MIDI AND SAMPLING
In order to specify a note, in the scientific sense, four things are needed. First is the pitch. Second the volume or loudness. Third is the length of the note. These three properties are called the MIDI data. The size of the file for the midi data is small, only a few kilobytes.
Fourth is the timbre or tone of the note. Technically speaking, this property of the note is the combination of the overtones unique to the instrument. Our ears hear quite different tones when we hear an oboe and a violin even though they may be playing the same note. The file needed to assign timbre to a note is very large indeed. It is measured in megabytes.
A SHORT HISTORY OF SAMPLING
In the 60's RCA Victor was studying the question of whether an electronic circuit could be made to generate the overtones needed to make a pure sine wave input come out sounding like an oboe. The goal was to synthesize the sounds of the orchestral instruments. Where did this lead? Today we have the electronic piano which can be switched from piano tones to others like violin sounds. The piano is passable but not so the violin. Stradivari it is not.
Enter the computer. With the computer and digital signal processing comes a new way to look at the question. The solution is this: use a real oboe. Have an oboist play a note like A-440 and record the sound as a digital WAV file on the computer. When the midi sequence comes to the place where it requires an oboe to play A-440, have the computer play the recorded oboe. Have the oboist play each note in the range of his instrument and record these SAMPLES on the computer. Do this for all the orchestral instruments.
Now type the midi data sequence needed to play Beethoven's 5th symphony into the computer and run the sequence through the sampler and - out comes cyber music - a performance produced on the computer.
A performance where one person, call him the sequencer, alone is responsible for the tempo, the dynamics, the rubato, the timbre and all the rest. Literally, one person can perform Beethoven's symphony on the computer.
The disadvantage of a traditional live recording is the reverberation in the concert hall. The sound reaching your ear in the audience comes both from the instrument that made it but also from reflections off the walls and other surfaces. The reflections arrive at your ear late because the path traveled is longer. The resulting sound is muddy, garbled, not clear. Did Beethoven have clear music in his head when he was composing - or reverberations? I think the answer is clear. Complicated pieces (Prokofiev) can never be clearly heard in live performance. Too much is going on all at the same time.
The music on this CD was produced on the computer. There is no orchestra, no players, no conductor, no concert hall. There is only the sequencer with the composer's score.
To hear more cyber music go to download.com/cyberchambermusic.
ABOUT THIS CD
Beethoven's Egmont Overture is another middle-period "heroic" work like the opera Fidelio and the 3rd Symphony. The passion and the drama is there but it is also wonderfully crafted. The play between the three sections, the strings, the woodwinds and the brass/percussion supports the drama. The opening chord by the full orchestra tells us to pay serious attention. The ff strings announce the coming struggle. The pp woodwinds provide respite. It goes back and fourth until in the final section the triumph is achieved. The brass section adds weight and volume at the last and joins the others in the victory fanfare. We know the celebration is complete from the bottom with contrabass and tympani to the top with the violins at the very limit of their upper register. Beethoven leaves no doubt. He uses the piccolo in a new way. Because not only does the piccolo add frills while doubling the high violins but it ends with a solo flourish the likes of which was never heard in the symphony hall until now.
Schubert's story is that of an undiscovered genius who died young, at only 31. He lived in Vienna in its heyday as both the home of Beethoven and the musical capitol of the world. He was well known at the time as a writer of songs - for which there was a great demand. But songs were not ranked high in the scale of musical forms. However, perhaps he knew that he was rightfully Beethoven's artistic successor. Because in the last few months of his fatal illness he composed masterpieces in the required forms like the Great b-flat Piano Sonata heard here. But, he did not energetically promote these works or pursue their publication. Why? We do not know. The Piano Sonata was not published in his lifetime (it is often listed as Opus Posthumous). Indeed, it was only in the 20th century that Schubert's masterful contributions have become fully known.
The adagio, like that of the C-Major Quintet, is in itself breathtaking in its craftsmanship. The work runs some 40 minutes. It is a masterpiece that is not surpassed even by any of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas.
The serenade is an off-handed form often used by Mozart. It is a light and airy form for string orchestra. One imagines its function is to add amusement to the light-hearted outdoor evening fete. Of course, what Mozart touches turns to gold. Including the serenade titled Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (a little night-piece).
Cyberchambermusic's rendering of these works is brilliant in its clarity. The WAV file format enhances the sounds, especially of the piano (over the MP3 file format). The total length is 66:45.
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1. Egmont Overture
2. Posthumous 1st Movement
3. Posthumous 2nd Movement
4. Posthumous 3rd Movement
5. Posthumous 4th Movement
6. Nachtmusik 1st Movement
7. Nachtmusik 2nd Movement
8. Nachtmusik 3rd Movement
9. Nachtmusik 4th Movement