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Sonic Visualiser session files and linked mp3s for use with ‘Inventing tradition’

This webpage provides access to all the recordings of the first movement of Op. 27 that are in the public domain at the time of writing, apart from Gould’s 1957 recording from Leningrad (which became available after data processing had been completed) and Pestalozza 1961, of which rights on my copy are held by the British Library. It is unfortunate that a recent EU directive means that recordings subsequent to these are likely to enter the public domain only after 2037; some but by no means all are available commercially, via Spotify, or on YouTube.

Click here to download a zip archive containing the following recordings of the first movement of Op. 27, together with associated Sonic Visualiser session files:

  • Peter Stadlen 1948
  • Jacques-Louis Monod 1951
  • Glenn Gould 1954
  • Jeanne Manchon-Theis 1954
  • Stein, Leonard 1954
  • Paul Jacobs 1956
  • Glenn Gould (Moscow) 1957
  • Webster Aitken 1961
  • Yvonne Loriod 1961
  • Franzpeter Goebels 1964
  • Glenn Gould 1964

Available for all major platforms and operating systems and freely available on the web, Sonic Visualiser allows flexible navigation of the recordings; the associated session files include event numbers keyed to the score (online or at Appendix 2 of ‘Inventing tradition’), which make it easy to go to any particular point in the recording and hence follow the account in the text. Session files also include tempo graphs (heavy line), dynamic graphs, piano-roll notations corresponding to the notes in the score, and spectrograms, all of which move in time with the music.

The home page for Sonic Visualiser is, where you will find downloads for Windows, OSX, and Linux platforms. No plugins are required to play these files. Once you have installed Sonic Visualiser, click on the link above and unzip it to any chosen location. Play the recordings by opening the associated session files. Provided the unzipped files are all in the same directory, Sonic Visualiser will automatically locate the associated sound file.

Use of Sonic Visualiser to play back Media Examples is simple and intuitive, with the familiar play, pause, and stop controls (space bar to start and stop). The sound wave and associated visual elements scroll against a playback point in the middle of the screen. To move forwards or backwards, drag the box at the bottom of the screen (which shows a miniature version of the waveform for the entire recording), aligning the desired bar number (at the top of the screen) with the playback point. You can remove the control area to the right of the screen, which is not required for simple playback, by typing X.

Sonic Visualiser is a much more powerful program than the above might suggest, offering among other things a range of spectrographic and other visualisations, the ability to create tempo, duration, and dynamic graphs, and a facility to synchronise multiple recordings of the same work. 'A musicologist's guide to Sonic Visualiser', authored by Nicholas Cook and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, may be accessed on the CHARM website. Before using it you will need to download and instal a number of plugins, together with a zip archive containing sound files and associated session files; for further details see 'Getting started with Sonic Visualiser'.

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