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14 November 2008

Classic/amp: Australian music online

New visibility for classical and experimental works

Classic/amp: Australian music online

With a sigh of relief we launched classic/amp on 31 October. 'We' is ABC Classic FM's Australian Music Unit in collaboration with the network's new web producer Stephen Cannings. 'classic/amp' (Classic Australian Music Presented) is a new online home for recordings of Australian classical and experimental music from the ABC archives.

And the relief? Up till now, web presentation of these kinds of music at ABC Classic FM has been tied to one-off and special projects, with permissions for web presentation of the performances often given for a limited time period only. With amp, we've extended the time frame to indefinite (the next best thing to 'permanent' in a world of impermanence) and brought a wide range of 'heritage' and recent music into consideration. This has been possible because of the willingness of the many artists featured in these recordings, including our symphony orchestras, to support this project.

This first selection of pieces is just a taste of the potential as we open up the ABC's music archives in search of the significant, the striking and the unusual in an effort to make our musical heritage increasingly accessible to music students and teachers, and to ABC Classic FM's more curious and adventurous listeners. 

Apart from the quality of the music, links will be the other key ingredient to the usefulness of this site. As broadcasters and music producers, we are not specialists in every aspect of what might be useful to such listeners. This is where the links come into play.

Organisations such as the Australian Music Centre and the National Library of Australia seem to be natural cultural partners in this enterprise. We're all interested in preserving and extending the accessibility and relevance of Australian musical culture, but our skills and resources are different. By building an increasingly comprehensive web of links between the recordings on amp and bios, scores, interviews and other related online material elsewhere, we should be able to make this a rich resource and increase the usefulness of all the participating websites.

And it's not just links to other organisations. The site will also contain links to individual artist sites and to other buried treasures including some within the ABC's own website. An example of this is Australia AdLib, a web project curated by Jon Rose to present a diverse array of Australia's more unusual musical improvisers, experimenters and backyard mavericks. Though discontinued and with no direct portal on the current ABC website, the site still exists and can be linked to whenever artists presented on Ad Lib appear in the amp collection. 

For now, the works on the site are accessible only via a list of links. But in the near future we plan to add local search facilities to the site. This will enable visitors to find what they want as the collection expands beyond its initial 40 works.

And we're planning to introduce guest curators into the mix in the not-too-distant future to bring diverse passions and specialisations to bear on the selection and presentation of the music in the collection.

Right now I'm itching for all these plans to become a reality. But the success of this enterprise will depend on how useful it is to Australian music lovers such as you. So please take a look at www.abc.net.au/classic/amp and give us your feedback.

Further links


Subjects discussed by this article:

Stephen Adams is a composer of concert music, music theatre and digital music. Since 2004, he has been working full-time at ABC Classic FM in the development of Australian music programming, recording and commissioning projects, and online Australian music presentation. Since 2006, he has been co-producer of CFM’s New Music Up Late program. Recent on-line projects include the AMU podcast, Orpheus Remix Awards, Lute Project and classic/amp.


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