Master Classics

Classical music playlists by Tobias, whenever I broadcast on WPRB, 103.3 FM, Princeton, NJ USA (609-258-1033 at the station). THIS SUMMER (from May 27) 6 a.m. on Tuesdays! I will usually post playlists within 24 hours after the program is over. When I'm scheduled to sub, I will usually post a warning here a few days in advance.


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Thursday, July 10, 2003

Coming up on MasterClassics in the next few weeks: More music by live composers. Classical music by black composers.
On July 29 I hope to present a five-hour program on Minuets, Scherzos and Such. I think that when one is discovering a new composer or new music, the fast inner movemnt of a sonata or symphony is often the easiest and most attractive part to learn first. These movements are often the most structured, yet there is great variety in them, and they are fun to listen to.

Here is the statement about the RIAA that I read on the air, on July 8:

I’m going to take a few minutes here to discuss something of great interest to everyone who listens to recorded music. This is going to sound like an editorial, but I’m going to try to be as objective as I can.

The Recording Industry Association of America is an organization representing a great many recording labels. You can find their member list at The RIAA collects certain payments for performance of music on behalf of its members. For example, WPRB is expected to pay them $250/yr, retroactive to 1998, for concurrent broadcasting on the internet. (Originally the RIAA wanted much higher payments. When these payments were proposed, the majority of radio stations broadcasting on the web quickly terminated their web broadcasts.)

The RIAA is also engaged in trying to prevent, or minimize, illegal copying of music. The RIAA’s anti-pirate strategy appears to involve suing its own customers.
It is very strange for companies to attack their source of income in this way, but it’s happening because of copyright issues that are affecting us all. I’m going to set the stage for you and leave you to follow up, because I think most of you should be interested.

The major recording companies are divisions of major players in the world’s finances. They have a lot of money, they make a lot of money, and they have an obvious interest in keeping their profits up. They have enough clout to get laws passed in this country and Europe that favor their interests.

The RIAA blames the decline in recorded music sales since 2001 on illegal copying of CDs. Others suggest that factors like general financial declines and the lack of great new recording artists are important factors.

One can argue that the RIAA and its members have lost their Raison d’etre to exist, and one can ask whether, even with their financial clout, they can ever overcome this. Major recording companies came into being because it was very expensive to record, duplicate, distribute and advertise music. They have acted as arbiters of taste in deciding whom to record and whom to push with their advertising dollars. There are no perfect arbiters of taste and there have been terrible gaffes in this process, but over the last hundred years the RIAA members have brought us an enormous selection of high quality, well-indexed music.

Today anyone can record inexpensively. The Internet provides very cheap means to copy, sell and distribute music, especially if one is not believes that free copies actually enhance sales. And recently the web is beginning to produce good methods for potential customers to find the better music and performers of interest to them, instead of relying upon music company advertising.

Today’s rampant illegal copying of music can be seen as a protest against the RIAA’s members, their prices, bundling of bad music with good, the choice of stars, and the star-system that they represent. Illegal copying today is quite reminiscent of the Prohibition Era, when selling alcohol was illegal but routine.

At this point I’d like to remind you that although the legal issues are quite complex, here’s the essence of the law: You can generally make a backup copy of something for your own private use. Copyright law permits many types of excerpt-copying. But most of the uploading, sharing and downloading of music tracks and CDs going on today is simply illegal. We have become a nation of law-breakers, in fact a WORLD of law-breakers, and we must therefore worry whether there is something wrong with the law.

No one knows what’s going to happen to this struggle over music rights, but I want you to consider several outcomes and then decide how you personally would like to be informed or involved.

ONE: The recording industry as we know it may dry up and blow away. Instead, people will buy direct over the Internet from performers and website stores representing groups of performers. There will be much free copying, and performers will hope that this copying leads to additional sales. Musicians who make millions will be exceedingly rare.

TWO: The RIAA will maintain its dominant position by buying up the desirable copyrights, suing people for illegal copying, and getting laws passed in their favor. Relationships between the recording industry, performers and listeners will remain combative. Musicians who make millions will be exceedingly rare.

THREE: The leading electronics and computer manufacturers, including Microsoft, will ensure that all future electronics can not be used for illegal copying. In my opinion such an approach will lead to more concentration of holdings in all aspects of the music and electronics business, and notably interfere with computer usage and the development of imaginative new software and hardware. Hackers will still make illegal copying possible, but the risks of hacking and illegal copying will escalate. Musicians who make millions will be exceedingly rare.

There’s lots of info on the web about these issues. I suggest you search for “RIAA and members”. Also search for “Lawrence Lessig”, a lawyer deeply involved in digital rights issues, who is generally against the RIAA posiitons. You may find many links that interest you.

posted by tobias at 6:39 AM

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

PLAYLIST for Tuesday, July 8, 2003, 6 to 8:30 a.m., featuring some live composers:
Schumann, r: Mein wagen rollet langsam, featured song, Hyp cdj33015, Maltman & johnson
Adams, john: Harmonielehre, Emi cdc 5 55051 2, Rattle & birmingham orch
Carter: Pastorale 1945, Cedille cdr 90000 048, Yeh & blackwood
Chaminade, cecile: Toccata, Aw2204, Louise cheadle
Debussy: Chevaux de bois, Test. Sbt 1289, Danco & agusti
Messiaen: Turangalila-symphonie mvts 1,7, Dg 431781-2, Myung-whun chung & orchestra de la bastille, loriod & loriod
Cox, cindy: Geode, Cr cd 886, Paul dresher ensemble
Schuller, gunther: Duets for horns, Cala cacd0513, Philip meyers & erik ralske
Reich, steve: Octet, Amiata arnr0393, Amadinda & group180

posted by tobias at 7:26 PM

Monday, July 07, 2003

I'm planning to play classical music by black composers this month also. It's very difficult to decide whether it would be appropriate to play the complete version (45 minutes) of Ellington's "Black, Brown and Beige". This is a jazzy piece by a major jazz composer that employs a great deal of classical compositional technique. Would you like to hear it on a classical music program? Please email me with your comments! (Click on the left column where it says "email me").

posted by tobias at 7:15 AM

Some of the featured composers on Tuesday, July 8, 6-8:30, will be alive.

posted by tobias at 7:08 AM


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