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Turntable.fm’s best kept secret: great classical music

Everybody’s talking about turntable.fm these days, the service that allows you to create your own music rooms and share tunes with your friends. The New York based startup is such a huge hit that it appears that Lady Gaga and Kanye West are investing their possibly hard earned cash in the application.

We did a quick review of the site and came up with a positive impression. But Gaga/West story obscures an overlooked aspect of turntable.fm—the venue is a great source for classical music.

Here’s a tip: if you are a classical music lover, the turntable.fm room to hang out at is Classical of any kind, run by small ring of classical music mavens with excellent taste. There’s also another room called Classical Brevity, but Any Kind seems to be the place to be.

Here’s a list of some recent selections chosen by the Any Kind group:

Du bist der Lenz

Knappertsbusch, Varnay, Windgassen, Hotter, Brouwenstijn- 2:08

Room vote: 55%

Firebird Suite: I. IntroductionLeopold Stokowski’s Symphony Orchestra

– 3:13

Room vote: 71%

Piano Sonata #16 In C Major, K 545 – 2.

Adagio

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

– 5:59

Room vote: 68%

Danzas Españolas: II. Oriental

Marie-Andrée Ostiguy

– 3:57

Room vote: 65%

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F#m, op. 23 :

I. Drammatico

Vladimir Ashkenazy

– 6:15

Room vote: 72%

Overture To Der Freischütz, Op.77

Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra

– 11:36

Room vote: 81%

Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring,

Part I – The Adoration of the Earth:

Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra

– 3:12

Room vote: 61%

07 Piano Quintet – V. Moderato

Alfred Schnittke

– 3:58

Room vote: 72%

This only gives you a partial sense of the enormous range of classical music played in the room. Turntable.fm has a huge database of classical music. But one problem is that its metadata system seems to be more oriented towards listing popular pieces, which usually require less fields. That, I suspect, is why you don’t always see the composer on the performance listings as classical pieces are played.

But that flaw also makes Classical of Any Kind lots of fun. The participants sometimes chat and guess who the composer is as the piece plays.

The Any Kind room has a set of very reasonable rules. The room is

strictly for classical music of any era (Early music through the Modern Era) and both instrumental and vocal works are welcome.  Modern Era music can get pretty out there, and anything from Cage’s 4’33” to Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain” to computer music is acceptable.  We highly encourage you to be creative in your music choices, and don’t just play Claire de Lune or the first movement of the “Moonlight” Sonata!  Many of the users of this room have heard the classical standards many, many times and we would love to hear more interesting programming.  However, if you are new to the genre, please don’t feel like you can’t play one of the more famous pieces just because the rest of us are snobs!

Movie music, game music, and instrumental covers of rock and pop songs are discouraged.

The fact that something is being played by an orchestra, piano, string quartet, or whatever typical classical grouping of instruments does not make it classical music.  Similarly, having Pavarotti sing alongside Bono with U2 does not suddenly make that music classical either.

But various kinds of crossover music (think Kronos Quartet) are played in the room.

One of the biggest problems is trolls: people who come into the room and start playing House or heavy metal, or are rude. Turntable.fm has a boot mechanism that’s available to the room’s founder and to the current moderator of the room. Yesterday I saw some booting take place (even did some myself in my brief stint as the moderator). But mostly the room is occupied by polite and enthusiastic classical music lovers.

“Basically, please just keep it clean and in the realm of classical, and we’ll all have a good time!” the Any Kind instructions conclude.


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