technician, and I've begun
to wonder if it was legal for us to tape music off the radio
back when tape recorders first came into existence.
And were we committing a crime when we recorded
a movie shown on TV with our VCRs? And was it really
legal to buy a dual-deck audio recorder for the
express purpose of duplicating cassettes?
My answer to all of the above is, "I don't know."
Nonetheless, here is a statement in sort of a legalese
that appears to apply to this kind of file availability:
The songs on this site are copyrighted by their respective
artists and are placed here for evaluation purposes only.
Please support the artists you like by buying their
commercial CDs and downloads.
Questions or comments can be sent to: