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This is the new stuff!

img  Tobias

Despite many people's firm belief that the Internet is either something like Satan's backyard (with a lot of useful, but highly dangerous sites) or the scrapyard of human culture (with a lot of pretty-looking, hollow pages without a meaning or a mission), there are actually a lot of brilliant ressources out there. Pages, that you would never have thought possible, that you might have been searching for all your life. The only problem is: How are you going to find them, with all of that junk obstructing your view?

That's right, by accepting help and using portals. Just like in those science fiction movies, a portal will take you to the most unbelievable places in no time (and you can save yourself the space suit this time). As the Web grows, portals (or "hubs" as they're sometimes called) will only gain importance, because even good search engines will not be able to sort the good from the bad (and google is probably moving into banking and insurances by then). Take the world of New Music or Avant-Garde. This is a highly fragmented scene, with few famous names (and most of those approaching retirement age). And also one so small that even the more important or useful sites are having a hard time being noticed. Thanks to "Net New Music", things have become a lot easier.

The idea behind the site is simple: "NetNewMusic is a portal for the world of non-pop, contemporary classical/indy/avant-whatever musics. We focus on the best living composer/performer sites that offer complete musical works to listen to online. We tend to stay away from teasers or excerpts, favoring complete audio files ready to be heard right now.", as Jeff Harrington, the portal's founder, explains. Translated into more concrete language, that means that you get a listing of well-sorted links that will take you to composer's sites from around the world, as well as to different blogs, New Music Webzines (such as ours), New Music Performers and Radio Stations. Some of the categories are better represented than others, which is not a bad thing though - Net New Music's creators didn't aim for completeness, but for a selection of truly interesting sites. According to Harrington: "The links chosen for inclusion here are all musicians that we personally listen to and appreciate for their skill and creativity."

So. how useful are these links really? We randomly clicked on three composers and must say that we were impressed: Take Amos Elkana, an Isreaeli who has had works performed by orchestras and ensemble such as the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Musica Nova Consort, Berlin Saxophone Quartet,  Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, Carmel String Quartet, Academia String Quartet and many others. Just quickly tuning into his String Quartet from 2004 convinced us that we had a winner here: A distinctive and chiselled style, not obviously harmonic, but with lots of openings and recognisable motives. Or take Mireille Gleizes, a "poetic piano player" and proponent of the movement of the "New Consonants" (more on that in a seperate article, their motto, slightly abreviated, is: if you have something to say, just say it!). Her magic interpretation of Morozowicz' "Variaçoes Frère Jacques" just made my day with its gentle and comoforting tone and a roller-coaster ride through human emotion. Orlisten to Australian Robert Davidson, who is touring with his ensemble Topology and sharing the gift of Minimalism. He has also recorded a too-good-to-be-true CD in collaboration with electronic band "Full Fathom Five" (possibly the closest New Music and contemporary Electronics have come without hurting each other - just listen to the magnificent "Between Stations").

And there's more! Since the demise of mp3.com, modern composers have been in a state of shell-shock: What started out as a dream for the eclectic music fan - millions of hours of music just a few clicks away - ended up in a nightmare: With the disappearance of the old infrastructure and the remodelling of that site into yet another regular commercial outfit, it took a pretty long time for musicians to reorganise (the already mentioned Mireille Gleizes, e.g., has had to take down almost all the extracts of her pieces she was offering). Now a site closely associated to "New Net Music" is offering a solution: Cacophonous.org is a simple and ingenious system. Basically, this is a huge jukebox, which will play all files which carry a specific "tag". Composers who would like to contribute can tag their MP3 URL mp3_classical_contemporary at del.iciou.us and then Cacophonous will play the file - to many, many listeners out there who are open-minded and hungry for alternatives to college radio.

Jeff Harington seems to have had the right idea at the right time - people are coming to his site in ever growing numbers and the directory is growing as well. Which means that you can come back regularly and find out about new developments, new composers and even new reviews (there is a seperate section for that as well, with well-written texts about unusual releases). Even if the Web should sometimes appear to be a pretty downbeat place, at least you know that you'll find your way through the maze.

Homepage: Net New Music
Homepage: Amos Elkana
Homepage: Mireille Gleizes
Homepage: Robert Davidson
Homepage: Full Fathom Five


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