The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Classical MP3 blogging? 

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Koreyel, in a comment on Tofuhut's totally awesome list of MP3 blogs laments "Still no classical....". It's something I occasionally toy with. Mostly when I feel like completely whoring myself to my hit counter (by far the most popular single post on this site was the one with the crazy organ accompanist, also the only post linking to a soundfile hosted by me), although there is also the obvious value in hearing the stuff I'm talking about - especially when it often falls under people's radar, and isn't exactly regular at your local symphony hall.

However, much as I am an advocate of making music distribution as open and as easy as possible, I confess to being a bit soft about ripping music and whacking it up on my own site sans permission. Whatever the moral questions about MP3 blogging - and morally I think audiobloggers are, in the main, in the right - it is still, straightforwardly, illegal. And I'm a wimp. Listening to the stuff, even recording a copy for your own use, well that's even cleaner - and a more legally grey area too, since it's pretty much the same as taping off the radio, so I have no problem with that at all and do it quite a bit. But, well... there's a fair to good chance that I'll have to deal with music publishers regularly for most of my professional life, so I don't want to alienate them all too early on.

There are also other complications with classical MP3 blogging. For one, classical tracks tend to be much longer than the usual 4-minute song you get on 90% of blogs. 20+ MB is quite a big ask for a single file, for both user and server space/bandwidth. There's the corresponding time to listen, too. Most of us with day jobs do our blog reading in the gaps - it's one of the strengths of the medium, I believe, that items are necessarily packaged so small. Compared to the three-course dinner of the printed press, blogs are plates of canapes drifting at intervals through the room. A 4-minute slice of electro/J-pop/soul/exotica/grime is the perfect aural counterpart to a 400-word rant about Tony Blair or the neighbours, or the sort of writing that is sharp and brilliant and makes you think refreshingly hard for the few minutes it takes your coffee to cool down - the sort of writing that is all over the web. I have huge admiration for really long blog theses that reduce my scroll bar to a small square - you wrote all this? for little us? - but I rarely actually read a post like that all the way through. Certainly not on the screen - if it's really good I'll print it and save it for the next tube journey. But only if. So uploading 20-30 minutes of instrumental music flies in the face of this somewhat, it doesn't fit the way in which I - and I'm sure most other people - actually use blogs. Who can take the time in their coffeebreak to listen to a symphony, even if we'd want to?

Maybe the solution to all of this is to post just samples. Not full works, but short movements, or even snipped chnks of pieces. That would be contingent upon me getting the appopriate MP3 editing software of course. And if I was going to do this, I'd want to rip a lot of the vinyl that I've started collecting (and that often has little or no chance of ever seeing CD reissue), so I'd need a computer with an audio in jack (and more software). So we're some way off from the possibility in any case. Who knows, maybe one day I will. I'm not short of music that I think the world ought to hear, that's for certain.

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