Violinist offers recording for free online

LONDON Tue Jan 8, 2008 10:15am EST

British violinist Tasmin Little plays an instrument made by renowned violin maker Antonio Stradivari in an undated file photo. Little will give her next recording away for free as a digital download in an attempt to popularise classical music. REUTERS/Ian Waldie

British violinist Tasmin Little plays an instrument made by renowned violin maker Antonio Stradivari in an undated file photo. Little will give her next recording away for free as a digital download in an attempt to popularise classical music.

Credit: Reuters/Ian Waldie

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LONDON (Reuters) - Acclaimed British violinist Tasmin Little will give her next recording away for free as a digital download in an attempt to popularise classical music.

The 42-year-old took inspiration from a headline-grabbing initiative by pop group Radiohead, which last year allowed fans to choose what they wanted to pay online for its latest album "In Rainbows".

"I've done this with no intention of making money, but I feel very strongly that classical music suffers from misperceptions, and someone should be doing something real about it," Little told Reuters.

"I want to make it more accessible without downgrading the product, because you don't need to put a beat to this music to make it work," she added in an apparent reference to popular cross-over acts that blend classical and pop genres.

"Just the fact that people can listen to it on a computer means that hopefully they won't feel a need to have an education or be from a particular background or a certain sector of society."

The album, called "The Naked Violin", will feature three pieces for unaccompanied violin -- Bach's Partita No. 3 in E Major, Luslawice Variations by Paul Patterson and Sonata No. 3 ("Ballade") by Eugene Ysaye.

It will also include commentary from Little and is available on Web site www.tasminlittle.net from Monday.

"These three extremely different pieces of music for violin will show the variety a single violin is able to produce, totally unadorned," Little said.

MUSIC MARKETING UPHEAVAL

The growing popularity of downloading music over the Internet, both legally and illegally, and the decline in physical album sales have led some pop music acts to bypass record labels and abandon traditional marketing models.

Radiohead, without a label, allowed online fans to pay as much as they liked for "In Rainbows", while U.S. singer Prince gave his latest album away for free with a Sunday newspaper in Britain to the dismay of music retailers.

Little said her initiative was not aimed at record labels, with which she continued to record regularly.

"I actually hope that this will have a beneficial effect on record companies," she said. "If someone hears Bach on this record, they may like it and go out and buy a whole album of Bach. It is not necessarily either/or."

In the case of Radiohead, media reports say the majority of fans paid nothing for "In Rainbows" when it was offered online.

But the physical version of the album went straight in at number one in the British album charts on Sunday, suggesting the publicity generated by the initiative paid off.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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