The Classical Music Navigator: Introduction & Philosophy
How to Use This Service  
Version Two
Some Nice Things That Have Been Said on the Web about The Classical Music Navigator

The Classical Music Navigator: Introduction & Philosophy

Welcome to Version Two of The Classical Music Navigator, a different concept in classical music education! Whereas many other introductions to the classical music world are in the business of inculcation--they talk at you, about the composers and the music--we have created a different approach. This is based on the "points of familiarity" idea, which, thankfully, can easily be described in just a few words.

Most people explore new subjects by starting with the familiar--in our terms here, a "point of familiarity." In the case of music, this may mean hearing some work on the radio or at a friend's house and taking an immediate liking; at this stage, translating your interest into productive action (finding more music of the same likable type) implicitly depends on a series of evaluations. Perhaps it's the whole genre of music that holds the appeal; on the other hand, maybe it's only the instrumentation on the particular piece that's set you off. Or perhaps it's the message or style of the performing artist or composer. The point is, you don't really know at first, and at times it's difficult to proceed efficiently without some additional insight.

That's where we come in. We have compiled information on important classical music composers and their works and arrayed these data in a fashion making it easier for the novice or casual listener to identify additional materials that are allied to his or her already-existing "points of familiarity." Let's take an example. Suppose you hear the Ravel G major piano concerto on the radio, and take an immediate liking to it. Our database will help you extend this interest to other music by making it possible for you to quickly identify: additional works by Ravel, other piano concerti, other works for piano in general, other concerti in general, composers allied to the same general period and style (Impressionism) as Ravel, other French composers, composers and styles that influenced Ravel, and composers influenced by Ravel.

How to Use This Service   

This service consists most basically of five compilations of material: (1) a master, alphabetically-arranged, "Composers" list (containing basic data, major works, and influences) of 500 individuals; (2) a "Basic Library" list of works culled from this master list (and re-arranged by musical genre); (3) a "Geographical Roster" in which the names of the 500 composers are listed under the names of the countries with which they were (/are) associated; (4) an alphabetically-arranged "Index of Forms and Styles" listing the names of composers associated with each subject entry; and (5) a "Glossary," which defines terms used here. Each of these lists is scrollable and accessible from the same window; to switch entirely from one list to another to begin a different kind of browsing one need only click on one of the light blue links provided on the top frame.

To continue with the earlier example... Upon hearing the piano work by Ravel on the radio, you may wish to identify it and get some more basic information on this composer. Click on "Composers," then use the anchor to link to "R," scrolling down to "Ravel." You notice in examining the 'Musical Influences' section of the entry that Ravel was influenced by jazz, and wish to identify additional composers so influenced. Click on the word "jazz" in that section; this connects you with a list of jazz-influenced composers on the "Index of Forms and Styles" page. Wishing to return to the main "Ravel" entry, you click on the 'Back' button on your browser. After again examining the main (Ravel) entry for a while, you decide you would like to obtain a list of French composers from around his time; this can be accomplished by clicking on the word "French" found next to Ravel's name and dates. You are now at the "France" entry on the "Geographical Roster" page. And so on.

Each of the five lists employs enhancement features that can be identified by clicking on the light orange "Explanation of Features" link at the top of the page (or, in the case of the main list, by clicking on the dark black section heading identifiers--'Genre Profile' or 'Best Known For,' for example). The "Glossary" page may be accessed directly, or by clicking on the 'G' symbols associated with most of the "Index of Forms and Styles" entries. Frequently used abbreviations are explained via the light orange "Abbreviations" link. Links to a few major sites that will provide more detailed biographical and other information on the composers may be found under "Links." Information of a more technical nature on the compilation of the material provided at this site (as well as information on the compilers) can be obtained by clicking on the light orange "About this Site" link. Enjoy!

Version Two 

Version Two of this service, launched on 30 December 2010, is arranged in basically the same format as was Version One, but coverage has been expanded to 500 composers and incorporates much new subject-indexing and data as to composer influences. This new information in turn has made it possible to generate new kinds of statistical analysis of the content, so much so that a separate page (Statistics) was set up. This page will introduce the results of these analyses as they become available; it also contains a more detailed accounting of the methodology used to set up the initial composer rankings. The "111 Most Influential Composers" listing provided on this page in Version One can now be accessed in an updated and expanded version through that page. Note that the top 111 entries overall have their rank preceding them in the "Composers" section. Version 2.1, opened in 2017, incorporated additional research on composer influences. In 2019 evaluations of inter-composer similarities were added to the "Composers" and "Statistics" sections!

Some Nice Things That Have Been Said on the Web about The Classical Music Navigator 

"The Classical Music Navigator is a new concept in music education and a good point of departure into the wide world of music. This database is very useful and offers a host of interesting entries: by composers, by notable works library, by geographical location, by style and form of music and finally by glossary. This Web site has compiled information on important classical composers and their works and arrayed these data in a fashion that makes it easier for the novice or casual listener to identify additional materials that are allied to his or her already-existing 'points of familiarity'. This database will help you extend this interest to other music. [four star (best) rating]" --LudwigVanWeb.com, Links

"This site is called Classical Music Navigator and it is the most complete site I have ever found on classical music. They have indexed Classical music in a multitude of categories. So you can search using common methods but also by style and form." --Enatai Elementary School (Bellevue, WA) website

"A wonderful way to teach students how to identify music by composer and the song's auditory characteristics. Also has a integrated database of composers, works, geographical locations, and time periods." --EducationAppreciation.com, Links

"A novel resource for exploring the world of classical music, whether by association, geography, or time." --Rieger Pipe Organ, Christchurch NZ, Pipe Organ-Related Websites

"This well-designed educational site from Charles Smith of Western Kentucky University is geared toward students, novices, and teachers..." --AllLearn (Oxford/Stanford/Yale), Classical Music, General Resources

"The most complete source for classical music on the web. Composer biographies, musical terminology, musical periods, and more." --Trussville (AL) Public Library, Helpful Web Sites

"...Well done site." --Expand the World: Resource Links: The Arts Links

"First rate site with lots of links to major music sites and an interesting ranking of composers by influence. See if you agree with the ranking of your favourite composer." --Jeremy Verity, Classical Music Links

"A fine all-purpose classical music site covering history, terminology, styles and history." --Boise Schools Page, Musical Links

"Great for researching Composers. (Also for notable works, geographical roster, forms & styles of music and glossary.)" --St. Clair Co. (MI) Library, Music Links

"excellent overview of classical music forms, major works, and composers" --Earl Gregg Swem Library, College of William & Mary, Music Resources

"--Wow!!! I think you all will really enjoy this!" --Fun Music Ideas e-newsletter, Issue #50

"Use this friendly database to find works by your favorite composers, forms, instruments, periods, or styles." --Newark (NJ) Public Library, Music Sites

"Also check out The Classical Music Navigator for another impressive and elaborate site." --James Allan, University of Massachusetts

"In addition to the ways you would expect to search for classical music information--by composers and important works--there is a glossary, a geographical index, and an index of forms and styles of music which goes beyond definition to point to composers practicing those forms. There is also a special feature on the 111 most influential composers." --Carnegie Public Library, Steuben County, Music Links

"This site is designed to help the browser find familiar composers or forms within the realm of classical music. Includes a list of the 111 most influential composers! An excellent site for the novice listener." --Winnipeg Public Library, Internet Resources: Music

"...This is a great resource for choosing pieces of music that are similar to pieces you already know and appreciate!" --Halvorson Music Library, St. Olaf College, Internet Resources for Music

"Well-organized, up-to-date and useful site for garnishing quick information about a particular composer." --Woodhouse Library, Aquinas College, Music Resources

"Website of the Month" --W. H. Bell Music Library, University of Cape Town

"This web site provides a nice resource on general music knowledge." --Matt Fail, University of Florida School of Music, Internet Sources


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All pages at this site copyright 2000-2019 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.
Last modified 4 September 2019.