A Short Guide to Classical Music on the Webby Wah Keung Chan
/ April 1, 1999
According to a survey conducted in May 1998, a surprising
forty percent of readers of La Scena Musicale have access to the internet. With the
"NET" still the buzz word, this number is sure to increase. Some enterprises
such as the ubiquitous Amazon.com, have been quick to
try to capitalize on the internet classical music community, but by and large, the
majority of classical music information is still provided free by musicians and devotees.
What follows is a brief guide to finding classical music on the web. Specific links will
be found in the LSM Online version of this article, at www.scena.org.
To be connected to the internet, one needs a reasonably new
computer with good speakers and a modem, internet access, and the right software. For
internet audio on the Windows environment, a 486 is sufficient, while for intense graphics
a pentium-based machine is a must. For the Macintosh, you need at least a PowerPC-based
computer and machines based on the G3 chip are highly recommended — Apple's iMac fits
perfectly. The speed of the modem is essential and the current industry standard of 56.6K
suffices for current applications. One also needs a subscription to an internet service
provider (ISP) at a monthly cost of $20-30, and a phone line. For those who don't like to
wait for page loadings, several fast internet options exist with speeds up to 10 times the
conventional modem-phone line setup - it also frees up a phone line. The high-speed Cable
modem provided through local cable distributors was the first to be available. Phone
companies now have ADSL service that allows one to talk and surf the net through the same
phone line. Look TV will be offering wireless cable modem access later in the spring.
Service costs about $40 per month, excluding installation and modem rental charges. This
setup allows you to get on the net with your favourite browser: Netscape or Microsoft's
Classical Music News
Most major local and international newspapers have online
versions with content ranging from complete (The National Post), to access for the last
seven days (The Globe and Mail), to selective top stories (The Montreal Gazette). Other
newspapers such as The New York Times and The Financial Times require a registration to
obtain a free login ID. Finding classical music content on each site can be a challenge
when searching by key words. The best writings on classical music on the web are linked
from LSM Online.
La Scena Musicale was one of the first classical music
magazines to be available free on the web. Others, such as Parterre Box, specialize in
opera gossip. Newsstand sales magazines such as Opera News provide subscribers access to
all articles, while visitors can read only 20% of the articles, although additional
articles can be found by using some wit in recognizing their naming conventions. A lot of
news and gossip can be had found through internet newsgroups such as rec.music.classical
and rec.music.opera. Email lists such as opera-l, vocalist and choralist
are for the devoted; the volume of posts each day can be overwelming. The conventional
advice on netiquette is: Read the messages from the last two days before participating.
Various information sources are available on music trivia. NPR's Today in Classical
Music in Classical Music History is an interesting read every morning.
The internet is also useful for finding performance
information. Many arts groups have web sites. LSM Online contains LSM Interactive, the Canadian Interactive Classical Music
Database. Other web sites specialize in opera performances around the world.
Audio on the Internet
Several classical radio stations are available
"Live" on the internet. Having continuous streaming audio played through the
computer's speakers or the headphones beats the monotony of working at the keyboard. The
standard for internet audio has been the Real Player by Real Audio; the software must be
downloaded and installed. The new standard MP3 has the industry abuzz due to its superior
CD-like quality. Major recording companies have been slow in providing audio clips of
their CDs. Bouquets go to Nimbus, Naxos and CBC Records for being the first to provide a
long list of 3-5 minutes excerpts. Visit the LSM's Audio
page for links.
For those interested in classical music information, visit
LSM Online www.scena.org and make it the start page on
Next month we will look at purchasing classical music on