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Show HN: Discover, Listen and Discuss Classical Music (classicalmusiconly.com)
273 points by ClassicalmOnly 75 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

Hello HN! I am really excited to show you Classical Music Only, a social website dedicate to discover, listen and discuss classical music. I actually tried to do a "show HN" thread 6 months ago when the first alpha release was published but somehow the link was dead and nobody saw it except me:D. Now the website is in beta phase and has become much more mature since first published. The website has many features that you can be interested in, among them:

    * Create classical music lists, listen to them and share them to the whole world
    * Ask for work recommendations and let the community answers you by adding and voting for classical works that are relevant to your question
    * Discover new works through personalized recommendations on your homepage, using the categorized basic lists filtered by periods, composers and genres or using community list
    * Open discussion and start debates about your favorite composers and works
    * Review classical works, read others' reviews
    * Discover the most favorited recordings for any classical work. Add your favorite recordings
    * Follow your friends and favorite users to see their posts on your homepage
    * See latest posts (discussions, reviews, recordings) of your followed composers on your customized homepage feed
    * Share stories, blogs and news about anything related to classical music
    * Listen to top works filtered by period, genre or composer. If you're bored, you can listen to a random masterpiece using a magic button on your homepage!
I am really excited to read your feedbacks and happy to answer any question.

Love to see this! As a classical music fan, I'm frustrated by how difficult it is to find good quality music online.

Here's a couple of ideas how to improve the tool:

* Links to Spotify, Deezer, et al. would be great (I particularly care about Deezer, because they offer(ed) the most comprehensive selection of classical music).

* I'm missing interprets. Search for "Karajan" yields nothing, yet Karajan is a super important figure in classical music. The same for the orchestras, string quartets, etc.

* Some people care about record labels, too. For example, I'd like to search specifically for DG, Decca and similar.

* I understand that the world of classical music is enormous and you'll never get all music. Improving the library will be an ongoing challenge. For example, there is Dvorak's Piano Quintet no. 2, but no. 1 is not present.

* I'm not sure I understand the UI. What belongs to the purple are at the top and what belongs to the white area below?

I might come up with more ideas later.

Hope this does not sound derisive, my points are just suggestions about how to take the tool further. It's fantastic that someone is working on this! Fingers crossed and keep up the great job!

Thank you! I am really glad you like it

> Links to Spotify, Deezer, et al

I am planning to do that. However, Youtube will remain the default. I guess that Spotify has some limitiations (must be loggenot in, limitations outside the US, I doubt that many obscure works have recordings)

> missing interprets. Search for "Karajan" yields nothing The search currently works for composers only. But it will expanded soon to musicians so you can see all recordings of a certain musician.

> Some people care about record labels, too. For example, I'd like to search specifically for DG, Decca and similar

This also shall be ready so you can filter recordings also by label. This is really a priority on my todo list

> I'm not sure I understand the UI. What belongs to the purple are at the top and what belongs to the white area below?

You mean inside composer/ work pages? The first one contains main info about the composer/work and some quick links to listen (top composer works - top genre works)/see work lists

> Hope this does not sound derisive, my points are just suggestions about how to take the tool further. It's fantastic that someone is working on this! Fingers crossed and keep up the great job!

Not at all, that's what Show HN is for! I am really happy that you like it

> “Karajan” Karajan is a conductor. Will conductors get looped in as well? Or will they be considered “Performers” as well?

Yes, conductors and any kind of musicians will have a unified performer page or at least tag page that containes all their recordings. Since conductors can be players at some performances. Also soloists can be conductors which happens frequently for classical era concertos.

The Spotify classical catalogue is pretty deep. Also it is very much international - it being a Swedish company.

Adding to the comment about links to other services, I'm a big fan of Classical Archives as well, so links to their content would be great. Subscription is about $100/year and they have a huge amount of stuff.


> Links to Spotify, Deezer, et al. would be great (I particularly care about Deezer, because they offer(ed) the most comprehensive selection of classical music).

Does Deezer support gapless (not cross-faded) playback? Because as far as I can tell, most of the streaming services miss the mark dramatically here. It’s definitely most painful when listening to classical music to have what should have been a seemless transition from one movement to the next have a jarring stop.

It doesn't and you are right that it's sometimes uncomfortable and jarring. TBH it doesn't seem to me like the biggest problem, though. It could be the music I listen to the most, but the movements or parts are usually separated by silence anyway.

I do not know about deeper but Spotify offers gapless playback. One can listen a symphony without interrupts.

The problem with spotify is that i cannot search by label. I am new to classical music and sticking to a quality label helps a lot.

OT but:

Regarding searching for labels, you can actually do that: https://news.spotify.com/se/2009/05/20/spotify-0315-with-lab...

It’s just a bit cumbersome, and not so easy to find the exact name of the label stored in the database. I think you can use the API to find the (exact) name of the label assigned for a particular song.

I did not know about this functionality, thanks for pointing out.

BTW: does anyone know anything about blog.explodingads.com, it seems to be reposting HN comments and then using the comments to comment on other sites.

I saw the reference on the link you mentioned.

Classical music suffers from a glut of metadata upon which true fans rely. It's not enough to specify composer or piece. Classical music lovers will search for conductor, soloist, orchestra, or even a specific recording made by some orchestra in some year. See some discussion here [1]. If you can address a fraction of these, you will be way ahead of streaming services like spotify, etc.

Other than that, the site looks great!

[1] https://www.dailyrindblog.com/classical-music-metadata-101/

Thank you for adding this important point, this is a high priority on my todo list. We have already a basic database of major performers (conductors, soloists, etc...), we just need more computing resources so users can find recordings based filtered by performer. If you've got extra dollar you don't need, consider donating so you can help us with experimenting with features such as this one. But this is a top priority anyway. Thanks again for your feedback!

To add one more discussion of classical metadata, see this from NPR:


Yeah, this. I would totally pay for a high-nitrate, classical-only streaming service that would let you do as you describe, and also things like shuffle by groups, and foreign-language-aware voice search. All the available services are nearly unusable for classical.

Pretty long and off-topic shot, but would you (or anyone else) happen to know this piece? We've been looking for a name for years:


On-topic, how can I listen to a performance? I clicked through to a few lists but haven't found any buttons to do that on the site.

Have you tried writing down the Parsons Code [1] for the melody and searching against a large corpus? E.g., https://www.musipedia.org/melodic_contour.html

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsons_code

That's interesting, I'll do that now, thanks!

EDIT: Not much luck :/

If you can produce a MIDI encoding of this piece, I can run it through a classifier trained on a large dataset of classical composers, and identify most similar pieces.

Alternatively, you can ask someone who trains deep learning models on audio files, and has a large classical dataset.

The person who transcribed it was kind enough to send it to me, I'd be grateful if you could search for it: http://mormolyke.com/stuff/brewsters.mid

Ok, I will email you when I run it.

Hmm, I have the sheet music that someone transcribed, and an MP3 of the midi, but not the midi itself, and I don't know how to produce one :/ I will try to ask them for the midi and get back to you, thank you.

It sounds like a Dvorak or Martinu trio or quartet. I'll look into it today. Brings up a pet peve for musicians-- why aren't musicians often credited in other media that uses their work? Sheesh!

Indeed, that's my peeve as well. This work wasn't credited anywhere in the credits, we even contacted movie staff and they didn't know. We contacted the cellist in the scene, and he said it was some random score he had with him, but he didn't have his old notes with him and couldn't find the piece in storage.

wait... you contacted the cellist???? wow, ok. I'm impressed with your research! Who was the cellist? That might help me. If it was something he had with him, it was more likely for a gig or a student. I did a quick check of all Dvorak Quartets- but didn't hit upon the passage. I chose Dvorak because of the pre-copland what would become the American vibe. Don't you think? The reason I don't think it's by Ry Cooder is because not in his composing purview- also not by a film composer there probably because would not want to be caught bringing in something from another gig, no? I'm sticking w Dvorak for the moment- I must have just missed the passage- major key at least...

It was Marston Smith: http://lordofthecello.com/

It's definitely not by Ry Cooder, we contacted him and he said he hadn't composed it. It sounds a lot like Glazunov, too:


Ok! I put the clip out to my many professional musician friends, and we discussed it. Everyone agrees that it's probably a clip from a Dvorak imitating composer or a wedding gig book. None of us has played it. Everyone was stumped. We all thought it sounded like a cross between the Glazunov you mentioned and Dvorak. Since your cellist plays a ton of weddings and parties (from his website) I'm going to guess it is from a gig book. If it were an actual Dvorak or Glazunov, he'd remember it, or at least one of my string playing friend would recognize it. Shoot- I really thought we were going to solve this for you. Oh well- I guess you should dig into some Dvorak. I can recommend Goldmark- he wrote some beautiful quartets and work in film scoring in Hollywood for a long time. I think you'd love his string pieces. Cheerio!

Thank you, I'll look into Goldmark! I didn't even know there existed "gig books", I thought they were just playing pieces by well-known composers. Thanks again!

Glazunov is an excellent guess! I remember playing a student quartet by him when I was a student, and it totally had that modal parallel melodic/harmonic movement in 4ths and 5ths. It is so Dvorak though, minus his noodly viola jamz under the melody. Hint of Ravel, but not French enough- maybe Chopin too. Will be thinking on it this week. I'd like to hear the whole piece too now!Update: I just watched the first few seconds of your clip- and that is the exact piece I played as a student that reminded me of it as I mentioned above. Listening now.

I'm now thinking early Shostakovitch-ish. Very "inside" for him though. Why do you want to know? You could probably transcribe the passage... but if you like it, you know who else you'd like too now. ?

A few people and I are just looking for the piece because we like the excerpt and want to listen to the full piece.

Entirely possible that this isn't a piece at all. Sounds like it might be just a random toss-off $5 job by a hired hand.

Try r/classicalmusic and mention the reward. Lots of students and professionals there.

Already did, no dice :/

Hmm. Maybe try to contact someone at KUSC, the Los Angeles classical station. Particularly someone like Jim Svejda, who knows classical and film soundtracks inside and out. Maybe donate the reward to the station if they can id it. :-)

I love it! Such an awesome site. I like to listen to Classical playlists curated on Spotify because I don't want to go out and look for specific composers, etc. It would be cool to have something like that, where there's a main-stream/playlist that I can play whenever I log in without having to search for composer name, etc. Also, definitely integrate Spotify and SoundCloud if you can!

Awesome site! Really like how it's build, how it works, etc. Any chance you'd do an explainer on how you built it, why you built it, etc? Sort of how indie hackers handles these things? I'd love to learn more.

Thank you! I was planning to mention some technical details but I totally forgot! The website mainly uses Vue.js for frontend (which was a total pleasant experience for a somewhat not small project (12,000+ vue LOC)) and Python (Django) + Golang for backend. I really want to share my experience with the vue community. I was more than satisfied dealing with it on a daily basis.

OK great. And then is that Semantic UI?

Yes! Semantic UI is used but not fully, only a few but imortant css components like grid, container, input and separator. There's also some old jQuery dependency but is about to be removed since only the Ajax methods are used so it's irrelevant to use jQuery just for that.

I really LOVE your website. However, as a programmer, I listen to Classical during a) coding b) driving ; and for both of these activities, I already use CPR ( Colorado Public Radio)'s classical stream and it works great. So to me, I'd not use your website as much because I already have CPR. My two cents would be to do some market/consumer research to see if there are users who would use all the fantastic features above.

Another suggestion: Add a "live" filter to show live recordings.

I have a year and half old kid and while we generally don't watch TV, one exception is watching concerts. After we have exploited the "easy" tracks on YouTube like searching for "Wiener Philharmoniker" or "Berliner Philharmoniker", finding more decent quality live concerts is a huge challenge.

On the page that asked me to star specific works, it only asked a few standard ones, and didn't include works from most of the composers that I had starred on the previous page.

It is very refreshing to see a website dedicated to classical music! Have you considered integrating with last.fm? At the very least scrobbling the listen history would be nice, but more advanced integration could be interesting to: synchronizing tags, etc.

This is great and really classic! Many of the artists I never knew you interface is as easy as wikipedia. I really like it. Good luck!!

Best part is I can play listen without registering - which is what most people like. :-)

Well that seems to mostly be because it just seems like a website to categorize and discuss already uploaded youtube clips of music.

Hello galobtter! please have a second look at the website. Listening using YouTube is not the main feature of this website. It's just a tool that you can listen to some work without doing effort searching for it. You can also use it do listen to lists created by you, or others. Also you can listen to top works filtered by category, period, century or composer using it. However, the website is intended to be more of a social website so that you can discover new works, ask for recommendations, find top recordings for some work, discuss and review classical works

Congratulations! I am not able to access the site, it is blocked because of 'Secure Connection Failed' in Firefox 57.0.1.

Same version of Firefox here, and no problem. Site uses valid Let'sEncrypt certificate.

How so? I am sure that the certificate is valid until next February. Do you have any issues with Let's Encrypt?

Hey, just a quick note,

I'd personally enjoy a big fat action button on the landing page that just says "Play" (just like the "i'm feeling lucky" button on the "TV" page). I know you have higher ambitions with the site (social, etc), but, anecdotally, i'm studying for exams right now and don't really have the motivation to parse all that text and creating a new user, but you could've easily had me listening for an hour if the content was easily, immediately accessible. good luck!

EDIT: Who am I kidding, I'm procrastinating so I might as well procrastinate right: It would be nice if the linked videos used youtubes timecode function, to skip intros. It was a bit jarring to hear the presenter in this video, for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=69&v=IInG5nY_wrU

This is why I love Youtube live channels. They just play a constant stream of music without having to sign up or do anything else complicated.

What are your favorite YouTube live channels?

Not OP, but I'm personally a fan of chill-hop stations, such as Lo-fi Hiphop Radio 24/7. This kind of music lends itself to studying and working, as it has very little lyrical content. Find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQBh9soLSkI

Registration is not necessary, you can just press on the "i'm feeling lucky" button and get some major/important work randomly. However, when you are logged in, you will be able to get recommendations based on your starred works and followed composers.

Where's this "I'm feeling lucky" button? I definitely don't see it at all on the home page. I've even tried an in-browser search for "lucky".

EDIT: You have to click "TV" first. Which was confusing, since I was looking for music and thinking TV referred to watching actual TV.

Coming from someone who's not very familiar with classical music and who signed up to start getting into it...

Why am I forced to 'star' 5 composers and 5 works upon registration? I recognized a most of the top ~10 composers but I'm sure most people will just click the top 5 and move on which really defeats the purpose doesn't it?

And then once I'm at the homepage, I don't immediately see where I can review / change my stars.

Hi timmonsjg, the welcome page has 2 main purposes:

1. you see posts on your homepage feed of composers you followed (of course you can see all other posts without leacving the feed but only posts related to your followed composers are loaded by default)

2. Get work recommendations based on your followed composers and starred works.

You are right that it sucks if you know little about classical music. A skip button will be added soon.

A short optional sample of every composers and songs would be nice, just to get an idea of the music. I can't remember music in my head (kind of Aphantasia for music), so it's really hard for me to choose just from the list.

This is a great idea tbh, most people actually know far more classical music than they think they do - but they couldn't tell you the name of a piece or its composer for the life of them.

you could at least populate the list of works from the composers we chose on the first screen.

i didn't pick any of the top 5 composers, and yet the works were largely from them. the 3 composers i was actually interested in don't appear anywhere on the list of works i get to choose from. :(

At a quick glance, a few remarks about the onboarding :

- the "I'm feeling lucky" button you mention in the comments here (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15861489) is nowhere to be found, maybe not on the home page ? I did a ctrl-F to be sure but nothing.

- You ask me to choose 5 of my favorites composers, but you only show me the top N most popular ones ... it feels very rude, you basically ask me to lie, imagine if on a regular music site I could only like something in the current top 40. Also consider that the probability that the 5 favorites composers of a given person are all in the top 40 is very low. I feel like presenting them that way is only going to make the most popular artificially even more popular which I don't think is something that you want.

- It seems even worse for the "favorite pieces" list. The probability that a person's favorite pieces are all in the top N you selected is very very low. The majority of the pieces in that list were composed by composers I didn't choose just before.

- The Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni) was in the list 4 times, and The Rite Of Spring twice, as well as Chopin's Nocturnes (which is several pieces, by the way).

Apart from that I like the high-density layout, a welcome departure from the usual sites composed mostly of empty space.

Hi ajnin, thanks for the thorough feedback

> - the "I'm feeling lucky" button you mention in the comments here (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15861489) is nowhere to be found, maybe not on the home page ? I did a ctrl-F to be sure but nothing.

It's on the TV page https://classicalmusiconly.com/tv

> You ask me to choose 5 of my favorites composers, but you only show me the top N most popular ones

> The Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni) was in the list 4 times, and The Rite Of Spring twice, as well as Chopin's Nocturnes (which is several pieces, by the way).

These 2 points are totally valid and I am aware of them. These 2 points are connected to each other due to some technical difficulty (or maybe a bug?) in Django. We had difficulty to get unique random set of filtered items. That's why you see probably some duplicate items. Other users may have not experieced it because it happens randomly. That's why we ordered composers by some other metric. However, you can follow/unfollow any composer at anytime later inside their profile pages or on the TV page while listening a work by that composer.

> It seems even worse for the "favorite pieces" list. The probability that a person's favorite pieces are all in the top N you selected is very very low. The majority of the pieces in that list were composed by composers I didn't choose just before.

Because The starring stage doesn't depend on the followed composers' stage. It's rational because you may want to star works within a bigger set of items and not be bound by followed composers only.

Just tried to find two "modern" composers: Vasks and Gulda. You have neither.

Peteris Vasks [0] is "now is one of the most influential and praised European contemporary composers."

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%93teris_Vasks

Thanks jdemler for reporting, you can also add composer requests in the website itself at https://classicalmusiconly.com/request/composers

I will add all pending requests before the weekend

This seems mostly like a social site for discussing/reviewing classical music + a fancy way to categorize youtube clips. The recommendations doesn't seem that useful as I've already listened to many of the pieces, and youtube provides recommendations which are pretty useful

> The recommendations doesn't seem that useful as I've already listened to many of the pieces

Good for you! Currently there are some 500 works that are marked as "masterpieces". Not necesarrily all of them are Mass in B minor or Mozart's requiem tier. You may be surprised that you can discover some great work you didn't know about using this button. I am currently planning to add some filters so you can get a random work from a filtered set (Genre, period, century, composers' country). Of course, it will be improved as more works are added. But for now, it works totally random from a filtered set of works that are marked as masterpieces.

Haha I just clicked the random button for masterpiece and it gave me Mozart's Requiem. I was looking at the recommendations based on the pieces I chose anyhow. I personally like to listen to various pretty obscure pieces by composers I like (dvorak's symphonies 1-4), and don't really go by genre, period etc. Maybe others will find it useful

Slightly off-topic, but is there a resource that collects the music cited in Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher, Bach"?

I've never been good at reading music notation, so those sections of the book (which I need to re-read sometime soon) are glossed over, and I feel I'm missing out.

It is such a shame that _Adventures in Good Music_ is no longer syndicated on the radio.


Just tangetial : if you don't know anything about classical but would love to learn a lot, then Colorado Public Radio does a fantastic job.

Listen for yourself: http://www.cpr.org/classical

Very good. The only missing feature would be a way to be able to navigate with the music still playing. Perhaps a simple "open in popup" like a lot of radio website used to do would work fine. Ideally having the website as a single-page-app.

Hey, awesome project! I'm a huge fan of classical music and can definitely see myself using this. I'm going to share it with my dad who's also a big classical aficionado.

Anyway, my question may get lost, as this post really blew up, but here it is. I'm launching a project I've been working on soon-ish, and I'm wondering: what steps did you take to gain traction? My project is somewhat socially-oriented like yours (i.e. there's no paid product), so I'm wondering if you can share any insight into how to get it out there and get high-qualify contributors.

Thanks, and again, awesome job :)

Thank you for this awesome feedback! I didn't take any special steps. I just made a show HN thread and frankly I didn't expect to be that successful since most successful threads I saw were SaaS or other technical projects. I am truly indebted to HN and the community for featuring the thread. I also submitted it on ProductHunt but it failed miserably :D

Thanks again and good luck with your project.

I like to listen to random classical music, but I know nothing about composer and songs. This means, that quiz at the beginning to know my preference, should there not be a way to skip it for users like me?

I know this is a wall of questions, but I'm really impressed with your accomplishment. I'm interested in the origins of the site, how you chose the tech stack, any scaling issues you might have, how you create the content on YouTube, how you are handling cost, etc. I've been wanting to create something similar for a different domain and worry about scaling and costs. Have you written about any of this anywhere? Thanks for any answers, and good luck!

Thank you! I hope you really enjoy it. The main stack is Vue for frontend and Python/Django + Golang for backend. I might share my pleasant experience in the future with vue enthusiasts since I became one myself!

Was disappointed to see it was based around YouTube clips, however, a wonderfully great idea.

Listening using YouTube is just one feature among many other features like creating lists, asking for recommendations, discovering top recordings for any work, discover top works ranked by users' stars and filtered by genre, period, composer or century. It's intended more to be a social website than something like Spotify for classical music so you can discover new works, review and discuss classical music.

Does it play commercials after every N songs?

That's weird, I will look into the logs and see what can be done. Thanks Raphmedia for reporting.

Using create by email gives me (in chrome network console) "account already exists" and trying to log with that account sends a call which is never answered. Perhaps it's the HN hug messing your website up...

You cannot create a new user by email currently. This is for already registered users who want to login only using their emails because they forgot the password or username or don't want to type them.

What about this here :


Yes, this is the old way if you want to: (username + password + email), do you have a problem registering with this method also?

Yes. I get {message: "account already exists"} but when I try to connect with that account, I only get an error 400.

Is it possible to listen to classical music on your site without registration ?

Yes. You might want to register to get work recommendations based on your taste from your followed composers and starred works.

Cool someone cares about the special needs of the fan of classical music! There is another cool site, too: www.idagio.com . It is a Spotify for Classical music.

How do users pay for their use of this site? Are the free users loss leaders for the premium subscriptions, or is the user's data monetized?

The website is totally free. There is no premium subscriptions. Users data are not monetized. If you want to support the project, you may donate using Patreon or bitcoin.

I would just like to say that I appreciate that you're doing this purely with donations as the income stream. I really dig the social aspect, and more people discovering the joy of classical music is always a good thing. Cheers!

After you sign up you're forced to pick favorites... I don't have any because I don't any.

What's the point of following a dead composer? As if they were going to compose new work...

Hi benob, following composers serves for 2 main purposes:

1. you get posts on your homepage feed of composers you followed (you can also see other posts on your feed but the default is filtered by your followed composers)

2. Discover work recommendations based on your followed composers and starred works

New performances might show up, maybe

Not all classical composers are dead you know.

Does the web application provide APIs for searching certain work based on tags etc?

Great idea, will keep looking in on it for content. Thanks OP!

are all the entries linking only to youtube videos?

Currently yes. But if there's enough interest. I shall start working on compiling Spotify albums. YouTube will remain the default option though since it's open and doesn't require registration.

As far as I can see yes - which is what I was wondering, because it seems like a fancy way to categorize youtube clips and I already have a playlist of classical music videos in youtube.

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