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Showing posts from January, 2005

Keywords and optimization

After content creation and presentation one of the most critical steps on the path to effective search engine promotion is the identification of the language people use to search for the material you have to offer. I use the Wordtracker service which analyses a database of keywords used recently on some search engines. From this they estimate the volume of potential queries per day per keyword. Importantly they also check the level of competition on those keywords on the target search engines. It is all about identifying niches and going all out for them - the delicate judgments are around just how far you push the requirements of the robots over the expectations of visitors for intelligibility and decent English. Let's hope it's not too blatant this time - it is easy to get carried away if you are not careful. It is only in this way that new and smaller sites have any chance of establishing themselves on the vital first two results pages of any search. Now that we have

Liszt - Three approaches to a Hungarian Rhapsody

Liszt was not only a legendary virtuoso on the piano but also a composer concerned with particular forms. He invented the tone poem which was widely adopted by other composers but he was also interested in preserving others forms such as the Hungarian Rhapsody . We have partnered the steel band with Mega Moog, Vibraphone and Celtic Harp to bring out different aspects of the three Rhapsodies rendered here. In some ways this approach simply highlights a particular aspect of the piano's extraordinary capabilities and in others it is actually bring bringing out an aspect of the music it self and giving it more prominence. Hopefully this encourages more active listening to these sometimes familiar works and stimulates fresh insights into their subtleties and complexity.

Haydn, Hummel and Kreisler

Today's page is a bit of departure - I only had one usable track for each of these composers and so I have put them on the same page. Those of you who have noticed a certain alphabetical theme to recent posts are right - for want of any other methodical way of managing the selection process I have now settled into that routine. The Haydn concerto was a bit tricky because of the need to balance four independent forces and it was a late realisation that putting the Marimba in the lead role with steel drums in support would be more effective. The Hummel piece also took a bit of juggling to find the right balance - this is the first time I have used the Celtic Harp in this way but I think it comes off OK. Normally the Kreisler would be too shmaltzy for my taste but the percussion interpretation reduces some of the sugar content - see what you think.

George Frideric Handel on drums

It was nice with this page to be able to present examples of Handel's work from the wide range of musical forms in which he engaged so prolifically, including concerto, oratorio in the form of the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah , opera and of course the water music. For these pieces the steel drums have been combined in different ways with Marimba, growling Moog synthesizer and for Sheba's Arrival Pan flutes and Ocarinas. This gives a crisp feel to the music, minimising the trailing edges of the baroque flourishes and helping to expose the underlying counterpoint and harmony. The Concerti Grosso are emphasized by reviewers as some of the most sophisticated expression of his genius and it was satisfying to find that our approach worked well here as well.

Gounod - A French Composer in London

Researching the Charles Gounod page was interesting - I was relatively ignorant about the development of French music in the 19th Century and the contrast of mood between Faure and Gounod whilst using a much more chromatic approach was particularly thought provoking. It makes the developments of Debussy, Sati and Ravel much more intelligible. The Ave Maria not an obvious choice a percussion instrumentation but the addition of the harp has fills out the arrangment nicely. The Funeral March of the Marionette is a natural for this approach and makes me smile each time I listen to it. The Gallia was a completely new discovery for me - surprisingly the cantata seems to respond well to a drums and synthesizer insrtumentation - a very evocative piece pressaging the imagry of the destruction of modern warfare of Picasso's Guernica by nearly a century. The latter two works were composed during the time Gounod was staying in London to avoid the ravages of the Franco Prussian war.

Faure - Summer Holiday Composer

The Faure page has gone up now and there is a definit summery feel to some of his music and that in enhanced by the steel drums instrumentation in these arrangements. The Dolly Suite is a real trip down memory lane for me - it is remarkable how evocative a piece of music can be. Other peices such as the Barcarolle generate pictures in the imagination of meadows and warm breezes. This is defintitly music to smile to while the Nocturne is a more reflective piece and with the Sicilienne we are back in the sunshine again.

Dvorak - Humoresques

The Dvorak page went up today. Just three pieces but lovely memories of Prague. The Humoresque No 7 is probably one of the most famous pieces of its kind and the Slavonic Dance evokes a passionate commitment to Czech national culture - a kind of civilised individualism which is evident in the Republic today despite the best (or is that worst) efforts of two of the most repressive totalitarian regimes. There is more to come here when we get to grips with more complex orchestrations.

Brahms page added

Brahms music presented limited but exiting possibilities for a percussive interpretation and many of the sequencers have restricted their permission for use to non commercial applications. However the hungarian dances proved to be entertaining opportunities to use the steel drums with different harps including a wire harp and the celtic harp. The real find was the Brahms Variations on a theme by Paganini where the opening is very familliar but I had never really listened to the subsequent variations. The steel drums and harp treatment really bring it alive - this is not just an academic exercise but the creation of some delightful life affirming music. This work was sequenced by two brazilians who left their emial details in the file but placed no restrictions on usage. I tried the email addresses and googled their names to no effect and concluded that their work was now effectively in the public domain and that I am free to make it available. They are big files but i have

Getting a hearing

This seems to be the biggest issue facing an on line independant music publisher. Establishing a position on the major search engines and directories is a longer term task. As in every sector the the high volume keywords are very competitive and large long establsihed sites often have overwhelming advantages here. The independant needs to find the niches where there is evidence of interest in their kind of music and a chance that optimised pages will secure first page rankings. A launch press release generated no requests for review copies but I guess that is a matter of hammering away until you come up with an angle that catches a journalist's imagination.

Some commercial thoughts

In some ways the options for a independant online music publisher seem to be fairly limited. Althought the it is now possible to make work available - securing visibility remains an exceptional challenge. The MP3 format, a song lenght around 3 minutes and a unit price around $1 seem to have become de facto standards for the on line music industry. The file size/download times means that the market is biased towards those with broadband connections. The other main legal option is the subscription approach but I think that is only really viable for those with a large and diverse back catalog or a regular and high volume of new work being published. There are sites offering facilities for new bands etc but they don't sit well with an independant publisher. A few years ago the biggest barrier was processing online transactions for low unit prices. BitPass and PayPal have lowered that barrier and made this market much more accessible both in terms of reduced administrative and

Debussy - Children's Corner etc

Many of the Debussy MIDI files in my collection are subject to copyright as performance recodings but some are in the public domain and they provided some interesting challenges. I have sustained the commitment to the steel drums here but combined them with several other synthesizers to fit the demands of the piece. Although I was very familiar with Golliwog's Cakewalk the other pieces in the Children's Corner were much less familliar but great fun none the less. The impressionistic pieces - The Island of Joy and Garden in the Rain both seemed to respond well to a new treatment and continued to evoke the kind of visual imagry so characteristic of Debussy 's work.

Chopin - Dances with drums and harps

Chopin is one of the most popular classical composer on the internet and there are quite a number of good quality anonymous MIDI sequences available. These tracks were all sequenced with a combination of steel drums and harps of various kinds and in a couple of cases a Moog bass synthesizer was added to round out the mix. Dance music of this kind fits well with this percussive instrumentation. I had come across the benefits of the combination with the harp while following in Emerson Lake and Palmer's footsteps and putting new instrumentation on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. When you thinkabout how the piano is constructed it makes a certain kind of sense. Several different harps were used including the celtic harp which is a particularly effective emulation - quite different from the harp sounds that were available from my Roland or other software synths. The dances selected have a strong rythmic element which make them much more suitable for this treatm