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Q. What is a "download"?
A. It's a music file which can be played on your computer, copied to a disc, or played on your personal device.

When you visit our website, we give (sell you legally) access to our hard drive, which has numerous recordings stored on it. Once you have paid for the music through our system, we email you a code which enables you to
collect or download the file through your internet connection.

Q. Why would I want a download of early music?
A. Our site makes it possible for devotees of early music to get access to rare performances of selected works which are not available in the mass market. Access is available to anyone, anywhere in the world, with an internet connection. Early music has a special quality not found in the contemporary world. It's calming, spiritual, intellectually interesting, sensuous and the sound of the instruments is unique. Our playing is shaped by years of working with the instruments, composers, playing in concert and doing a lot of research and practising. You'll like it.

Q. Is downloading legal?
A. Yes. When you download a recording from our site, you are doing something which is 100% legal. We have copyrighted our recordings, so we are legally able to make them available for sale on our site to users. Our sales cost of $1.50 CAD for 3 minutes is average in the music industry, and the costs are very similar to CD prices in Canada (one of the lowest CD sales averages in the world).

Because our material is copyrighted, sharing the music over the internet without paying for it is illegal. This is called 'file sharing' and should not be confused with legal downloading.

Q. Can I make a disc copy of my downloaded music and how can I play it?

A. Yes, you are allowed to make a disc copy for your personal use, you can copy it to your hardrive and incorporate it into a compilation, and you can play it while your answering your e-mail or sorting paper clips by colour. You can lend it to a friend, but they may not copy it without buying their own download. And you can't make fifteen copies and sell them, just as you can't show up at a movie theatre with your camcorder and a large cape - that's illegal.

If you wish, you can transfer the download to an MP3 player, such as iPod or equivalent device. You can write it to a CD and play it in your CD or DVD player. A lot of people simply store it on the hard drive of their computers and play it through the media players and speakers. All of these are personal uses. It makes working on a computer a bit less stressful, though we think it would be nice if you would sit and listen to it without distractions, at least once. Read the first newsletter on the subject of listening to our music, it may help you to imagine a world you never suspected.

Q. Can I buy a CD?
A. Yes. Three of our jewel-boxed CD's with booklets and cover art are available from this site.

Q. Why should I pay for a download from earlymusicstudio.com if I can get a free file from the web?
A. Judging by our web statistics, a lot of people are surfing for free downloads. Our downloads are high-quality, virus-free and legal.

A lot of the free music files on the web really are not very good quality. That's why they are free.

We have made unique recordings which combine fine instruments, a high standard of technical production, and excellent performances. Some of our material is very hard to find elsewhere. Our particular pairings of instrument and composer are very specific and chosen for their illumination of what is a lost tradition.

We do a lot of research and reflection to find what we think is a combination that works musically and historically. You won't find that for free anywhere. Our supporting material is intended to underline this important point. That information is free and is supposed to help you to hear the music in a way that makes sense for the modern listener who may not be a specialist or aficionado.

We think the time and effort we put into it is worth it.

Q. Should I choose MP3 or wav files for the best quality?
A. Wave files are higher definition, but our MP3 files are easily compatible with portable media players, so it depends on your choice of media. MP3 files use a rate of compression that is variable, so we have chosen a slightly compressed version for quick downloading and use on players. But the original recording is an uncompressed wave file, and that's what you might prefer for listening on an audiophile-quality system.

Compression reduces the file size, but some of the really fine distinctions are inevitably less acute. It may be apparent to you that the harpsichord, with its bright attacks, and the lute, with its very soft gut string sound, act differently with the MP3 algorithm (method of file compression). Likewise you'll be able to hear the harpsichord very well in the car, but the lute sounds a little strange, kind of disembodied. Unless you own a Lexus or Mercedes...

Q. Why do you at earlymusicstudio provide music in downloadable format?
A. We like being able to select material without having to program a themed CD. We especially like the freedom from time constraints, allowing us to play repeated sections which the composers have specified. For example, you may notice that we often deal differently with the same material on the repeats. In addition, we can pass on the saving in the cost of production to our customers.

As retailers are increasingly pressed by the costs of maintaining expensive space in high-tax commercial real-estate, the attraction of downloads is greater. They offer the consumer greater choice and access to material that would never sell in a retail store, unless it were in a very specific market in a very large city. It give us access to you, as well as the other way around.

The dialogue of musician and audience is one of the most interesting things about intimate music such as we play.

Q. What are period instruments and why are they interesting?
A. Period instruments are constructed to re-create sounds that composers would have heard during their lives. Look at our early instruments pages for more on the specific instruments and the music appropriate for them. Since they are made from individual materials, often by a single person, rather than in a factory, they have an individual sound.

The composers exploited these qualities. In our case some of the instruments were actually made by the player, so they reflect a completeness of purpose which was the hallmark of the period. Part of our skill lies in selecting which instrument to use for the music of a particular composer, and in making that choice apparent to the listener. In a highly commercial world those kind of choices are becoming increasingly endangered by mass market numbness.

Q. Why are so many different instruments used for the music?
A. Composers from different periods and countries used different instruments. Our website presently includes music from about 1600 to the 1920's. Each of the pieces may have a different requirement for an instrument and style of playing which is unique to the piece. In the case of the lutes many tunings are used, as well as fretting and temperament (scale division) systems which are unique to the time or composer.

With keyboards, which are often expensive and labour-intensive to make, there are radical differences of stringing, size and shape, materials, keyboard proportions and other details which give the instruments and the music played on them a unique character.

These differences are readily apparent to the listener. In order to make you more informed and we hope, appreciative of these qualities, we have included notes and photos about the instruments and music which make these important points clear.

Q. Who made the instruments?
A. The antique instruments, such as the Broadwood square piano and the Hermann Hauser guitar, date from the period of the compositions.

The other instruments, the harpsichords, lutes, period guitar, and Viennese fortepiano are reproductions. We make distinctions of naming by talking about "antiques", those made in the period of their music, and "period instruments", which are made in our time, but for a specific period of music.

In this application, even our contemporary instruments are "period" instruments. There's a thought! Read our early instrument pages for details and photos. We choose the instrument carefully to reflect the sound world of the composer, based on a reading of the sources about music, and the music itself.

Q. Are they recorded differently from modern instruments?
A. We have chosen techniques of recording and editing which bring out the character of each instrument and the music played on it. Our approach is to try to let you hear as much as possible what the player hears while playing, rather than what you might hear at a live concert.

There are no coughs or noisy cough-drop wrappers, no overwhelming perfume or other odours, no squirming children, no worrying about the security of your car. Live concerts are a very different medium which calls for instruments and music designed for them, just as these instruments were designed for use mainly at home or in larger rooms, rather than concert halls.

Early music is often not suited to this environment. Recording it may be the best way to enjoy it!

Q. There is so much music on your site. How can I decide what to choose?
A. Based on customer feedback, may we offer the following suggestions:

Try downloading one of our pre-selected packages of downloads, thus avoiding the whole difficult choice. Trust us, we know what goes together. We do this for a living!

If you would rather just try an individual work, suite or sonata (collection of pieces by one composer):

For an intimate gathering of friends, try a lute suite by Reusner or Weiss.

Children love piano and guitar music like the Carulli Sonata.

One friend finds that Bach is perfect for Sunday morning listening, and we have Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for lute, French Suite #5 for harpsichord, or the beautiful Largo which we transcribed for lute and harpsichord.

Feeling blue? Mozart always lifts the spirit, particularly with pieces like Sonata K. 330 or 331.

Haydn's music is very witty; try the Sonata in E-flat major.

For a sparkling atmosphere we recommend the Musettes by Couperin and De Visée.

And for you abstract/minimalist people we have the Tombeau for Glenn Gould.

We offer a wide variety of music to suit many tastes.


Early Music Studio info@earlymusicstudio.com Kelowna, British Columbia Canada (250) 769-2884
Copyright © 2005. This site is provided by the Society of Friends of the Early Music Studio, registered in British Columbia, Canada
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