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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 4, No. 7

A Short Guide to Classical Music on the Web

by Wah Keung Chan / April 1, 1999

Version française...

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.

The equipment

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 Internet Explorer.

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 your browser.

Next month we will look at purchasing classical music on the internet.

Version française...

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