General Reference (not necessarily on horn or music, just interesting sources of information on practically everything you can think of and some things you can’t…)
ChaCha – The answers to everything. Try their mobile app too.
Public Domain Sherpa – How do you know if a creative work (photo, book, music, software, etc.) is in the public domain? This site will save time, save money, and keep you out of trouble. It provides information and links to more information on how to find out if something is in the public domain. Be safe, not sorry, and respect copyright – by using this site.
Just Answer: Legal. Need a definitive legal answer on that public domain question quick and cheap? This site has a couple dozen lawyers connected to it at all times. The site is a little coy about the cost; it only says “name your price – Place a refundable good faith deposit.” This site also has links to other ask-an-expert sites online: medical, mechanical, etc.
Arts & Letters Daily – Not a reference site per se, but a terrific sampler of fascinating current articles from all over the web on many, many arts topics.
fiverr – “The world’s largest marketplace for small services, starting at $5”. Everyone has too much to do, not enough time to do it. Thanks to fiver (sic), help is not only on the way, it’s here, and for a very modest price. The idea is that people advertise services that they are good at and that they will do for you for $5. This is almost anything. Examples (and we are not making these up) of what you can get for $5: Drum lesson; “I will sing a depressing Happy Birthday as a mouse”; prepare the front page of Time magazine with you on the cover, Show you how to market yourself and your business; write a 600 word WordPress blog entry, Answer any programming question (software); Draw a custom cartoon portrait; Professionally master your audio track; Teach you how to sing; Compose an original 30-60 second piano piece; Show you how to prepare for an interview; Juggle a chainsaw and knives while yelling anything you want; Design a flyer, business card, brochure or web banner; Cut a coffee or cupcake stencil by laser; Do your German homework; Get you plans for a chicken coop; Design a simple web site; Be your Photoshop assistant for 2 hours… You get the idea. You can also simply fill out a request: “I’m looking for someone who will ___________”
Poll Daddy – Survey/polling/quiz software
Education Collection – Microsoft Office offers a vast assortment of templates for teachers of every level. A few: award certificates, brochures, budgets, contracts, calendars, diagrams, flash cards, forms, invitations, invoices, letters, lists, notes, outlines, papers, planners, quizzes, resumés, schedules, surveys, and more. For a list of the subcategories of all templates, click here.
Refdesk – comprehensive “fact checker for the internet” – instant connection with every reference site imaginable. Sign up for their reference site of the day. If you had to pick one mother-of-all-reference sites, this is it.
Howjsay – i.e. “How Do You Say [=Pronounce]”. Ever wonder how to pronounce “microphyllum”? Glabrescent? Apyrous? Scissiparous? Scorpaenoidea? English can be a tricky language to pronounce, even for native speakers. Howjsay.com is a “talking dictionary of English pronunciation” and will help you out with practically any English word.
Flashcard Exchange – web-based flashcards, “world’s largest flashcard library”. Especially useful for subjects like science or language(s), but there are music flashcards (28 pages, 50 card set links per page!), e.g. for music theory, musical terms, music history, composers, chords *& scales, etc. You can create your own flashcard sets.
10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About (But Should) – free university level content
Reference.com – another great one: dictionary, thesaurus, quotes, encyclopedia, translator, word of the day, daily crossword, word games, more.
Encyclopedia.com – colorful site with 57,000 articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia. It will also search 100 or so other encyclopedias and dictionaries for you.
Martindale’s Reference Desk – links to pretty much everything there is. Samples: Language Center, Internet Center, Business & Economics, Computer Engineering, Science, 23,825 calculators online, Mathematics Center, Agriculture Center, Transportation, Fashion, Entertainment & the Arts, Flight School, Cars, Cryptography, Food & Recipies, Livestock, Photography, World Maps,Physics, Archeology, Interactive Sign Language & Braille, Hearing Test, Eye Test, and on and on and on and on….
The Music Center includes CDs, Music Dictionaries, Composition, Acoustics, Theory, Lessons, Conducting, Orchestration, instruments (including the horn), much more.
Online Doctorate Degree – “the only nonprofit web site dedicated exclusively to providing students considering obtaining a doctorate degree with unbiased online resources…” Also: database of accredited schools that offer doctorate degree; listed alphabetically by state.
Purdue University Library Quick Reference – Lots here: links to almanacs and factbooks, art & images, biographical resources, books & journals, career & education, consumer information, dictionaries & encyclopedias, directories, finance, government, health, science & technology, search tools, travel, writing resources, more.
Templates – of every kind, courtesy Microsoft office, e.g. Databases, agendas, books, brochures, catalogs, budgets, email business cards, calendars, flash cards, greeting cards, postcards, recipe cards, charts, tickets, coupons, awards, diagrams, contracts, envelopes, flyers, ads, posters, forms, applications, ballots, invitations, invoices, labels, letterheads, letters, lists, memos, newsletters, presentations, records, CVs & resumés, schedules, logs, ledgers, music paper, stationery, and more.
iTunes University – Access iTunes U with iTunes or your iTouch or iPhone. “A powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours… an innovative way to [distribute] educational content…” “More than 250,000 free lectures, videos, films and other resources – from all over the world.”
Manuals Online – a source owner’s manuals to practically everything that needs one: appliances, electronics, cars, power tools, home & garden stuff, office equipment, outdoor stuff, and – yes, musical instruments (by which they mean mostly electronic keyboards, drums, and guitar effects pedals).
Coursera – free online college courses (partners with 30 top universities). Lots of tech, but also some music, e.g.: Introduction to Improvisation, Songwriting, How Music Works, Listening to World Music
Udacity – free online college courses; learning through projects – all free. Computer science, web design, etc. – no music.
edX – online college courses – free. Courses from MIT, Harvard, UC-Berkeley. Science, software, etc. – no music.
udemy – online courses for a fee (depends on the course – some are $9, some are $500; many between $50 and $100) in various subjects (e.g. web design, app creation, Excel, Photoshop, HTML, yoga, cake decorating, photography, logo design, etc.) – different from other free course sites in that it partners with individual professors, not universities.
VYou.com – “Conversational video” site. Get or give advice or have video conversations with people (including experts) from all over. Type in questions, get video response (of person answering the question).
Random.org – Generates random numbers. Use it to generate how many times you should, for example, practice your F# harmonic minor scale today…
50 Ways to Take Notes (online) – categories: Quick Public Pages, Basic Note Taking, Development, Online Documents, Voice Recording, Start Pages, Online Databases
Google Sites – “a free and easy way to create and share webpages.” Single-click page creation. Customizable look and feel. Pre-built page templates. Settings for accessing and sharing information.
USA.gov – terrific comprehensive site on government information of all kinds. Headings: Benefits & Grants, Consumer Guides, Defense & International, Environment…, Family, Home & Community, Health & Nutrition, History, Arts & Culture, Jobs & Education, Money & Taxes, Public Safety & Law, Reference & General Government, Science & Technology, Travel & Recreation, Voting & Elections.
Encyclopedia Smithsonian – A way to search the Smithsonian’s 2 million records with images, video files, electronic journals, and other resources.
Thinkmeter -“ …helps you make good decisions.”
Interfolio – online service for sending letters of recommendation, online portfolio, applications, managing & showcasing academic and professional credentials for applications to positions in higher education.
iTools – Slick, elegant multireference site that provides links to all kinds of internet “tools”: Search tools (search engines, web directories, newsgroups, video), Language tools (dictionaries, terminology, theasauruses, crossword solvers), Research Tools (Encyclopedias, newspapers & magazines, biographies, quotations), Financial tools (currency converter), Map tools (maps, driving directions), Internet tools (web, network, html tools), People Search Tools (address & phone, lookup by phone number, email address, international).
SurveyMonkey – create your own online survey
About.com – find information about just about everything – 19th century history, acne, woodworking, yoga, birding, celiac disease, Feng Shui, exotic pets, French food, you name it, they have it.
50 Mind–Mapping Tools for College Students – online programs to help you organize, outline, and think more clearly
Word lovers should not miss Vocabulary.com and Visual Thesaurus, both brain children of Ben Zimmer, who just took over the NYT’s “On Language” column. Links to similar sites as Cambridge Dictionaries, UsingEnglish, Academic Word List, Education Oasis, and more.
Clip Art – lots of free clip art for your presentations courtesy Microsoft Office. Many categories: academic, animals, borders, food, nature, people, special occasions, symbols, travel, etc.
Vector Stock – “largest royalty-free vector-only stock agency.” A search for “music” turned up 534 pages of vector art. “Horn” turned up 62 pages. “French horn” – 1 page (10 files).
Ready, Net, Go! – index of archival indexes
Textbook Revolution – “Student-run site dedicated to increasing the use of free educational materials by teachers and professors.”
Scholarpedia – like Wikipedia, except that articles are peer-reviewed and written by scholars.
English Scholar – links and more links: authors, citations & formatting, grammar, reference, quotations, rhetoric ,Shakespeare, teacher resources, writing, more.
Intute – “Helping you find the best websites for study and research.” This link goes directly to the Creative and Performing Arts section.
Classic Movies – free public domain movie downloads
eHow – “How to do just about everything”
Instructables – Do It Yourself instruction on how to to Practically Anything/Everything (except maybe horn), e.g. homemade biscuits, DIY BBQ, Making a three stone diamond engagement ring, how to make tofu, 8 ft. folding kayak, iPod speaker from a Hallmark music card, digiridoo from a used Xmas tree, etc etc etc.
Answerbag – ask a question about anything, or be an expert and answer the question of others in our specialty.
JustAnswer – for a very reasonable price, your query will be answered by an online expert. Areas: Electronics, appliances, law, taxes, cars, medical & dental, pets, computers, languages, parenting, relationships, and more.
Infoplease – Almanacs, atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, features, quizzes, timelines, news, history, sports, biography, links, and much much more.
Wikipedia – the 10 ton open source gorilla of online encyclopedias – anyone/everyone can edit or contribute articles. Caveat lector.
Wikimedia – center for all the Wiki projects: Wikipedia, Wikitionary, Wikisource, MediaWiki, WikiNews, WikiMedia, Wikiversity, Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks, Wikipecies
Delicious – “social bookmarking” site; “biggest colleciton of bookmarks in the universe”. Word of mouth on what’s popular, interesting, and fun.
Digg – similar to delicious.com, with perhaps a bit more emphasis on technology. Don’t look at either of these if you have work to do. But if you’re all done…
OpenPDF – a search for free pdf files on the web.
PDF eBooks – search engine for finding free eBooks in downloadable pdf format. “255,000,000 books” ! Includes tutorials. Many languages.
CutePDF – create PDF files; add, delete, rotate, resize, reorder pages; add stamps, overlays, headers, footers. Windows only.
From Old Books – 2,600 hi-res free images scanned from 160+ old/rare books.
About.com – no matter how obscure your information request, you’ll probably run into someone at About who knows something about it.
Fact Check – by the Annenberg Public Policy Center
Bug Me Not – bypass compulsory registration on internet sites
Library of Congress – everything about everything
Library of Congress Research Tools – includes links to the L.o.C. Online Catalog, Prints & Photos, SONIC (database about the LoC’s 78 rpm & 45 rpm phonograph disks), access to over 300 other library online catalogs, thesauri, LoC primary source finding aids, and more.
WorldCat – “The world’s largest network of library content and services.” Lets you search the collections of libraries locally and around the world (10,000!). Find books, music, videos, research articles, audiobooks and other digital articles; you can review items or contribute facts. Create your own free account, lists of items you’d like to track or share with others, build bibliographies, get plug-ins for Foxfire or Facebook, even try some “planned serendipity.”
Bookwire – find libraries around the world, plus many links, e.g. book reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, book in print, many more.
Biblioscape – “ultimate librarian’s reference” – including bibliographic database (Library of Congress, library catalogs, Fed. news service, ElectricLibrary), Libraries on the web, Library Reference Center, Repository of Primary Sources, Libweb, University home pages, online encyclopedias, desktop reference, research funding, (GrantsWeb, etc.), financial aid, academic organizations, and much more.
Open Library – “One web page for every book ever published”. A kind of vast Wiki catalog – anyone can contribute. Hugely ambitious: 20 million records so far. Try a search for “French horn” see what you get. You can learn what’s out there plus basic information about nearly any book: title, author, publisher, Library of Congress number, pages, etc. Sometimes it has the Table of Contents (you may add one if they don’t have it!). If you get lucky, you may come across full text articles/books and can read it online.
The Free Library – “17,692,395 articles and books.” Free full-text versions of classic literary works. Recently expanded to include a massive collection of periodicals from hundreds of leading publications on many subjects, containing millions of articles back to 1984.
Library Spot – lists of libraries online, newspapers, poetry, archives, maps, current events, dictionaries, magazines, podcasts, speeches, acronyms, almanacs, associations, Ask an Expert, encyclopedias, thesaursi, quotations, statistics, zip codes, and much more; their section on music is here.
Internet Public Library – now called ipl2 – a merger of the Internet Public Library and the Librarian’s Internet Index. Includes Resources by Subject, Newspapers & Magazines, Special Collections created by ipl2. Look for Music links under “Entertainment and Leisure”, not Arts & Humanities.
Internet Reference Shelf – web resources compiled by the Library of Congress
Internet Archive – “a digital library of internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.” “Universal access to all knowledge.” No kidding: this is a phenomenal site. I.A. now includes tests, audio, moving images , software, and archived web pages. This is a kind of digital Library of Alexandria. Text Archive is here. Check out their movie library – free movies, films & videos.
New York Public Library – Gateway to vast resources of every kind.
The British Library – 10,000 pages on main web site; 30K items in online Gallery; 14 million items in catalogue; 9 million journal articles from 20K journals. Rule, Britannia!
Libweb – library servers via the www. 7900+ pages from libraries in 146 countries.
Libdex – directory of libraries around the world
Library Catalogs Worldwide – Links to library catalogs around the world, by Yale University
Libraries and Library Catalogs – by Penn State
List of National and State Libraries
Center for Research Libraries – consortium of North American universities, colleges and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching. These resources are then made available to member institutions cooperatively, through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery. Includes special collection databases (US ethnic newspapers, foreign doctoral dissertations, etc.)
The European Library – “search the content of European national libraries”
LibrarySpot – Online reference site of vast scope. A sampling of their links: Online libraries (of every sort), news, magazines, podcasts, poetry, speeches, almanacs, associations, Ask an Expert, biographies, countries, current events, dictionaries, encyclopedias, grammar, people, public records, how to, quotations, statistics, white pages, maps, zip codes and a whole lot more.
Foreign Language Dictionaries, etc.
Canoo Net – Mark Twain said that “life is too short to learn German.” He is probably right if you don’t have access to a web site like this, which features (both in English and German) 1) Dictionaries – search of multiple mono- and bilingual dictionaries, word and sentence grammar, word formation rules, spelling (rules, spell check). Put in a word in the Search field and you get all kinds of links to meaning and especially – complete verb forms, tenses, etc. A lifesaver if you are learning German in any form.
Conjugation – French verbs – Not as extensive as Canoo is for German, but terrifically quick and easy to use in generating French verb conjugations. C’est merveille!
Reverso – is a good conjugator for verbs in French, German, Spanish, and English.
German-English Dictionary – now you have no excuse for not knowing what Strauss, Mahler, and Hindemith are telling you about how to play their music.
French-English Dictionary – ditto for the French composers
French Professor – is the excellent French language resource by and for Francophiles. Contains links to French-English dictionaries of all sorts, plus information and links on French lessons, culture, and movies. We are indebted to alert reader Becky Casen for calling our attention to this link.
OneLook Dictionary – Your choice of searches for English definitions, reverse dictionary, or translations. Useful list of search examples, e.g. using blue* to find words and phrases that begin with blue, or bl????rd to find words that start with bl, end with rd, and have 4 other letters in between, and other wildcard searches. List (with links) of 116 general dictionaries and glossaries, plus other lists of specialized dictionaries in Art, Business, Computing, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Religion, Science, Slang, Sports, Technology. Slick.
Babelfish – quick translation of almost any language
Lexicool – a directory of all online bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and glossaries on the internet (7500 in total!). Plus: links to translation and interpreting courses, translator software, foreign language fonts, and more.
Forvo – “All the words in the world pronounced by native speakers.” Sign in and you can be a “pronouncer” too. Currently: 741,263 words, 645,887 pronunciations in 258 languages.
Google Translate – translate text, web page, or document
Language Learning Library – free online language learning resources: grammar, common phrases, nouns, numbers, telling time, alphabet, dictionaries, cultural information.
Wakerupper – One of Time Magazine’s 50 top web sites: it sends you phone reminder calls for dates/times you don’t want to miss.
Hard to Find 800 Numbers – easy way to find toll-free 800 numbers to contact businesses (Amazon, Yahoo, et al); includes ways to speak to a human being right away.
800notes – free reverse phone lookup; a database built by users. Find out who is calling your why. Report telemarketing calls. Report phone fraud.
Contact Help – search engine to provide customer service numbers. You can add, edit, or comment (including give them ratings) on listings.
Switchboard – excellent directory to find a person, car, business, or search the web.
LucyPhone – never wait on hold again.
The Ultimates – searches 25 net services at once for phone, address, reverse cell phone search, yellow pages, email.
Google is not only everyone’s 1st choice search engine, but it offers a host of other features for the web-wise, including:
Images, Videos, Email (Gmail), Maps, Google Earth (geographical info), Calendar (if you have a gmail account – same for the following items), Documents (create, share spread sheets or text docs), photos (store, share photos), Reader (subscribe to blogs, follow people who share publicly), Sites (create/share your own web site for free), blog search, Book Search (find books, search full text of books, download books, search reference texts, create your own Google library of your favorite books), Blog Search, Scholar (search scholarly papers), Blogger (create your own blog for free), Groups (create your own mailing list/discussion group), YouTube, and more. Google also offers a “Custom Search Engines” (CSE) that search within certain topics (Arts, Bloggers, Business, Computers, Educators, etc.). Just added: Call Phone – call cell phones and landlines from your computer through Gmail (with a small add-on piece of software).
To be a power Google user, see Google Search Shortcuts cheat sheet.
Web Search Essentials – terrific how-to and set of links for everything about searching the web, by Wendy Boswell.
Non-Google Search Engines:
DuckDuckGo – Clear, clean, like Google; to tell the truth, we like DDG’s search results even better than Google’s…
YubNub – “social command line for the Web”. Create your own shortcuts to search the Web more quickly and efficiently.
Addictomatic – gives you search results from Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Ask, YouTube, Truveo, Flickr, Blinkx, Ice Rocket, Digg, Topix, Newsvine, and many blogs.
Boolify – clever advance searching options using graphic versions of search modifiers “word”, “and”, “not”, “or”, and “URL.”
Exalead – Google competition; it has a thumbnail of the website image along with the suggested link. It has a few beyond-Google bells and whistles: a column on the right side gives the site type, multimedia, file type, a list of related terms, languages the links appear in, and country where the links originate. If you click on a country, it will show only results from that country. Nice.
Blinkx – lets you search 35 million audio and video files
Blekko – filters out a lot of chaff from the wheat, fewer but more useful answers
ChaCha – “get answers fast about everything”; or use with your phone: Text your question to 24 22 42 and you’ll get an answer back.
usa.gov – mammoth search engine for the US government information on practically everything
BrainBoost – Ask a question, and BB sorts through the search results and answers the question.
Kngine – “designed to provide meaningful search results”: write your question in sentence form.
Clusty – Not only lists links, but puts results into “clusters” of related topics so that you can review related links together.
Bing – Microsoft’s new competition for Google. Attractive layout.
Yahoo Search – the look is very Google…. Caveat: intersperses sponsors with search results
Ask – ditto, but so does everyone…
Education World – search engine for education +lots of resources, references, and article archive
Picsearch – image search engine
Dogpile – is a meta-search engine that collects the results of several search engines
Jux2 – another meta search engine that compares results from Google, Yahoo and MSN in one search
Infomine – “Scholarly Internet Resource Collections”
Mahalo – a “human-powered search directory that uses actual human editors to compile results alongside Google-powered results.”
Hakia – a “general purpose semantic search engine” focused on quality of web site, not popularity. A search for “French horn” instanlty yielded a number of results, all classified under categories: Origin of the instrument, How to Buy, Images, Famous Brands, Lessons and Videos, Find a Job/Gig, Photographs and Pictures, Parts & Accessories, and more.
Cuil – Cuil is the Irish word for knowledge. Searches are based on content and relevance, not popularity (a shot at Google…), analyzing the web rather than users. Cuil claims to search 3X more web pages than Google.
SearchMe – lets you search within a category, so that, for instance, a search for “horn” doesn’t turn up mountain goats.
Twine – “Discover information that matters to you. Collect and share bookmarks and other content. Receive recommendations based on your interests.”
Wolfram Alpha – for anything remotely to do with computation, conversion, calculation, or computation, this is the new 10 ton gorilla in town. You can even ask it stuff like “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?” “Is the cake a lie?” “Why does the sun shine?”. “How many roads must a man walk down?”.
Kosmix – what’s happening on the web right now.
Wikia – “find and collaborate with people who love what you love.”
Blog Search Engines
Technorati – searches 22 milion blogs to find what you’re looking for.
Google Blog Search