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Bach manuscript for one of the French Suites.

How to find J.S. Bach on Bandcamp

I’m rummaging around the indie artist site Bandcamp to see if there are any good classical tracks, and there most certainly are:

You have absolutely got to listen to Sly 5th Avenue do a saxophone/violin meditation on a Bach theme. It’s gorgeous. And while we are on that composer, Pianobeat has a really nice album which features an elegant keyboard performance of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire. Dominick Francken has a very soulful rendition of the Prelude from the First Violin Suite. And Dadalus Uggla has an interesting improvisation on the keys B-A-C-H.

And that’s just stuff about Bach I found via Bandcamp’s search engine—there are tons of other composers on the site. Another way to explore Bandcamp is via its “discover” page, which has a classical category. This delivers more complicated results, because you get a lot of content that tags itself “classical,” as in “classic” this or that genre. Still, quite beautiful things come your way, among them a lovely waltz by Christopher Ferreria and an amazing cello ensemble piece by Zoe Keating. If you keep following the thread, you will eventually run into common practice period classical content, such as this elegant performance of Rachmaninoff’s F-Minor Etude by Beste Aydin.

You can also just browse by the tag “classical.” The problem with Bandcamp, from my perspective, is that it is a bit complicated to get started with as a playlist aspiring fan. When I go to the fan signup page, it explains how to get a fan account: “Easy: buy something, support an artist, and we’ll invite you.” So I bought something (the Aydin album) and had to go through a whole I-do-not-want-to-use-Pay-Pal-so-what-do-I-do-now thing. The email receipt indeed included an invite to join and I did. But the way to develop a feed is to follow other fans, and I can’t figure out how to search for fans with tastes similar to mine.

The great virtue of Bandcamp system is that it nudges you to buy content, which is good for artists. But its initial complexity is perhaps one reason why more people listen to SoundCloud (although to be fair, lots more people listen to SoundCloud than many other music sharing applications).

Speaking of which, SoundCloud classical has some awesome stuff coming down the queue (as usual). Here are some classical SoundCloud feed makers to keep an ear out for:

  • Ahmed Gado of Mansoura, Egypt. Honestly, I don’t know who is this guy is, but his playlist is just a heavenly cascade of Egyptian classical content: orchestral, Oud, keyboard, old stuff, new stuff. You’ve got to get this Gado dude on your mobile list; he’s awesome.
  • Deryn Cullen’s The Cello Companion. A wonderful mix of original compositions for cello, lovely soundtracky stuff, and beautiful renditions of the classics via cellist Deryn and her husband Dan, operating out of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
  • City Slang. Really hauntingly sweet music from this hallowed indie record label in Berlin. A brainchild of Christof Ellinghaus, CS became a conduit for US bands looking for audiences in Europe (see The Lemonheads, Ya Lo Tengo, The Flaming Lips).”Hell, we don’t know what makes us jump either,” says the label’s About page. But: “It’s got to be good.”

While I’m on a roll, some nice 8tracks.com classical playlists:

We started with Bach and we are ending with Bach. Keep sending me news about your classical music radio stations and online classical music sharing/streaming pr1ojects. Follow @radiosurvivor and my classical music twitter feed, @hybridhighbrow.

No classical music next week. I’m going to do an update on various online services and their progress. We cover social music sharing communities every Monday in our Internet DJ feature.


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