Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize - Composers Web Project
MP3 or Real Audio? page 2 British Composers with many sound files
musicnow has CD tracks and video
including tracks for sale online

Getting Sound Out of Your Computer - If you are having trouble playing audio files firstly you need to ensure that your computer is audio capable. i.e. that there is a sound card and speakers installed.
If all that is OK and you still can't play Mp3 files you need to Download MP3 Software which will install the necessary codec (player) on your system.
Another solution is to download Netshow 2.0 Player (1800k) which is free, this will install several recent codecs including those for Mp3.

A few MP3 Players for Windows:

MP3 Players for DOS:(we have not tested these)

All the MPEG layer3 files on the Composers Web Project site have a .wav extension and after you install the winplay3 player or NetShow 2, the codec will be available to Win95.

In IE3 or IE4 ActiveX will recognise that they are Mp3 encoded and play them back (decode) as if they were ordinary wav files. In other words it is transparent in its operation and there is no need for any other complicated plug-in configeration, or to pay!

Netscape 4x, with the latest media player installed, will also work very well without the need for any plug-in jiggerypockery, although we could never get Mp3 to work for previous versions of Netscape.

It is worth checking out the very useful things that RealAudio/Video have up their sleeves, download their new RealPlayer5. LiquidAudio has also made some interesting recent developments.

This site hosts the British Composers Project, which has a very broad sweep of music styles including some very complex music. Being able to hear even a short illustration of a work makes the experience of looking around more interesting (examples at bottom of page). The question has been what path to follow as far as audio goes. It is the usual dilemma of quality, file size, streaming and download times etc. and what format is most readily available to most of the people dropping by the site.

As the music can go from being highly complex to very simple within a single piece and often have a high dynamic range, we had to be quite disconcerning about what codecs to use. While nothing is definitive as events are developing all the time, for the present sound clips will be in either Real Audio or Mp3 formats for these reasons:

Real Audio because the players seem to be the most widespread at this time, as they have been around for a while. Incidently Microsoft have a free RA player (Real Audio/Video) available from their NetShow site.

Mp3, (it is in fact MPEG2 layer3 also MPEG1 layer3). Generally we think that when dealing with very highly compressed web audio, Mp3 is the most suitable codec available at this time. It is also modern and non proprietory. All codecs have audible artefects the difference being with Mp3 that these are more musical to the ear than Ra although RealAudio are developing some new more advanced systems, so we will wait and see (and listen). Here's hoping that all browsers will give it their support and will build it in as standard in the future.

If you would like to try or hear/see some other possibilities then take a look at musicnow record label which has Active Steaming (ASF) and RealMedia (RM) samples ... something for the near future which we hope to do more of! You will need NetShow and/or RealMedia Player.

Or if you want simply want to hear what we have been talking about try listening to these files for the differences.
Croppy Boy from CD Cardew Piano Music is ideal for Mp3 with a lot of music in the mid to low range of the piano. The Ra version has high end graininess which spoils the sound (althought their new codec promises 80% improvement).
Shanshai To be fair with some musical content Ra can work better, for instance, Shanshai (Sam Fendrich) because it has a lot of high cymbal type sounds and the original audio was highly compressed.
4 Bagatelles This unusual angular piece by John Webb has a piano accordion in an unlikely setting Pizz Violins etc. producing a complex spikey timbre.
Willow Waves from CD A Little Water Music Very pure sounding piano music, this is an instrument that does not take kindly to being compressed.

Why not visit the Composers Project or musicnow site for more sounds and have a browse.
Any relevant comments on the issue of audio are of interest to us
e-mail musicnow or put a note in the guestbook.
Return to British Composers main index

Page maintained by Brigid Scott Baker, Contact MUSICNOW
Copyright(c)1997, 1998 MUSICNOW Created: 23/06/97 Updated: 06/06/98