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    ARIA Popular Classical Music


An Update on our Progress

todayJune 4, 2023 68

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Are we ahead of schedule?  Or behind?  For that matter, is there a schedule at all – and, the biggest question of all, are we progressing and moving closer to launching our popular classical music streaming service?

Leaving the first few questions alone and choosing the last question; we’re pleased to let you know that we are indeed moving forward towards a service launch.

  • We have all the hardware in place to do the streaming.
  • We have the software in place to provide a first iteration of streaming interfaces on our website, on Alexa smart speakers, and phone apps

We have done several short trials to test the “work flow” as between recorded pieces of music on CD and actual programs of music playing out of your speakers, and all is working.  Accordingly, our current main focus is on getting things to a point where we’re able to release 24/7 programming in a Beta version.

One of the hugest requirements is to get a library of music to play for you.  This is extraordinarily difficult for a classical music streaming service.  We also own “regular” music FM radio stations, and some of these have fewer than 500 songs in total that we simply keep rotating through.  When you have a format like “Rock’s Greatest Hits” or “Classic Country” you have, by definition, limited the songs you’re ever likely to play.

But, for classical music?  Start adding zeros to that number!  We recently hit a milestone, and now have over 25,000 classical tracks in our digital library.  Note this is not the same as “25,000 different pieces of music”; because we are counting every separate track.  If we have two different versions of, for example, a Beethoven symphony, we certainly don’t count that as one piece, we don’t even count it as two.  We count it as probably eight (all four movements, and for both versions).

We’re not sure how many actually different pieces of music are represented by these 25,000 tracks, but clearly the answer can be fairly stated as “a lot”.  Another way of thinking about this number is that it probably represents 2,500 CDs.

Why don’t we know how many different pieces of music we have?  Well, that’s part of what we’re working on now.  Our computer system counts these four pieces of music as different pieces of music, currently :

  • Beethoven Symphony #3
  • Beethoven Eroica Symphony
  • Beethoven Symphony 3 op.55
  • Beethoven’s Third Symphony in E flat major

There are very many more ways that same identical symphony can be described!

For a computer database program, even a single character or extra space of difference is enough to make it think that two music pieces are different rather than the same.  We have to match them all together, so the system knows how differently described pieces of music are actually the same.

Is 25,000 tracks enough to start playing a broad range of classical music without having to play pieces of music more frequently than we want?  Yes.  Would more tracks be better?  Alas, again yes.  We do have many more storage boxes of CDs waiting to be converted to digital format and added to our electronic library, then cataloged and analyzed and filed, so we’re not too much worried about being short of tracks to select and play for you.

Some long-established traditional type classical music radio stations have over 100,000 tracks in their libraries, a few might have over 500,000 tracks.  But the “secret sauce” of providing you with music you like is not the number of different tracks, but the reality of which tracks we play you, and in what sequence.  And that brings us to the next Herculean task we’re working on.

We need to work through every one of those 25,000 tracks (and of course, all the many more that we’ve yet to add) and analyze each piece of music, detailing a range of different attributes for each piece so we can create programs of music that “flow” nicely and smoothly.  Those attributes range from easy to evaluate parameters such as “When was this music written?” and “Who is playing it?” to harder parameters such as “Is this music happy or sad?”, “Is this music fast or slow”, and many more such things.

So, when can you expect to hear us out of the speaker and device of your choice, at home, at work, or in your car?

The next stage in our development will be experimenting with programming, to see if what we abstractly think will sound pleasing to you actually “works” and is as good in reality as we think it might be on paper.  If you’d like to become one of our program evaluators, and get access to these unpublished streams, feel free to let us know and it will be a pleasure to add you to the list of people with access.  All we ask in return is that maybe, once in a while, you send us some thoughts about the programming, what you like and don’t like, so we can continue to fine-tune this.

And if you’d like to volunteer, either as a “librarian” or as an on-air presenter, please do let us know about that, too!

Please stay tuned for more updates.

Written by: David Rowell

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