Why bother with music on the Web? Begurpardon? Tell that to your marching band, your Fine Arts Showcase participant, your . . . well, you get the picture!
Obviously, this means that such events need to be recorded. It is beyond the scope of this resource to discuss the process of recording live performances, but almost any audio source will give you something to work with: a simple boom box, cassette deck, or even the audio track of a videotape can be easily digitized. It is even possible to record directly to a laptop by plugging in a microphone. At Bryan Station we have a stand-alone direct-to-CD recorder. We then use the resultant CD, which will play on any CD player or computer CDROM drive.
For the sake of this discussion, we will assume you already have digital sound files, either in CD or WAV format. For a discussion of how to produce these files, see "Recording Digitally" under "CD Production" in "Sound.".
Since MP3’s are all the rage amongst the Internet dweeb set, good programs that convert music formats are all over the place. However, a warning – do NOT allow your kids to download and install Napster or its clones – this will simply open up your network for massive amounts of bandwidth-eating! It isn’t the format (MP3 is quite useful), it’s the MP3 culture that is the problem.
Good format-conversion programs:
Ø Cool Edit: Downloadable as shareware from http://www.cooledit.com/ You have to be sure to get Cool Edit 2000 - Cool Edit Pro, it's older and more sophisticated brother, is only a demo as a download, and contains no MP3 conversion ability.
Ø MusicMatch Jukebox: Good all-around conversion program. The basic version is free to download from http://www.musicmatch.com/.
Ø Adaptec CD Creator: This software is an excellent companion to a CD burner, burning music CDs much more dependably than the cheaper ones. It converts CDs to WAV files, but doesn’t convert to MP3.
Ø MIDI Programs: ): Music Instrument Digital Interface is a whole ‘nother world. If you intend to use it, you’ll need a program aimed specifically at it. See Sound/MIDI/Music Setups for a discussion of MIDI tools.
Ø No “Autoplay!” Music is important to us all, and should be a part of every website. However, most folks don’t like surprises, and a music file that runs automatically slows the loading of a web page for no reason the user can detect. Make your music files simple hyperlinks, putting control on when they play in the hands of the visitor.
Ø Use samples! If you want to add music to your orchestra’s web page, several 20-second excerpts will serve just as well as entire compositions, and won’t hurt bandwidth.
Ø Don’t get fussy about quality! Showing off your students is just as effective with excerpts at high compression and small file size. Remember: most client computers have 1-2” speakers that won’t benefit from high-quality files anyway!