About The Sound Clips

On The Art Of Middle Eastern Dance

This web site uses three different kinds of data files to deliver sound clips to you. In some cases, only one file format is offered to you. In other cases, you might have a choice--usually a choice between RealAudio™ versus a Windows "wav" file. In the cases where you have a choice, how can you decide which to download?

The short answer: RealAudio downloads through your modem much faster, so most web users prefer it for that reason. If you just want to quickly hear a sound and move on, then you've probably read enough of this page!

For the sound files on my web site that contain finger cymbal rhythms, "wav" files have the advantage that you can set them up to automatically repeat, giving you continuous sound you can practice along with. Read on for more details, including the pros and cons of each.

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Table Of Contents

Introduction To MIDI Files

Introduction To "Wav" Files

Advantages Of "Wav" Files

Disadvantages Of "Wav" Files

Introduction To RealAudio Files

Advantages Of RealAudio Files

Disadvantages Of RealAudio Files

Playing Back "Wav" Files On Windows Computers

For Windows 95

For Windows NT 4.0

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Introduction To MIDI Files

For the most part, when you see a MIDI file somewhere on my web site, it will be the only format I offer. I usually won't have "wav" and RealAudio equivalents. So, you won't have to make a choice between MIDI versus something else. It'll just be MIDI.

Chances are, your browser may already have what it needs to play MIDI files for you. If it doesn't, it'll probably take you to a menu giving you the chance to download and install the plug-in for free.

MIDI files, by definition, are music instrumental files. They are created by playing music on an electronic instrument (such as a synthesizer or keyboard) and capturing it into the computer. The musician can first play the music that he wants to sound like violins. Then he can play the music he wants to sound like French horns. Special music editing software can create separate tracks for these separate instruments, and generate the musical notation for an orchestra based on what the composer has played.

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Introduction To "Wav" Files

"Wav files" are so named because on Windows computers they end with the 3-letter extension of "wav". For example, one of the "wav" files on The Art Of Middle Eastern Dance is named Threes.wav.

"Wav" files can be any kind of sound, not just music. They could contain your voice reading a poem you have written. They could contain the sound of a jackhammer outside your window. They could be random bizarre sound effects. While a MIDI file must be created using electronic music equipment, a "wav" file can be created with just a plain old microphone plugged into your computer's sound card. That is how the finger cymbal rhythm "wav" files were created for my web site.

Advantages Of "Wav" Files

  • If you have a PC running some flavor of Windows, then you can probably play "wav" files back with the software you already have installed on your system.
  • With certain sound clips, you might want to play them back in a continuously repeating loop so that you can listen for the underlying rhythm and perhaps even play your finger cymbals along with it. That is possible with the Media Player software that comes with Windows.
  • The sound quality is usually noticeably better on "wav" files than it is on RealAudio. That's because RealAudio uses some compression techniques to make the file size as small as possible when it saves the file, and sacrifices some sound quality in exchange for the smaller file size.

Disadvantages Of "Wav" Files

  • The primary disadvantage of "wav" files is that they are huge in size. That means they'll take much longer to download than RealAudio files, and they'll eat up much more space on your hard disk. Here's one example: I have a stereo sound clip of a karsilama song called Dere.wav which is 1,457 kb in size. It takes about 10 minutes to download it at a modem speed of 28.8 kbps before you can play it back. I also offer it as a RealAudio file, which is only 23 kb in size, and that takes only a few seconds to download.

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About RealAudio™ Files

RealAudio is the name of a technology created by a company called RealNetworks which was designed to optimize delivery of sound files over the Internet. Usually, when someone wants to offer a sound clip in RealAudio, they create it first as a "wav" file. Then, they use special software to convert it to RealAudio.

Advantages Of RealAudio

  • RealAudio was designed with Internet users in mind. It employs a technique known as compression to greatly reduce the size of the sound file. This is a Good Thing because it means the file will download from the web to your computer much faster than the corresponding "wav" file with the same sounds would. It also means that if you want to save the file for future enjoyment, it will take up less room on your hard disk. Note the example above that compares "wav" file download times with RealAudio download times.

Disadvantages Of RealAudio

  • You might have RealAudio already installed on your computer, if you or someone else who shares your computer visited another web site in the past that uses RealAudio for delivering sound. But if your computer has never before played RealAudio sound from the Internet, then you'll have to download and install the free plug-in for your browser before you can play the sound clip. So, the first time you use RealAudio, it's an extra hassle to download and install the plug-in for your browser. It takes a little under 10 minutes to download it at a modem speed of 28.8 kbps if the Internet isn't too congested, and it will want you to shut down your browser before you install it, so you'll want to bookmark the page you were at on the Web before you do all that so you can come back to it later.
  • When I downloaded RealAudio, the slimeball company sold my e-mail address to e-mail advertisers and suddenly I was receiving tons of filthy spam. Their corporate ethics are obviously dirty.
  • So far as I know, you can't auto-repeat RealAudio files in a continuous play loop. If it can be done, I haven't yet discovered how.
  • Sound quality is generally not as good as that of "wav" files. The processing of making the file size as small as possible usually means discarding some sound quality.

Click here if you would like to go to the RealNetworks web site right now and download the free RealAudio Player. They offer two versions: the premium player, which costs money, and the basic player, which is free. But warning: don't give them your normal e-mail address, or you too will find yourself receiving a flood of filthy spam. Instead, set up a temporary e-mail address from one of the free e-mail companies like Yahoo or Hotmail, and use that to register your copy of RealAudio. Once you have your temporary e-mail address, you can go to RealAudio's web site and follow the instructions for installing it on your computer.

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Playing Back "Wav" Files On Windows Computers

When you click on a sound file with your browser, your browser customarily opens its own little window for playing it back. If you don't have any interest in keeping the "wav" file permanently, that's all you need to know and you can skip the rest of this page. But, if you want to keep the "wav" file permanently, and maybe play it on automatic-repeat so you can practice your finger cymbals with it, read on.

Depending on your browser, sometimes you can use the window that opens to play the "wav" file to save it to your hard disk. With the version of Netscape written for Windows 95 and Windows NT, you can click anywhere on the black area of that window with your right mouse button, and it will give you an option to save the file under any name you like on your hard disk for future use. Specify whatever path you like under the save dialogue. Netscape's playback window for "wav" files

However, if you're using Internet Explorer under Windows 95 or Windows NT you'll probably have to dig around on your hard disk to find the "wav" file you want to save, because the playback program it uses doesn't give you an option to save them. (Yet another reason why I prefer Netscape....) After you have played it online, look for your "wav" file in your browser's cache directory (most likely in C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files or C:\WinNT\Temporary Internet Files). Look for files ending with a "wav" extension. When you find them, rename them to something you can easily remember and move them to another directory on your computer--wherever you want to keep them.

I'm not personally familiar with using sound files on other browsers and computer types, so if you have something else you may need to experiment a bit.

For Windows 95

Here is how to use your Windows 95 Media Player to play back "wav" file sound clips once you have saved them in the directory of choice:

  • Click on the Start menu choice at the bottom left of your screen, then pick "Programs" from the menu that pops up.
  • Select the "Accessories" folder from the Programs menu.
  • Find the Media Player icon in the Accessories folder and double click on it. If you don't see it offhand, check whether there is a "Multimedia" folder. If there is, look in there for Media Player.
  • Click on the "File" menu in Media Player, then pick "Open". Use the "Open" dialogue box to find the "wav" file you want to open and choose it.
  • Once the file is open, click on the little icon that is a triangle (matches what appears on most stereo system "play" buttons) to make it play. Click on the icon with a little square to stop playing.
  • If you want to make the sound file loop for continuous play, click on the "Edit" menu choice, then pick "Options". Check the box for "Auto Repeat".

For Windows NT 4.0

If you only want to play the file through a single time, and you don't need to have it automatically repeat for continuous play, then you can use the Windows NT Media Player, following the same instructions as those above for Windows 95. The good thing about this is that it's easy. However, the Windows NT Media Player fails to do automatic repeating properly. That means if you want it to play continuously so you can practice along with it, you'll need to use "AMovie" on your NT computer instead of Media Player. (If you're curious, you're welcome to try putting Media Player in auto-repeat, following the above instructions for Windows 95. But you'll probably find that you don't like what it sounds like!)

One-Time Setup: Creating An Icon For AMovie

First, you need to do the one-time action of putting an icon for AMovie in your Accessories folder. Here's how:

  • Click with the right mouse button on the Start menu at the bottom of your screen, and pick "Open All Users" from the menu that pops up.
  • Select "Programs" from that menu.
  • From the Programs menu, select the choice for "Accessories".
  • Somewhere in the spaces between the icons on the Accessories menu, click with the right mouse button. Pick "New" from the menu that pops up, and then pick "Shortcut" from the top of the menu that comes up after that.
  • On the "Create Shortcut" menu that pops up, click on the "Browse" button.
  • Double-click on the folder that contains your NT operating system files. On most computers, this is called Winnt. Look for a yellow folder that has an arm with a blue sleeve sticking out of it holding it across the bottom.
  • Find the folder named "system32" and double-click on it.
  • Look for a file named "rundll32.exe" and double-click on it. Once you've done this, you should find yourself returned to the "Create Shortcut" window with something that looks like this inside the box titled "Command Line": C:\WINNT\system32\rundll32.exe.
  • Now, position your cursor so that it is immediately after rundll32.exe in that window. Type one blank space. Then, type the following immediately after the blank space: amovie.ocx,RunDll
  • Click the "Next" button at the bottom of the window. This will give you a window inviting you to create a name for your new shortcut. Call it AMovie (or anything else that's easy for you to remember.) Click the "Finish" button.
  • This should return you to your Accessories menu, and you should now see a new icon for AMovie.

Using AMovie To Continuously Play A "Wav" File

Now that you have finished the one-time setup for AMovie, you are ready to use it to put a sound file on continuous playback so you can play your own zills along with it. Here is how to open it when you want to use it:

  • Click on the Start menu with your left mouse button, and select "Programs" from the pop-up menu. Then select "Accessories".
  • Double-click on the icon for AMovie. This will immediately put you into the standard Windows NT "file open" dialogue.
  • Use the "file open" dialogue to find the directory for the "wav" file that you want to play continuously, and open that file.
  • Move your cursor to the gray space below the black window, into an empty space between the clickable controls. See the sample screen for suggested placement of your cursor. Click on the right mouse button.
  • A menu will pop up. Click on the choice for "Properties".
  • Click on the radio button next to the words "Auto Repeat" so that it is enabled. Then click on the OK button.
  • You will return to the window shown in this sample screen. Click on the button in the lower left of the screen with the triangle on it to start playing the "wav" file. When you're tired of hearing it, click on the button with the square in it to stop playback.

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