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Showing posts from May, 2005

MP3 Podcasts replaced by Streaming Samples

Over the last few days we have completed the transition from offering MP3 clips for download to providing the same material as streaming samples. The last stages of this exercise involved rewriting the Podcasting sections of this blog and replacing all the podcasts with the relevant streaming sample - rewritng history very George Orwell. We are aware that there are probably copies of the original podcasts propogated at other sites but I suppose that there is some prospect that they will eventually be updated and over written. In any case they will be pretty hard to find - that is - unless you know different. We have taken this action in the light of concerns about the use of those samples as ring tones. So the next few weeks results are going to be very interesting as we track the changes in site usage patterns. I suppose we could always add an iritating voice over to some of the tracks and see if we can get to number one like that wretched frog. Continuing the Scott Joplin the

Widor's Toccata is Streaming Now

The Toccata from Widor's 5th Symphony is far and away the most frequently searched for track on the site this month - representing about 6% of the searches. Despite our generally alphabetical approach - our Widor sample clip has now been converted to streaming and you can hear it from this page: Toccata . We are using Flash technology which is installed in most people's browsers and is freely available for download from Macromedia to those who have yet to pick it up. In the next few days we will be withdrawing the LoFi MP3 clips from their current location but the HiFi versions are still available for purchase.

Mendelssohn MP3s Streaming

We converted our Mendelssohn page this morning and it has the sort of mix of streaming samples that we are aiming for. HiFi to presnt the full audio quality of our recordings and LoFi for a quick convenient presentation. If we thought that most of our listeners were on broadband connexions we would go over to HiFi completely but we will probably have to wait some time before we can do that. Here is an example of a HiFi stream from that page: Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No 1 in G minor Opus 25 . The stream will start automatically when the page loads - as ever comments welcome.

Good Progress

Over the last few days we have taken the streaming samples conversion as far as Joplin in the composer's alphabet and we are quite pleased with the impact on page layout. The streaming technology seems to be quite stable with a single retry fixing any glitches so far. So far we are just including the title and a copyright notice with the streamer in the track specific pages. Later we plan to experiment with inclusion of features such as Buy Now buttons. To continue this Blog introduction to new tracks - here is the brand new streaming sample page for Scott Joplin's Rose Leaf Rag Enjoy!

So Far So Good

There was no evidence of problems with the transition to streaming over the weekend so we have begun the conversion page. This is progressing alphabetically through the composers and will be completed on the topic pages such as Marches . Then we intend a retrospective update of this blog to replace the old podcasts. The main bulk of the work should be completed by the end of the month. Although the task is somewhat tedious it has provided a pleasant opportunity to review the content of our catalog and it really is quite encouraging. Here is the link to a LoFi streaming sample of one of Chopin's extraordinary Polonaise - the "Eroic" .

Plunging into the Stream

After more multi browser testing with mostly satisfactory results we have decided to take the plunge and replace the samples on our home page with streaming files. This also marks a change in our policy on podcasting - we have decided to stop - as of today. Instead we will provide HTML links to the pages which offer the streaming samples. Unlike the website where they are generated in a pop-up window this will be a normal browser page. So here is the link to the HiFi sample from Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor. You will need the latest version of Flash Player to be able to hear this and there is a link to Macromedia from our home page at If you experience any problems please let us know - thanks.

Browser compatibility

I had foolishly thought that this topic had been left behind but here we are again with a test pages that works fine on IE6 (XP), Firefox and Opera but won't play (literally) on IE6 2K. Since that represents more than half our visitors we have to have a fix before we can launch. I keep my IE 6.0 locked up behind its highest security settings because of the problems experienced with spyware and Firefox has become my default browser. The version of IE on XP doesn't seem to have exposed us in the same way or perhaps we have just been luckier there. So while we continue with the head scratching - here is a streaming sample (retro fitted): Eugenia by Scott Joplin - prettily rendered on steel drums and marimba in a lofi clip for your aural delectation.

Streaming Samples

Having seen the volume of sample downloads compared to purchases we have looked again at our approach and selected some streaming software to replace the straight forward sample mp3 downloads. We are aware that recording is possible but streaming is widely used by major sites and should reduce casual collection and misuse of our work. The software relies on Flash plugins for delivery of the sound but that seems to be pretty much ubiquitous. We are also going to take the opportunity to increase the availability of HiFi samples for those with broaderband connexions. There is obviously a clash here with our podcasting activity. It hadn't really occurred to us that our samples would be that useful but when you compare our LoFi clips with polyphonic ringtones you can see that there might be some attraction. No rash decisions - we are going to test this out gradually as we convert the site and see what we can be include in blogs. In the meantime today's former podcast is the oddly

Ragtime Launch Progress

The advice to website clients is always: " please be patient - the internet takes its own sweet time". It can take weeks for new content to register on the search engines or even press releases to register with relevant journalists. But with your own site you can't help but look. We know the search engine robots come round regularly - what is not always so obvious is how long the they take to respond to the content. Our object lesson this weekend is to find our new Joplin page well ranked for the obvious keywords within a few days of launch on Yahoo but nowhere else. Perhaps we just struck lucky with their schedule or they have nosed ahead of Google for update response times. Google have just updated their cache of our index page after six weeks, they pick up these blog pages pretty promptly but they still haven't registered the Joplin page. One or two of these blog pages even rank on of our more obscure keyword targets on Yahoo but not Google. Today's streami

Scott Joplin's Leafy Rags

After the initial success of the Maple Leaf Rag which was named for a short lived club in Sedalia, the small town near St Louis Missouri where he had settled down, Scott Joplin followed up with a whole range of plant names for his pieces and some more leaves. Included in our collection are the Rose Leaf Rag and more humorously the Fig Leaf Rag which is today's streaming sample. Joplin seems to have set the tone for Ragtime music and the use of eccentric titles because many of his successors also adopted peculiar titles - perhaps it was just a necessary part of the marketing mix for sheet music sales.

The Morning After

Yesterday was a big day - expanding the catalog by about 25% and opening up a new genre in the shape of Ragtime. It is not just the product and the page but all the minor adjustments to the site to complete, submitting the page to the search engines and doing the press release: Ragtime on Drums at Today Today saw the launch of 30 new world percussion arrangements of Scott Joplin Ragtime pieces at in straight forward MP3 format which can be heard on most MP3 players including iPods. They include the Maple Leaf Rag which was the first Rag to be published as sheet music in 1900 and lesser known pieces such as the Great Crush Collision March from a few years earlier. Scott Joplin is widely known as the "King of Ragtime", the son of an ex-slave who grew up in Texekarna, he was a talented musician who was lucky enough to receive a classical music education. He worked as a dance musician in towns and cities along the banks of the Missi

Ragtime on Steel Drums Launched

Today the long anticipated launch of Ragtime on steel drums has arrived. A Scot Joplin page with 30 of his works arranged on several combinations and permutations of steel drums with marimba, vibraphone, harp and selected synthesizers has just been added to our site. This collection is made up of Rags (including the Maple Leaf Rag which was the first one to be published and is today's streaming sample) Dances, Marches and Entertainments or Novelties including the Entertainer and Easy Winners which were featured in 'The Sting' movie. You can trace the developments of syncopation recorded here into the beginnings of Jazz especially in the work of people like Jelly Roll Morton. It is a fascinating step along the path that led to the development of today's popular music. This is our first departure from European classical music although Scott Joplin was strongly influenced by his classical music education and in his turn influenced European composers such as Debussy an

Even Broader Band

Yesterday our ISP upgraded our service from 500M downstream to 2G. The upstream speed is unchanged so it still takes a while to upload new MP3 files to the website but everything else is noticeably snappier. We will just have to extend our testing to include slower connexions to avoid getting out of step with our customers but in the meantime we can sit back and reflect how wonderful technology can be. It still surprises me that those twisted copper pairs can be made to deliver so much more bandwidth than the analog voice signal that they were designed to handle. And now a first for this blog - a global podcasting preview - exclusively for a day or two you can download a lofi clip from our arrangement of Country Club by Scott Joplin from this podcast. This is just a sample from the 30 track collection we have produced and are about to publish - enjoy!

Blog Links on Alta Visa

After a few months the penny dropped and I finally noticed that each of these blogs is being picked up on the Alta Vista Searchengine links page for . Alta Vista is now owned and managed by Yahoo and it is a long time since it was a major power in the search landscape. But it is still of interest because it publishes the longest list of links from other sites and it is the source of that information for Yahoo. Following Google's lead, links from other sites have been used as part of the page ranking algorithm by the major search engines for some time and as with Google they have had to find ways to filter out the junk links that would otherwise swamp the algorithm. What is not clear is the way Yahoo filters the Alta Vista list - on some sites it looks like it is simply a matter of time while on others there is a sustained gap - so we will continue to watch this with interest. Today's streaming sample is a LoFi clip from the Marionette Funeral March tha

Vivaldi Violin Concerto - max downloads

Daily inspection of the site stats usually produces predictable results but now and again you get a surprise. This week the number of people downloading the free Vivaldi Violin Concerto clip has gone through the roof - is someone circulating the link because they don't seem to be coming through site. I guess it could be republication of this blog somewhere. If anyone knows I'd be fascinated to hear from them. In the mean time here is a LoFi streaming sample from our steel drums arrangement of the Hornpipe from Handel 's Water Musik as your daily podcast - as always the full HiFi MP3 file is available to buy and download on .

Daily podcasting - any response?

As you may notice the readers of this blog are decidedly unresponsive - I have checked that the comment feature works so I don't think it is a technical problem. Part of the idea of the daily podcast is to see if there is any reaction to our treatment of much loved classics but it seems that this is no more effective than online press releases. However sales are starting to pick up - perhaps we should content ourselves with that as the most direct form of feedback we are likely to get. So today here is a streaming sample from another Debussy piano piece - L'isle joyeuse (Island of Joy) arranged on steel drums supported by a flying sine synthesizer.

What's next?

The next major addition to the collection will be Scott Joplin Ragtime tunes. These pieces are in production at the moment and the combination of marimba and steel drums is sounding very promising. All being well the page will be published the following week. Beyond that we are looking to augment the existing composers selections including orchestral as well as keyboard pieces. Maintaining the local weather theme, today's streaming sample is a clip from Debussy's Garden in the Rain - that's English summer time for you.

Web Traffic Reports

We haven't re- published other people's material here before but I found the following article interesting and decided to share it with others interested in distributing large files over this infrastructure: " Global Network Traffic on the Internet and You The fact that the Internet is also called the World Wide Web is well-known to all Internet users. People readily accept the fact that they can easily access web sites not only across the United States but around the world as well. While the average user may not understand how the Internet works, the average user is constantly looking for speedy access to information. How quickly information flows becomes important. If you picture the Internet as a highway, the flow of traffic is smoother and faster when there is less traffic on the highway. At peak rush hour, the highway is slower with the volume of traffic and an accident at any time of day can bring traffic on the highway to a halt. Applying this principle to th