Classical networks

In an article on a new site for classical and contemporary music the composer Hugi Gudmundsson writes about his project:

Where everyone has access to everything, the genres which are not actively promoted get just as lost on the internet as the classical department in your local record store. (—) The MusMap project was not initiated to compete with social networking sites like Facebook. Those sites are intended for much wider use than classical musicians and composers need to market themselves and their work. Someone looking for a new composition or a classical music act for a concert would never look for it in a recreational social networking site. Rather than a traditional social networking site, the MusMap project is more of a collection of online business cards of serious classical musicians and composers.

True, or? Well, I know of contemporary composers and classical musicians who have got contacts leading to unexpected and otherwise not available jobs, collaborations and gigs through the big social networking sites, where this sort of contemporary or old-style noise is so easily drowned in the endless stream of more or less pleasant noise from tracks in more popular styles, and where the categories are abused (“classical” is used by members of Myspace Music for both art music and rock!) and search functions are difficult to use. There is obviously a chance that such things can happen. And – to say something about the slim chances for new composers to get their works known even in specialized places online – I know of a site for self-publishers of sheet music where an enormous amount of new original music competes for attention not just within its own fields of notated new music (educational, classical and worship music, lead sheets and arrangements of jazz/pop/rock/song), but also with almost as many arrangements of The Greatest Hits Of Classical Music and other out-of-copyright music, and a lot of the good and useful scores surely will go unnoticed. I think it isn’t always good to have a large catalog of works and a large and interconnected database of musicians, if visitors can’t find the things they might be interested in, because there are too many things, and you can’t search effectively. I don’t think it is hopeless, however, as I have written recently in a discussion on Facebook. (I forgot to mention some places like Yahoo Groups, Webrings and mailing lists, which I have participated in earlier to connect with musicians. There are probably other sites and resources I should check out, to understand where the technology is taking us and where the people are gathering for the moment!) This was my posting a few days ago:

I have been a user of Sibelius (and reader of the official tech chat page) since the beginning of 2002, and a member of the self-publisher community since July 2002, but only quite recently have I started to notice how many other communities and self-promoting sites for classical musicians and contemporary composers there are around.

Not all of them are meant for music publishing (selling or giving away sheet music), like SibMus, but most have at least some space available in the member profiles for things like score examples, mp3 audio files, photos and videos, and since a couple of years the friend networking aspect is a prominent feature on these places. On SibMus this is not implemented at all, so friendships made at that community is not a matter of seconds, just a click on someones picture, but an investment of time and attention. You have to read what people actually say first, and then look up their external email address and find up something to ask them…

Some other community/database sites I have looked at this far, are: Classical Lounge, Sequenza 21, Composition Today, Dilettante, and MusMap.

I have also tried the publisher sites My Score Store, and Melos. Of course there are also a lot of opportunities for networking and showcasing of music on Myspace, YouTube, and Facebook.

My belief is that it will become easier to link material and info about music from various sites when the web and information technology develops further. Much of the (old fashioned, humane, personal, even sincere and honest, but) time-consuming networking will become automized or at least very simplified through Google and other services. People will hopefully find what they are looking for (if they are aware of or suspect that it exists, of course!), so if our music or our skills as engravers or musicians are wanted, and if we have at some point put the info about it somewhere, there is a chance somebody will find and appreciate it. Our info doesn’t have to be stored in the “best” place (a prestigious database or an active community) in order to be found!

Blog layout news

Now you can subscribe to this blog through the simple buttons, one for all posts and one for all comments to posts. I have also added the new improved blog roll, so the info from the blogs I have on my radar are updated in real time.

Nothing to tell

The art of blogging has been almost given up and forgotten in the last months, during which I have done very little online – except checking my Facebook and Myspace and a discussion forum, but not contributing much. I read other people’s music blogs, though, when the subscribed ones drop their newest content in my reader.

Haven’t been painting or composing or writing much lately either. I studied painting once a week from February to May, but did nothing new that I want to show here or in an exhibition (we have an annual amateur salon on the local library but I wasn’t prepared to participate this summer), just still life exercises in acrylic on cheap paper, to learn more about light, balance and colours.

Musically, I am jumping between very different things. I have been learning some jazz standards on piano (I am not very good at playing and can’t improvise much), for example “Hallucinations” by Bud Powell. Then I have been playing the piano part to “Åkersbergavalsen” a lovely waltz written some years (or decades?) ago by Ove Gardemar. It was used when a song group led by Christina Nordstrand was entertaining old people at a hospital with spring and summer tunes. I have made and published (on SibeliusMusic) some revisions to my song “Elisabeth dansar” – a short, lyrical tune for children. Yesterday I started to put the music from Beethoven’s op. 131 into Sibelius notation, to see if I could learn something about string quartet writing by this exercise. (There seems to be a file of the LvB op131 in Finale notation available at Project Gutenberg but it is an experience to notate it from the pocket score, too) I often get ideas for new compositions and sound works, but nothing that seems important enough to start working on. You have to imagine at least some sort of listener for a piece, and if not, don’t waste your time. Being a composer is really frustrating most of the time, especially if you are not a performer yourself, and if you lack the social skills needed to build a network of contacts in the musical world…

Hope you are having a nice summer, readers!