Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

Posted by Marcel Soleda on August 26, 2011  |  1 Comment

Still rummaging through de musical chest in Youtube we discover Bobby McFerrin leaving us gobsmacked in this fun, 3-min performance from the 2009 World Science Festival. He uses the pentatonic scale to reveal one surprising result of the way our brains are wired. Who said that music is not a universal language? :-)

Benjamin Zander on music and passion

Posted by Marcel Soleda on August 9, 2011  |  Leave a comment

Summer is the best time of the year to rummage through the seemingly bottomless memory chest that is the Internet in order to find some gems of recent years. In this ocasion we think is worth posting the presentation that the English conductor Benjamin Zander did in the 2008 TED edition.

Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. Enjoy.

Filed under: Curiosities

Neu Records, on CD because there’s no alternative

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 27, 2011  |  Leave a comment

Neu RecordsOn 14 June the CD “Blanc” was presented at the Palau de la Música Catalana, the first release from the new Catalan label Neu Records, containing the collected choral works of the composer Bernat Vivancos. This double CD was produced in collaboration with Catalunya Música and the ICIC, and performed by the Latvian Radio Choir conducted by Sigvards Klava.

Thee are many things about this new project that we like:

To begin with, in my opinion, the excellent choice of material for the first recording in the collection, Blanc, which contains a work of extraordinary delicacy and high quality, in a style reminiscent of Arvo Pärt, James McMillan and Olivier Messiaen, and which definitely proves that Spanish contemporary works are at the forefront of the current European scene. Contemplative, transcendent music which, in the words of Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen, “is like a city of angels: blissful sounds populated by saintly spirits hiding between the notes as birds in a tree.” He couldn’t have put it better.

We also like this label’s bold commitment to Catalan contemporary music, a commitment they themselves mention in their own presentation: “Neu Records is a newly created independent label devoted to making recordings of contemporary music in high definition surround format, and also to providing a platform for interaction between Catalan and international performers and composers at the highest level.”

Listening to CDs recorded by Neu Records is different to going to a concert, because it they place the listeners at the heart of the sound experience.

We note their special interest in the exploration and development of new formats and higher sound quality beyond the conventional CD or mp3, employing high-quality Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 (24bits/96kHz). They explain that in contrast to the concept of the classical concert, i.e. the stage in front of the audience, there is no particular reason why contemporary music concerts should respect this tradition in terms of spatial layout, and therefore they put the listener on the centre stage among the musicians. Listening to CDs recorded by Neu Records is different to going to a concert, because it they place the listeners at the heart of the sound experience.

However, what stands out most – and what I personally think it is their biggest selling point – is the new approach to the recording project beyond the sale of hardware. Unlike most classical music labels, their web takes a rather different approach, not so focused on the cold promotion of the CD and subsequent redirection to third-party outlets, real or online, but open to the promotion of extra materials (scores) and additional information, and purchase in a choice of different quality formats, one of which is the CD format itself. This new approach, quite innovative in the field of classical music labels in Spain, suggests that for them the sale of compact discs is no longer the main and sole objective. It even seems as if they were only still doing so because they have no choice.

Neu Records is, then, a project for the 21st century, high-quality, sophisticated, bold, innovative, and made in Catalonia. We wish the company the best of luck in this venture.

Avid Scorch, the new iPad application for scores

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 14, 2011  |  Leave a comment


Avid has just announced the launch of its iPhone application Avid Scorch, a tool they claim will transform the iPad into a score library cum shop and music stand at the same time.

The application is based on the Sibelius music notation software technology, also by Avid, allowing seamless integration with the latter. There is also an integrated shop with over 150,000 titles.

The software is not only a viewer of scores but also contains additional functions: some of its most remarkable features include the ability to transpose pieces to other keys, introduce changes in their instrumentation, convert them to and from guitar tabs, and separate out the instrumental parts and play them on a virtual keyboard. It also boasts a music stand option that makes it possible to turn the pages quickly.

Its integration with the shop not only allows access to the entire catalogue of Hal Leonard and Music Sales but also the possibility of users uploading their own creations in Sibelius to sell them to the online community.

“We’re certain our customers will be excited to use Scorch, an innovative iPad application, to purchase, practice and perform sheet music wherever they go”, says Tanguy Leborgne, Vice President, Creative Enthusiasts’ Products and Solutions at Avid. “We’re focused on using our industry-leading technology in exciting new ways so musicians, teachers, students – all creative people – can achieve their artistic vision.”

The Avid Scorch application is available worldwide through the App Store at a limited time introductory price of € 3.99. As of 31 July 2011, the price will be € 5.99.

Further information at:

Boosey announces its online score service

Posted by Marcel Soleda on May 31, 2011  |  1 Comment

The English publisher Boosey & Hawkes has just announced its new online service for viewing scores through the platform Boosey & Hawkes Online Scores, which currently offers just under 500 works for orchestra and large instrumental ensembles as well as some operas.

The service is free but only available to registered users. Display of scores is based on Adobe Flash, which allows interactive navigation throughout the score, searches (not very useful in the case of music notation) and zooms.

With the introduction of this new service I cannot help but wonder what exactly Boosey’s strategy consists of. A service that lets you view scores but not print or download them, and which offers no other options except “leafing through” them does not seem particularly tempting for the users of their website, especially when there is no direct route to buying the score in their shop. A search has to be made elsewhere.

Personally, I can only understand the service if Boosey’s long-term idea is to include its entire catalogue so that users are allowed a complete view of any work before buying it, rather like Google Preview with books. But, at least for the time being, the service is completely separate from the rest of the services offered by and, for example, you cannot use the viewfinder to view the content of the work in the online shop product information file or in the rental information file.

As I said, I don’t know what their long-term strategy is, but in my opinion it would make more sense to integrate this new function with other services in order to offer complete views of the works before purchase / rental by users. Otherwise, it is just one more section in its global offer of online services, with no possibility of direct financial profit, and which requires users to register. Perhaps its strategy is in the registry.

Link to the news item and the Boosey online scores service.

Spotify turns up the pressure

Posted by Marcel Soleda on April 15, 2011  |  Leave a comment

Later this week Spotify has announced changes in its subscription system that affect users of the Spotify Free and Open versions. If last year streaming was limited to a maximum of twenty hours per month, starting on 1 May this will be reduced to ten hours per month, and individual songs will be limited to a maximum of five plays per month.

The changes do not as yet affect users of Free or Open accounts created after 2 November 2010, who will enjoy the standard service for six months. After this time they will also be subject to these restrictions.

The blog entry written by the founder himself, Daniel Ek, says that by “making Spotify available to millions across Europe… people are listening to more music and from a wider range of artists than ever before, and are giving up on piracy.” Ek added: “This is exactly what we hoped would happen…. So it’s vital that we continue offering an on-demand free service… but to make that possible we have to put some limits in place going forward.”

Spotify has built a model that has managed to put order into the chaos and draw millions of users away from illegal downloading. For no other reason than this it deserves our praise.

Users’ reactions have been varied, although the first comment in the blog is categorical: “So long Spotify. It was nice knowing you. Guess I’ll go back to pirating music again then.”

At the moment Spotify is present in seven countries and boasts six million users, of whom one million have a premium account. The current catalogue contains over ten million songs and is continuing to expand at a steady pace.

Although it might not please those users who support the free-only format, the fact is that Spotify is up till now the best formula based on the model Freemium that finds a balance between advantages for all users and a fair system of financial returns for artists. Nevertheless, many music companies that agreed enthusiastically to the inclusion of their music in Spotify, because they expected huge profits, have now completely withdrawn their catalogues (this is the case of ECM and Naxos) on not seeing their expectations fulfilled (very inflated in some cases).

But not everything is restrictions, because the pay offer has been broadened to adapt to another type of customer:

Spotify Unlimited, which is similar to the Spotify Open service of a couple of years ago, offers unlimited music, without advertising and with the ability to connect from outside the country where the account was set up (useful for those who travel a lot). The main limitations are that it cannot be accessed on mobile devices and the audio quality is the same as in the Open version. It costs € 4.99/month.

Spotify Premium has no restrictions of any kind: it offers unlimited listening, is free of ads and runs on mobile devices. It also permits local storage that makes it possible to listen to songs even if you have no Internet access, works with domestic wireless devices and the audio quality is 320Kbps. The price is € 9.99/month.

In my opinion Spotify’s proposal is solid, consistent and honest. It is a model that has managed to put order into the chaos and draw millions of users away from illegal downloading and even persuade them to pay for the service. For no other reason than this it deserves our praise.

PS: Before long we will have news of Spotify’s American venture, the Swedish company’s new plan to penetrate the U.S. market, currently dominated by Groove Shark. This is a similar service, the difference being that it requires no installation or registration (all via web), and it lays claim to a massive twenty-eight million users.

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Filed under: CDs, Noticias, Technology

Noteflight, music editing software 2.0

Posted by Marcel Soleda on March 30, 2011  |  Leave a comment

Noteflight, online sheet music editorNoteflight has been around for over three years now and new features have been constantly developed and added to its online editing program since its launch. For those who are not yet in the picture, this is an online music writing application that allows you to create, view, print and listen to professional quality music notation directly from your web browser. Like all services “in the cloud” there is a demo version with certain limitations, which you can upgrade to the premium version, Crescendo, by opening an account for $49/year.

Create and share

Its editing capacity is remarkable and although there are certain limits on the complexity of the notation it does cover 90% of the needs of any amateur or professional musician. But its interest does not lie so much in its functionality as an editor but in its ability to share work on the web. Within minutes you can upload your composition to the social networks (users can decide which members of the community are allowed to view, edit and comment on their scores and songs) and you can even embed a viewer in your blog.

Here is an example:

Noteflight Classroom

In January the program Noteflight Classroom, aimed at music teachers, was released. Noteflight Classroom allows the creation of a private virtual space in which the teacher (administrator) invites students to do the exercises and share the notes placed there. Later, the teacher can correct each student’s exercises, grade them, make observations, etc. The price of the service is $295/year, a more than reasonable fee when taking into account the cost of developing a frontline virtual learning environment such as this one.

Riccardo Muti. The Art of Music Conducting

Posted by Marcel Soleda on January 31, 2011  |  2 Comments

Funny and spiring speech by Maestro Riccardo Muti, after receiving the Musician of the Year 2010 Award, of Musical America. He is both witty and wise when describing the difficult art of Music Conducting. You should not miss this.

The work that Albéniz began and Granados finished

Posted by Marcel Soleda on December 22, 2010  |  1 Comment

Azulejos para piano, de Isaac Albéniz“Azulejos is really delightful. Rosina has given me the original copy by Isaac and I treasure it. But I’m happy to share it with you. Would you like a copy? I’ll send you the original of what I’ve written.”

This is how the letter ends that Enrique Granados sent to Joaquim Malats in 1910 about Azulejos, an exquisite piano work that the maestro Isaac Albéniz had left unfinished and which would have constituted the beginning of a second suite, following the success of the Suite Iberia. Granados began at bar 51 and left it with its present 154 bars in a masterly exercise in composition, where he is faithful to his own style but at the same time does not betray the original spirit Albéniz’s work.

The finished work was published in 1911 by Édition Mutuelle in Paris. The original manuscripts were separated and have been held up to the present day in the Museum of Music of Barcelona and the Biblioteca de Catalunya, respectively. However the central sheet which contains the union of the two parts got lost and finally appeared in a collection of autograph scores. Probably owing to its peculiarity, it was removed, framed and exhibited at the Institut del Teatre.

As a result of this discovery the Biblioteca de Catalunya prepared a special edition, with score and facsimile of the original, to mark the hundredth anniversary of the composition of this work.

This new edition has been used to record the CD Azulejos, música de cámara, which, as well as the performance of Azulejos by the pianist Jean-Bernard Pommier, contains the Quintet in G minor and the Trío in C by Enrique Granados, performed by Santiago Juan and Cristian Benito, violin; Alejandro Garrido, viola; and Màrius Díaz, violoncello.

Listen to it here >

Presentation of two monographic CDs by Charles and Casablancas

Posted by Marcel Soleda on November 29, 2010  |  Leave a comment

Next Friday 3 December, at 12:30, will see the presentation of two monographic CDs: Elapsed Memories, by Agustí Charles, and Complete String Quartets and Trio, by Benet Casablancas. The act will be held at the Club Social of the headquarters of the Sgae Group in Catalonia (Passeig Colom, 6).

Ramon Muntaner, Llorenç Caballero, director of Tritó Edicions, and the composers themselves, Benet Casablancas and Agustí Charles, will speak at the presentation.

The work of the composer and musicologist Casablancas was recorded in the chamber music hall of the Auditori de Girona on 27, 28 and 29 July 2009 with the collaboration of the SGAE and the Fundació Autor, and consists of five pieces of music: Five interludes -quasi variazioni- (1983), String quartet no. 2 (1991), String trio (1992), Encore for Arditti (2004) and String quartet no. 3 -Raging in the Dark- (2009).

On the other hand, in September 2009 at the Auditori de Barcelona, the OBC under the baton of Jaime Martín recorded three orchestral works by the composer Agustí Charles: Elapsed Memories (2006), Double Variations (1994) and Effigies II (1998).

For further information see:

Ara Malikian presents his latest CD

Posted by Marcel Soleda on November 23, 2010  |  Leave a comment

Ara_malikian_violin_concertoFollowing the magnificent reception given to his latest recording by both the critics and the public, Ara Malikian now presents the CD “Spanish Romantic Violin Concertos” at the FNAC in Valencia.

The CD includes two extraordinary violin concertos by the composers Tomás Bretón and Jesús de Monasterio, concertos composed in the shadow of Pablo Sarasate. The two works are also very good examples of the influence of Central European symphonism in Spain. This is the first time these concertos have been recorded.

You can listen to them here…

For further information see: and

Premiere of Hypermusic Prologue, by Hèctor Parra

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 11, 2009  |  Leave a comment

Sunday 14 June saw the premiere of “Hypermusic Prologue, a projective opera in seven planes” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a work by the composer Hèctor Parra with a libretto by the well-known professor of theoretical physics from Harvard University, Lisa Randall.

It is new style of opera, a unique project for intercommunication between science, music and art. In this work the traditional form of opera is explored to generate a form of dramatic expression suited to the 21st century, its ideas and creative processes, including recent research into physics and its parallelisms with music and art.

Hypermusic Prologue was commissioned by the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), the Centre Pompidou itself, and the Department of Culture of the Catalan Government.

The same production will be presented at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona on 27 and 28 de November.

Information about its premiere on the Catalan Television…

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Hèctor Parra in the newspaper El País

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 10, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The journalist Javier Pérez Senz has interviewed Hèctor Parra in the Babelia section of El País (6 June). The composer discussed his projective opera “Hypermusic Prologue“, his complex creative process, and his relationship with the American theoretical physicist Lisa Randall. He also mentioned how proud he feels to have been able to work on such a project with the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

“What I aim for as a creator is to move the listeners, stir their spirits and open up their imaginations to new sound energies in the awareness that, in a nutshell, composing is searching for oneself”.

A face-to-face encounter with the composer that preluded the première, which took place on 14 June at the Centre Pompidou in the French capital.

Link to the interview.

Opera 2.0 (3rd part)

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 8, 2009  |  Leave a comment

In the last video of the series, the theoretical physicist and Harvard professor Lisa Randall, author of the libretto, talks about Hypermusic Prologue. The idea for the libretto came from one of her best-known books, “Warped passages” which was a best seller in the United States.

In Hypermusic Prologue, science, music and plastic arts find a meeting point in this innovative score, whose central character is a composer-scientist (soprano) torn between the love she feels for her partner (baritone) and her passion for research, her conviction that there is a much bigger world than we know waiting to be explored.

Opera 2.0 (2nd part)

Posted by Marcel Soleda on June 2, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The second part of the preparations for the premiere of Hypermusic Prologue, a new type of opera. This video focuses on the set design and the scenery, by the set designer Paul Desveaux and the artist Matthew Ritchie.

New Paths in Music

Posted by Marcel Soleda on May 27, 2009  |  Leave a comment

New Paths in Music is an annual festival held in New York whose goal is the diffusion of music by outstanding foreign composers on the United States music scene. The festival is organised by a non-profit organisation founded in 2004 and led by the conductor of the Albany Symphony orchestra, David Alan Miller, who is widely recognised as a fervent defender of contemporary music.

This year’s festival was dedicated to the following countries: Spain, Chile, Mexico and Argentina. The Spanish representatives were the composers David del Puerto and Gabriel Erkoreka with their works Zephyr and Trance, respectively.

The concert, which included their works and those of four other composers, took place on Friday 5 June at the Elebash Recital Hall in the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Further information at:

Facebook? Naturally!

Posted by Marcel Soleda on May 5, 2009  |  Leave a comment

In the midst of the upsurge of the web 2.0, where the users have taken control of the contents of Internet, the social networks seem to have become the main players in the movement. Facebook is the social networking website par excellence, so we need to be there too, and now we are!

Encuéntranos en Facebook

You don’t need a Facebook account to visit our page; just click on the link at the top.

Our page on Facebook is not only ours; it is also the place where you can comment on whatever you like, make suggestions, announce events, and a lot more.

You can also take advantage of our seasonal promotions: mp3 downloads, concert invitations, links of interest…

Since Monday and until next week, you can download absolutely free the mp3 of Evocación para guitarra, by Isaac Albéniz. This work is one of the pieces on the latest CD from Javier Riba “La Guitarra Soñada“.

See you on Facebook!

Children’s classics in the Solfa la Redonda collection

Posted by Marcel Soleda on April 21, 2009  |  Leave a comment

Two new titles have been added to the Solfa la Redonda collection of CDs for children, which maintains its policy of motivating and encouraging children to get to know classical music, this time counting on the voices of Gonzalo de Castro and Javier Cámara.

These two novelties by Spanish composers, El soldadito de Plomo (The Tin Soldier) by Emilio Aragón and las Fábulas de Lafontaine (La Fontaine’s Fables) by Xavier Benguerel, join the ranks of such notable titles and famous classics in the children’s repertoire as Peter and the Wolf by Prokoviev and the Story of Babar by Francisc Poulenc, already on sale.

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The Orquesta de Cadaqués Ensemble plays all the musical parts, conducted this time by Emilio Aragón and Philippe Entremont respectively. The narrative counts on the invaluable cooperation of some of the most versatile actors on the national scene, who took part in this project thrilled by the possibility of addressing such a demanding audience as children: Javier Cámara and Gonzalo de Castro join Tristán Ulloa and Leonor Watling, who have already participated in previous recordings.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Spotify, the latest in music on the Internet

Posted by Marcel Soleda on February 24, 2009  |  1 Comment

What is it?

It’s a revolution in music distribution. Spotify is an application for Windows and Mac with a music catalogue that users may search and listen to in streaming audio. The idea is similar to iTunes but downloading is not possible. Instead, users can listen free of charge to any track and without any limitations. The only drawback is the advertising that users hear every certain amount time or number of tracks.

What’s in the catalogue?

For the time being the music published by the four biggest music labels (EMI, Warner Music, Sony BMG y Universal), as well as a large number of small labels from the Long Tail associated with The Orchard and Merlin.


There are a few breaks for advertisements, but they may be expected to increase as the application gains new users. In any case, the advertising can be eliminated by acquiring Spotify Premium for 9.99 € / month or a Spotify Day Pass for 0.99 € / day.

Is it the future?

Probably. It is certainly an example of the reinvention of the music distribution model, which has been years pending a new approach to combat piracy.It’s has been proclaimed the future of music but until now was limited to and not much else.

The fact is that the predictions made by media futurists such as Gerd Leonhard are gradually coming true: The only way to combat piracy is by offering better services. The future of the music business on Internet lies in the service and not in the product. So be it.


The invention, being revolutionary, is the subject of controversy. For the time being, it is only available in certain countries whose societies of authors have permitted it (Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK). At the time of writing some groups have already expressed their disagreement and demanded the removal of their music. We hope that this will not be the general trend and that the recording companies do not make the same mistakes as they did with the Napster phenomenon.

How to obtain it?

Previous registration is necessary to activate the program and, in theory, downloading the application is only possible with an invitation. That’s the web 2.0. But to save time you can use a direct link to the download window:

The young team of Spotify:

Further information in:

Music Reader, the future of the score

Posted by Marcel Soleda on January 15, 2009  |  Leave a comment

It’s called Music Reader and it may be the format that definitively pensions off the traditional score and parts in paper. And there’s really no doubt it has many advantages:

The musical notes are visualised on a tablet PC type of screen that can be placed on the music stand while the pages are turned with an accessory pedal. Another advantage that also affects the publishing companies is that it permits the introduction of corrections in real time by the musicians, and also various annotations.

Naturally Music Reader is not the only initiative in this direction. Another device on the market with similar characteristics is MusicPad Pro.

We will have to wait and see what happens but what’s for sure is that the digital revolution is arriving everywhere and classical music is no exception.

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