Cheap Music

I was watching something recently that used the music “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” which is one of those great pieces of classical music that you recognize instantly, starting off slowly and building up pretty quickly in a little more than 2 minutes. There is the instrumental version plus a version with singing that comes from the Norwegian play, “Peer Gynt” by Henrik Ibsen, with music by Edvard Grieg, written in 1876. I figured I would like to download it, but the version with the singing is kind of scary, even in Norwegian (a bunch of trolls want to torture and kill Peer Gynt). I found the instrumental version on some compilations of popular classical music on Amazon. You could buy the song for 99 cents. But if you look at some of the albums it appears on, you notice that some of these are MP3 compilations of 99 songs and the entire compilation is only $1.99. So for another dollar, you get 98 more songs.

I was looking around for apps recently on iTunes and found an app called AppZilla that is one app with hundreds of little apps in it. For 99 cents you get all these apps, but I looked over them and honestly, I didn’t want a single one of those things. Would this 99-song compilation be like AppZilla?

The other question was which compilation of 99 songs to get because there are several. If you read the reviews and look at the compilations, there is a lot of overlap, so you really only want to get one of the compilations. I looked around and the one that seemed the most interesting to me was called “The 99 Most Essential Classical Pieces in Movies” and includes music from the widest base since it doesn’t cover any particular style, composer, or era. There is Gershwin as well as Mozart; classical music and opera. I have a couple of opera compilations already, plus some operas that I bought on CD. Really there isn’t a huge amount of really good operas, and most of the stuff you hear comes from maybe 20 different operas, including some surprises that you don’t think of as being opera, like The Wedding March.

Anyway, the music on these compilations seems to mostly come from the London Philharmonic Orchestra and different eastern European orchestras. In fact, I already had Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” performed by Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra that I bought on a cheap CD and yet here is the exact same 16 minute, 33 second version of it as Track 3. The entire MP3 album of 99 songs is 9 hours, 46 minutes, and 11 seconds of music. For $1.99! It’s not Deutsche Grammophone featuring the greatest performers of our era or anything. But it seems okay to me for the most part, though I was a little disappointed that Habanera from Carmen didn’t have the vocal (neither did Ave Maria, but Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring does have vocals when I would rather it didn’t) (don’t worry, I have a vocal version of Habanera on one of my opera compilations).

I don’t like all of it (how do you screw up Pachelbel’s Canon?). But at least half of it is good and maybe I’ll learn to like some of the stuff on the other half. And some of it is just famous, but not necessarily something you want to listen to, like Flight of the Bumblebee, the William Tell Overture, the Wedding March, the graduation song, and the Funeral March. Plus stuff that you’ve heard too much of anyway like The Blue Danube and Claire de Lune.

Okay, after I got that album, I noticed there is another collection called 66 Must-Have Sensual Classics, and it is $0.00. So you can’t beat that (don’t know how I missed it; it has a butt on the cover). And it has singing on Habanera! Had to get that too, but it might be of even more marginal quality.

3 thoughts on “Cheap Music

  1. Volume. I wonder if the titles are out of copyright or were released without rights in order to promote the orchestras and/or classical music.

    I’m having a hard time finding very many good songs on the free album, but there are a few. They have some songs from operas, but they use instrumental versions, which aren’t as good.

  2. I went through all of these songs in iTunes and rewrote their tags. I wanted the Artist to be “Classical” rather than Various. I’ve done this with Opera albums as well and it keeps everything organized better. Also I changed the title of the song to be the composer first, then the piece of music, and then the song itself, like this: “Mozart – Requiem – Agnes Dei.” But I also blanked out Composer to stop unwanted sorting and then preserved the name of the performer and maybe some other information from the original title in the Comments field. This takes a long time, but on my iPod all I see is the Artist and Title, so the Title has all the information I want.

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