All posts by William Johnston

How to add the Classical MPR Streams to iTunes

There are many great ways to listen to Classical MPR, and one of them is to stream it in iTunes. Our listing has temporarily dropped out of the “Radio” listings, so here’s a tutorial to add it — and our choral stream — manually.

Starting assumptions:

  • You have iTunes installed and open
  • You have a browser open to this blog post. (if you don’t how are you reading this?)
  • You know how to copy and paste by right clicking and/or using keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-C for copy and Ctrl-V for paste, in case you were unsure — replace Ctrl with Cmd if on a mac).
  • You love and want to listen to classical music!

Start by copying one of the links listed below.

Open iTunes, and click on the Advanced menu and then the Open Stream menu item. You can also hit Ctrl-U, or Cmd-U on a mac, to do the same thing.

You should get a box which is asking for a URL. Paste into it the link which you copied earlier.

Click OK. The stream should show up in a new playlist called Internet Songs (lousy name, more on that later), and start playing.

If you want to listen to both of the classical streams, just repeat the process to add the second stream to iTunes. If you want to listen to both streams at the same time, listen to John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No. 4, take two aspirin, and lay down for half an hour.

Now whenever you want to listen to Classical MPR, just go to the Internet Songs playlist and double click on the stream. VoilĂ , you have music.

Given that the majority of what you listen to on Classical MPR and the choral stream aren’t songs (a single sung melody with accompaniment), but rather symphonies, choral works, concerti, solo piano works, et cetera; you may want to change the name of the playlist. To do this, just click on the playlist entry to select it, then click it again and wait a moment. The title will become editable, and you can type in a different name. In case you aren’t sure what to call it, here are some suggestions:

  • Classical MPR
  • Minnesota Public Radio
  • Awesome Radio which I should Totally Support by becoming a Member today, if not sooner

Hope this helps!

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3 Released

Virtual Choir 3

Containing 3746 videos from 73 countries (myself included), Eric Whitacre has just released the video of Virtual Choir 3, “Water Night.”

This is the culmination of an effort that began several months ago when Eric Whitacre and his staff released conducting tracks containing the music to Water Night, and asked choristers from around the world to record themselves singing their part. The response caused servers to go down and an extension to the deadline.

Several people even did their own multi-track recordings of the work. Matt Curtis from Chanticleer recorded and released all of the individual parts as well as a complete mix:

Through this new venture as well as the previous virtual choirs, Eric Whitacre has once again proven the passion for great music that so many people have and created a truly global choir. Discussions for Virtual Choir 4 are already underway…

Lord of the Rings Symphony

Howard Shore has reworked the music from the Lord of the Rings movies into a two hour, six movement symphony. All of the musical material has been retained; however much of the material has been reworked or reorchestrated to create a standalone piece.

I wonder if someday the melodies and thematic material will be better known from the symphony than from the movies themselves — similar to how everyone seems to know Procession of the Nobles by Rimsky-Korsakov, yet few remember the opera Млада from which it came.

A narrated walkthrough of the symphony:

The complete symphony:

The Lord of the Rings Symphony Album from Arkivmusic

Incidentally, Howard Shore was not the first to compose a symphony based on the Lord of the Rings. Johan De Meij wrote his Symphony No. 1 “Lord of the Rings” between 1984 and 1988.

Violin strings made out of Spider Silk?

Violins strings have been made from a myriad of materials from gut to steel, however a Japanese researcher has created violin strings made out of thousands of strands of spider silk.

According to the BBC article on the subject, the strands pack more densely than other types of twisted strings resulting in a sound that has a “soft and profound timbre.”

In the article is a audio clip of the spider strings being played. Tell us whether you think they sound different, better, or worse than other types of strings in common use.

Benjamin Zander on music and passion

In this TED (Technology, Education, Design) Talk, Benjamin Zander discusses leadership, passion and classical music.

“I made up my mind… that classical music is for everyone… The music profession says that 3% of people like classical music. If we could only move it to 4%, our problems would be over… I say, how would you walk, how would you talk, how would you be if you thought [that] everybody loves classical music? They just haven’t found out about it yet.”

A powerful statement and a powerful presentation.

Mozart's Piano Sonata K. 545 Analysed — in a fun way

Mozart’s Piano Sonata K. 545 is a well known and light-hearted piece, but have you ever analyzed it?

In common practice period music, most music can be analyzed within the key by using chord numbers, indicated with Roman numerals. This piece is in C Major, so the I (1) chord — C E G — is the tonic or home chord. The V (5) chord (G B D) is the dominant chord and is built on the fifth diatonic (meaning within the key, or — in C Major — all of the white keys) note above the tonic. The II chord is build on D, the III chord is built on E, and so on.

All of these chords have an emotion attached to them which Mozart manipulated to create the work. This video has the Roman numeral analysis at the top, and a stick figure underneath representing the artist’s view of the emotion. Watch out for the V of V, he is quick. At 0:45 the piece switches to minor.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3

Composer/Conductor Eric Whitacre has announced that Virtual Choir 3 will be accepting submissions through the end of January.

Virtual Choir is a project where singers from around the world can submit videos of themselves singing their part to a video of Eric Whitacre conducting.

The virtual choir project was featured in a TED talk, describing the work that went into it and some of the ramifications of an internet based choir.

Previous virtual choirs:

Virtual Choir 2.0 singing Sleep
Virtual Choir 1 singing Lux Aurumque