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Showing posts from June, 2005

One Month On

We can see a months worth of results of change of policy from simple free samples to streaming downloads of those same samples. The big change is the reduction in sample downloads to just over 20% of the previous level while visitor levels appear to have leveled off somewhat. It seems that we were correct in identifying unintended use of and interest in our short LoFi MP3 samples and our counter measures have been effective so far. Naturally there has been no comment about our change of tack. There was a technical problem uploading yesterday's blog so there are two today. Just to complete the JS Bach Toccata set here is a LoFi streaming sample from No 2 - enjoy!

Relevance scores on MSN

Back from the seaside and what do we find but MSN have suddenly take notice of our site and assigned us number #1 ranking for several of our targeted keywords. This brings them into line with Google and Yahoo after apparently ignoring us for months. At the same time as seeing this we read reports that MSN have implemented a new relevancy algorithm so perhaps it is not a coincidence. In the past MSN search results have been pretty unstable so we shall have to wait and see if this is the start of a new era. At the moment we get hardly any referrals from MSN even though they are generally considered to be running in third place behind Google and Yahoo for search volumes so we look forward to some change on that front too. Keeping up the Toccata theme - here is a LoFi streaming sample from our percussion arrangement of JS Bach's Toccata No 1 .

Compatible streaming - no more worries!

After a couple of weeks practical experience it looks as if our fears about the browser /operating system compatibility of our Flash streaming solution ( Sound Streamer ) were groundless - unless you know different. There has been no significant use on our page offering free upgrade solutions and on some of the more heavily used streams we can already see a specific match between the two halves of the streaming solution i.e. caller and called. The problems which emerged on this PC were indeed a very minor issue and the use of old versions of IE seems to be very much reduced if our visitor's log is anything to go by. With 20:20 hindsight, despite their cunning design the online testing facilities we used ( Browsercam ) were both a bit alarmist and not quite as functional as we required - they didn't actually fire up the JavaScript call for the MP3 file and play it, although they did display the player image. To be fair they made no claims in that direction and it was a specula

And what about Wikipedia on Toccata?

I seem to be a bit slow coming to some of these things but a casual comment by 'Paxo' the other evening prompted me to have a look. I love the idea of communities editing and refining an encyclopedia in this way - another internet gem. The entry on Toccata really did it for me and so I have added a link to our Toccata page - there may be more links on other pages in due course. It most encouragingly makes specific references to the pieces in our collection and puts them neatly into context. If you'd like to go there direct here is the link Wikipedia - Toccata . And just in case that wasn't sufficient enticement here is a short LoFi sample from our marimba and steel drums arrangement of JS Bach's Toccata No 6 - enjoy - you'll hear what they mean when they say culminating especially if you buy the full HiFi MP3 file!

Toccata Popularity

We are getting quite hopeful about the reception of our launch yesterday of seven Bach Toccatas . Reviewing the site stats - the word "toccata" is in the top ten key words bringing searchers to our site and they now have much more material to review. It is also evident that the existing toccata sample are amongst the most frequently reviewed. This is not exactly what we expected but so what - if that is what our listeners want. Here is a LoFi streaming sample from our steel band and marimba arrangement of JS Bach's Toccata No 4 which at 2.99$(US) is one of our most expensive HiFi tracks - weighing in at 18 megabytes (no bother for our broadband customers) and playing for thirteen minutes.

Recordings of Seven JS Bach Toccata Released today

It turns out that the seven Toccata that JS Bach composed were early works for the harpsichord rather than the Organ and so it was not surprising that they responded well to our percussion treatments. They join our popular versions of Schumann and Widor's famous Toccata on a dedicated page. Although we used Steel Drums and Marimba in every case the precise arrangements varied to suit the nature of the piece and a Vibraphone augmented the mix in all but 6 and 7 and in No5 Ocarinas proved body, particularly to the sustained notes. These pieces were created with the aid of our new Creamware DSP audio card which is so feature rich we are only just beginning to get to grips with it. Still settling down to an optimum configuration but very pleased with the quality of the sounds it produces. Here is a longer than usual LoFi streaming sample from our arrangement of Toccata No7 by JS Bach so that you can get some appreciation of what we have been up to and perhaps be tempted to purcha

Let's Hear it for DMOZ

Just looking through the listing of sites linking to us again today and it was encouraging to see the proliferation of our DMOZ entry through other directory sites. For those of you who have not come across it DMOZ is one of the best examples of free collaborations extant on the internet - very much in the spirit of the early pioneers. Sections of the directory are edited by volunteers who review submitted sites for inclusion. Webmasters draft their own entry and the editors check that it stands up. Some people complain that they are slow and unresponsive and perhaps they have experienced some of the over subscribed sections because it does seem to be the case that once the directory has a reasonable number of similar sites ie local sites of a widespread organisation they become reluctant to add more. But in our case this corner of the directory is not very congested and we were included several weeks after submission. Now we see the benefits of proliferation of the content by sites

A Day in the Country

We were out and about enjoying ourselves yesterday - a day in the country. The days of an English Pub's grub consisting of 'Soup in a Basket' are thankfully well behind us. It was lovely to enjoy real ale and excellent food in a cosy pub with congenial company - the morning's rain just evaporated from our minds and the pavements. Back to the music - the Bach toccatas are coming along nicely. We are using several different combinations of instruments an the stability of the new kit is a real boon when we hit the processing boundaries. We are still on the nursery slope in terms of its full potential but steadily making progress. Here is a LoFi streaming sample from the first movement of Mozart's Piano Quartet in E flat Major K493. If you like it - you can buy HiFi MP3 files of all three movements from our Mozart page .

Camille Saint Saens Leads Composers in June

So far this month Camille Saint Saens leads our composers searched for list for the first time. The second first is the link from Lisa who apparently writes her blog because her daddy hates her. As a father of daughters I find that concept difficult to understand but I can only admire her taste in music when she puts Danse Macabre on the top of her list of 5 favorite pieces of music and provides a link to our percussion arrangement. Gosh it almost feels like recognition! I think I'll just bask in the warmth of that feedback for a while and tackle Bach's Toccatas with renewed vigor.

Toccata - just a touch

The popularity of Schumann and Widor's Toccata should not have been a surprise but to be honest they were. The Italian for touch - the toccata is a free form of musical composition, often opportunities for keyboardists to display their virtuosity and flair for improvisation. So perhaps it is not surprising that they respond well to a percussion interpretation. We have now set up a Toccata page and are currently working on several additions from JS Bach with our wonderful new Creamware sound card installed in our recording system. Naturally today's LoFi streaming sample comes from that new page - the Schumann Toccata

Songs on Percussion

Our latest new page is for Songs - a little idiosyncratic for an instrumental music site but fun never the less. Some songs without word and some with the words left out- hear and enjoy. The new audio card and all its associated software arrived as promised yesterday and it is now up and running - we just have to learn how to make the most of it now. It is already showing signs of better stability so it is very promising. For today's short LoFi streaming sample we offer you Scott Joplin's Euphonic Sounds .

Ticking Over

Some days this blog is a bit of a struggle - yesterday we were out working as volunteers for Rotary International's Kids Out Day at Chessington World of Adventures with children from St Nicholas' School - great fun was had by all. Back to the grindstone today. We are still waiting for the new recording equipment that has missed two promised delivery dates - can we believe today's? We don't really know what degree of improvement / increased capacity it will give us but it looks like a sound building block for any new larger system we might decide to invest in. We have a couple more selection pages to put together - then we are going to look at compilations. Our big concern is the size of the files needed but the other side of the coin is that it offers more pricing opportunities and associated payment options for bigger ticket items. So here is a streaming sample from our arrangement of The Sunflower Slow Drag by Scott Joplin

Flash Streaming Tips

So our new Streaming Tips page is up and running - it will be some time before we can really see any impact on streaming success but at least it is a step in the right direction. I'm nervous about this because I have had poor experience with some of the widely available music players over the years and I know that I am very intolerant of any failures. But my experience of flash has been OK. Unfortunately the adverse browsing security developments over the last year or so with the proliferation of malware has made this whole issue much more difficult for everyone. Microsoft have been slow to fix security lapses in IE and have left a gap which Firefox seems to be filling very effectively. My IE browsers are locked up behind high security settings which render them almost useless but you can't abandon it completely because some sites are just not compatible with other browsers. Meanwhile back to the music - here is a streaming sample of our steel band and marimba arrangement o

Compatible Streaming?

Following our last entry we refined the advice and put a banner on all the relevant pages to highlight the free update opportunities which are available to address the compatiblity issues we had identified. The results over the weekend were not very encouraging - there is still an apparently low level of successful streaming of samples compared with the level of downloading we had been seeing before updating the site. So we had another look at the compatibility testing options available to us - concluded that a days use of Browsercam would give us best value and acquired it. The upshot is that there are nine browser / operating system combinations where we know there is a problem out of 26 tested - but they include 3 on Linux, one on a Mac, Opera 7 on Win2k and XP and 4 Netscape variants on Win2K. We have also paid for the remote access service which is offered by Browsercam and have made several tests to see if we can get beyond the visual check. Unfortunately, although the button

Worries and Fixes

The results for yesterday have given us the first clean view of the operation of our new streaming samples set up. The stats indicate that only half the requests for streaming samples are maturing. If this persists some further diagnosis and fixes are going to be needed because dissappointed visitors will simply walk away. It is a bit early to say but so far no real evidence of greater access to HiFi samples - we'll leave that for a while and then see if some tweaks to the relevant pages can improve this. On the other side of the coin there were a few failed Can Can clip requests so there is evidence of the activity which concerned us but it is not too worrying. We are off for a long weekend - "sur le continent" - back Monday. In the meantime here is a streaming sample from another "entertainment" from Scott Joplin - The Strenuous Life - if you like it you can buy the full HiFi MP3 file at for just under a dollar(US). If y

No Stats Today

Our ISP seems to have a bit of a problem managing the stats programme around the month end/start so we will have to wait a bit longer to see the effects of our recent changes . We are also waiting on the delivery of some new hardware which offers new production opportunities so everything is abit up in the air at the moment. In the meantime here is a clip from one of our arrangements of a Scott Joplin "entertainment" - The Cascades delivered as a streaming MP3 file. If you like it why not buy it from our Scott Joplin page.