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MP3 cyberchambermusic - Schubert Quintet

Chamber music without the chamber.

4 MP3 Songs
ELECTRONIC: Virtual Orchestra, CLASSICAL: Traditional


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.

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.
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Schubert''s story is that of an undiscovered master 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 as a writer of songs - for which there was a great demand. But songs were not ranked high in the scale of musical forms. 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 C-major Quintet heard here. However, he did not energetically promote these works or pursue their publication. Why? We do not know. The quintet was not published or performed in his lifetime. Indeed, it was only in the 20th century that Schubert''s masterful contributions have become fully known.

Any one of the four movements could stand alone as a masterpiece. The adagio, the longest movement at 16 minutes, is in itself breathtaking in its craftsmanship. Taken together the work runs some 50 minutes. Schubert has elevated the quintet form to a new height.

Cyberchambermusic''s rendering is brilliant in its clarity.

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