This page is by way of a bit of reflection on what we are trying to achieve with this site with some illustrations from the collection - we enable visitors to discover mp3 music online before they download the complete files. We offer several ways to find the pieces with pages for each composer or the full listing where you can discover MP3 titles for yourself and click trough to them directly. We'll now describe the considerations that go into their production and presentation so that you can discover MP3 pleasure with your ears.
When the music we work with was produced the composers could be pretty sure of the environment where it would be heard and the ambient listening conditions. Depending on their orchestration it could go from the parlor, through a larger chamber to a concert hall or a particular theatre such as Offenbach's Barcarole which was written as the introduction to his Tales of Hoffmann. In the case of some of the French organ works they probably knew which church it would be. There are famous occasions where they got it wrong such as Handel's Water music where the band's boat was too far away from the King to be heard properly. On the other hand Bach's Toccatas were intended to be played as the congregation were entering or leaving church - entertaining, even uplifting but not too challenging or emotional.
As the recording industry got underway the reproduction equipment was pretty well defined at each stage from wind up gramophones (parlor-phone) to sophisticated vinyl HiFi systems. At that time recording engineers sought to reproduce the concert hall environment as far as possible. But as pop groups came in the recording engineer's imagination and skill came to the fore. This trend has accelerated as digital recording and synthesis techniques have become available. In some cases the target listening environment is still well defined - for example a night club with the gain cranked right up. But digital recordings can turn up in all sorts of environments on all sorts of equipment - from leaky head phones on a crowded commuter train to a db perfect home entertainment system in a quiet residence.
Our response is to try to produce an interesting but sensible stereo image. The instruments we use do not have 'natural' positions relative to each other but separation can sometimes bring out contrasting themes and conversations going on in the music. Part of that stereo image is contributed by reverberation which we can control to a substantial extent and we have generally settled on a 'large hall' simulation because it seems to bring out the best in the steel drums online. We find that we are usually able to manage the balance between instruments on the mixer board but just like the analogue world doubling can play a valuable part sometimes. After developing it on a reasonably clean amplifier, we check it out on a computer sound system which tends to over emphasize the bass as well as by eye on the spectrum analyzer. Why not listen to some free music of the HiFi streaming kind now.
We have adopted the Yahoo! Media Player to play the generally LoFi clips from our recordings and there are examples at the top of this page. The complete pieces need to be downloaded before you can play them because of file size.