Understanding Valence and Classical Music

I just watched the introductory video on Roon 1.8. I found mysel excited about the possibility of ‘exploring classical music in a new way - across period, composer, conductor, performer, label…’. As someone who feels overwhelmed by the history and catalog of pieces, this sounds great.

Keep in mind I’m new to Roon. My question is, if my personal collection of classical music is scattered (from Terry Riley to Hildegard of Bingen) yet animic, how can Roon help me explore the wider world. Does it index Services like Qobuz to fill in its encyclopedia of recordings? Or does it depend on my local catalog.

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That’s a good question @Jim_Meyer. As things stand I think Room builds the detailed database from your library. That’s what drives focus, suggesting that it’ll be restricted to your library.

Bear in mind I may well be wrong and it’s a new release, things change.

I guess they do. I guess such attributes are already in the metadata of Tidal and Qobuz and Roon is exposing a nice interface to facilitating the search functionalities.

Might help to get a book, as well.

Perhaps Robert Greenberg’s “How to Listen to Great Music”, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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That is a great summary of why we built this.

We wanted people to have a way to explore classical music that does not depend on them already being an expert. I think there are many potential lovers of classical music out there who are missing out because it’s just so difficult to explore that world incrementally.

Start with a composer and listen to the most popular recording each of their most popular compositions, and you’ll have a really great experience. Then you can decide whether to dig into a particular form (e.g. Symphony, Waltz, Concerto), digest their whole catalog, move onto a related composer, or explore an interesting musician or ensemble that you discovered during that listening decision.

Start with a genre like Opera and immediately get an overview of the most important operas, vocalists, conductors, and composers, and then start developing your own taste and opinions while listening to that stuff.

You’re going to find things you like and want to dig in, and the stuff you don’t like will become a reference point to help you understand that composer, time period or musical form for the future. We’ve put a lot of work into making sure the information is presented clearly and not in an overwhelming way, and that the best content is brought forward.

My classical listening and knowledge has flourished over the past year while working on this stuff. I am really looking forward to bringing that work to all of you guys next week.

Keep in mind I’m new to Roon. My question is, if my personal collection of classical music is scattered (from Terry Riley to Hildegard of Bingen) yet animic, how can Roon help me explore the wider world. Does it index Services like Qobuz to fill in its encyclopedia of recordings?

Yes, this all works on content from streaming services. You do not need a classical library of your own to have this experience.

That’s a good question @Jim_Meyer. As things stand I think Room builds the detailed database from your library. That’s what drives focus, suggesting that it’ll be restricted to your library.

The new focus features for 1.8 go beyond your library.

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This is something I am very much looking forward to. Thank you.

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Sweet! Err, I mean Bravo!

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This is good to hear, feels first tingle of anticipation…

This sounds excellent. About 70% of my listening is to albums in the classical genre.

I consider myself an armchair orchestral music expert in that I’ve been vigilant about ballet, orchestral and opera new releases since college via online magazines, forums, label web sites, and some social media. I also read a few books on composers or conductors each year.

During every classical CD rip, I’ve meticulously checked and edited tags against established online database reference sources. I tend to be extra careful and accurate when ripping and tagging large box sets. This practice has served me well because it’s very rare when I import albums/sets that aren’t immediately matched. I also fanatically use Roon’s custom tags which help immensely when looking for specific versions of albums.

So, I just don’t want Roon to make cherished albums tougher to find and consume in trade for discovery.

I am, however, very eager for the discovery in other genres to which I listen.

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As a Roon user since Beta, and a primary Classical listener, I am both hopeful and skeptical that this new experience will help solve longstanding issues with Roon as a library navigator for Classical. I have to say, the bit about “no-name releases” sets off big warning flags for me. As any serious Classical listener knows, the correlation between artist name recognition and performance quality is not necessarily high. If some algorithm buries Bertini’s Mahler in favor of, say, Rattle, it is not doing a service to the music :slight_smile:

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100% agree… let’s wait and see :smiley:

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Hi Jim,
welcome to the roon community. I joined last year also with a focus on classical music. I found out that it is a very good invest to help roon to get each and every CD in your library recognized.
I expect that most of your albums are no problem but there will be some where you need to nudge roon a bit.
Only if roon understands the content of your library and with that I mean roon knows composer and composition of the track, roon will be able to do the magic

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Have you managed to separate extracts of a work from instances of the whole work. For example, under the composition for Bach Matthew Passion, which typically lasts two or more hours, will tiny excerpts lasting a minute still be listed?

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Yes, we have.

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I’m currently re listening to the TTC audio course of this, what’s in the book? Do you know if it’s similar material to the audio course?

From the comments on Amazon, it’s more detailed. I haven’t heard the audio course.

Fair, can highly recommend as it includes music (both performances and him on the piano) and some great anecdotes.

I am really looking forward to Valence and indeed to anything that can improve the search and listening experience for classical music.

While Roon is certainly a great product in many significant ways, I have always found that neither Roon, Tidal or Qobuz have quite understood the fundamentals of classical music very well by only offering pretty elusive approaches to (cataloguing) the music and the listening experience.

I understand that Roon, for ideological reasons, has systematically declined to develop playlists with sublists which would be an overnight HUGE improvement for any serious classical music listener.

Even Spotify (sigh!) has got this right with the ability to create sublists to your playlists, for instance: Classical Music -> Bach -> Keyboard Music -> Glenn Gould.

If you are not only looking to explore new recordings, but also enjoy being able to quickly find your top 5 recordings of the middle quartets by Beethoven, this is a must. With classical recordings, you need to be able to reach out to your passive knowledge about the catalogue, not only the recordings you remember at the top of your head.

Respectfully, Miles Davis and John Coltrane is one thing (I love this music too, and the example in the video was great), and a systematical approach to 1000 recordings of works by Bach is another in terms of complexity.

Or at least it was until this new launch next week. Looking forward to it!

This is the first release where we have really treated classical as its own thing.

Previously, we tried find a framework that fit all kinds of music, and we jammed everything into it. This caused classical to suffer quite a bit, and didn’t serve other genres so well either. We had some very “deep cut” classical features like allowing to sort by composer catalog numbers, but we were missing basics like letting you see your Beethoven albums. It was really in disarray.

In 1.8, we have shifted to treating classical music like its own use case and we’re respecting it directly. This manifests in dozens of small and large ways in the product. Once we gave ourselves permission to build classical-specific features for classical artists, composers, albums, genres, and compositions, it gave us the tools to overcome many of the old problems and also do some interesting new stuff.

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Thanks for this Brian, really looking forward to it.