Roon Partner Update: July 2021

We kicked off summer with an impressive array of 17 new Roon Ready and Roon Tested devices from audio heavyweights Arcam, Astell&Kern, Bluesound, JBL, Rotel and more… read all about them in our latest partner update below. For a full list of our partner brands and every Roon Ready and Roon Tested device, visit our Partners page on the Roon website.

Aavik 
Roon Ready

Joining the Roon family in June, Aavik are a Danish high-end audio brand who develop and manufacture amplifiers, digital-to-analogue converters, streamers and phono stages. You can now enjoy Roon Ready built-in on the S-180, S-280 and S-580 audio streamers.

Arcam ST60
Roon Ready

The ST60 is Arcam’s first ever dedicated hi-resolution audio streamer. Loaded with an abundance of features such as MQA, analog and digital outputs, and now Roon Ready, it is hugely versatile whilst being simple and straightforward to operate.

Astell&Kern KANN ALPHA
Roon Ready

Joining our family of Roon Ready audio partners in March of this year, Astell&Kern is a global leader in portable digital audio players. The KANN ALPHA is the fourth device to become Roon Ready, providing an ultra high power output to drive any headphone so you can enjoy a near-perfect sound experience wherever you are.

AVM
Roon Ready

AVM have been developing and manufacturing audio devices since 1986, making every device by hand in their factory in Southern Germany and is a new addition to the Roon Ready program. 

The OVATION CS 6.3 and OVATION CS 8.3 integrated amplifiers and OVATION MP 6.3 and OVATION MP 8.3 Media Players have all been certified as Roon Ready.

Bluesound Soundbar+
Roon Ready

The Bluesound Soundbar+ was designed specifically to deliver the highest quality sound through its quad-core processor and 120 watts of powerful sound with deep bass and rich detail. Designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing TV set-up, this audiophile-grade soundbar fulfills all of your home entertainment needs with added Roon Ready functionality. 

ELAC Discovery Connect Pro
Roon Ready

The Discovery Connect Pro is a Roon Ready multi-room streamer featuring a total of 8 playback zones. It has  built-in 192kHz 24-Bit audio DACs for each of its six analogue outputs to pair with its two digital outputs. 

JBL SA750
Roon Ready

In honor of JBL’s 75th anniversary, the JBL SA750 is a modern-retro Class G amplifier with streaming capabilities. Inspired by the classic JBL SA600 amplifier from the 1960’s, the SA750 combines mid-century styling with 21st century high-resolution streaming including Roon Ready built-in. 

Rotel RC-1590 MKII and RC-1572 MKII
Roon Tested

The RC-1590 MKII and RC-1572 MKII stereo preamplifiers are now Roon Tested. Both devices feature MQA support and multiple acoustic upgrades and refinements bringing an even higher level of performance and stunning clarity with a natural, enveloping sound stage. 

T+A Elektroakustik HA-200
Roon Tested

The HA 200 is T+A’s first dedicated headphone amplifier and features high-performance output stages that can drive even the most difficult of headphones.

Waversa WBridge and WNode S1
Roon Ready

The Waversa WBridge is a flexible digital bridge featuring WAP (Waversa Audio Processor) DSP and high-resolution playback. Connections include LAN, USB, Optical, Coaxial, AES/EBU and HDMI.

The WNode S1 is an all-in-one speaker system made out of a totally unique all aluminum chassis, that boasts a range of features including Roon Ready.

The Roon ecosystem is growing faster than ever

From our humble beginnings – the debut of the first Roon Ready network streamer (Auralic Aries) at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2016 – the ecosystem of products compatible with Roon is now the largest collection of high-resolution audio devices in the world.

Roon is compatible with over a thousand individual products from nearly 200 brands, including premium audio heavyweights like Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Devialet, Harman, KEF, McIntosh, and Naim Audio, and also a wide range of manufacturers of smart devices and DIY products. Thanks in part to that focus on interoperability, Roon has become an essential component in the listening rooms of recording artists, producers, record labels, music collectors, and audiophiles.

The cadence of new Roon Ready certifications has increased tenfold since 2019. Back then, just a handful of new products were certified each month, but in the first half of this year we’ve already announced over 100 new Roon Ready and Roon Tested devices. Forty new brands have submitted products for certification in that time, including key product ranges and new launches from notable audio manufacturers like Arcam, Astell & Kern, Cambridge Audio, and JBL.

We set out to create an ecosystem with something for every use case covering a wide range of prices, form factors, functions, and features. Now, Roon really does play with everything – audio products as varied as network streamers, soundbars, DACs, wireless speakers, all-in-one systems, and A/V receivers – at prices ranging from $100 to $100,000. With support for high-resolution PCM, DSD, MQA, and extensive DSP, Roon offers the highest possible audio performance at any price.

Recent announcements about lossless and high-resolution streaming from Apple Music and others have kindled new interest in high-quality audio. For listeners who want to go beyond their mobile phone with Bluetooth headphones, Roon provides the largest and highest-performance ecosystem for listening to high-resolution music on the widest range of audio equipment.

In addition to Roon Ready products, there are hundreds of Roon Tested products that bring the Roon experience to the rest of your home. Support for Sonos, AirPlay, and Google Cast streaming devices – as well as USB and HDMI receivers and DACs – means that Roon helps you get the best performance out of virtually any audio device.

To see the full list of Roon partners and certified products, check out roonlabs.com/partners


Roon 1.8 Summer Release

Our aim has always been to make it as simple as possible for you to find the music you love and play it on all of your audio gear. That’s why in our summer release, we’ve pushed the boundaries of Valence even further to improve how you search and discover music in Roon. Valence combines the expertise of our community with modern data science and machine learning to deliver a music player that understands your listening preferences like no other.

In the latest update to Roon 1.8, we’ve implemented some exciting new features, including personalized daily mixes, intelligent search, and a totally new TIDAL interface to improve the way you discover and listen to music in Roon.

Your Daily Mixes

Some days you want a little extra inspiration in the morning. For TIDAL and Qobuz users, every day Roon will deliver you six new Daily Mixes designed to give you something new to explore. Each playlist is themed on an artist from your listening history and includes 25 picks from artists you love and some you have yet to discover.

Created using a completely new Valence algorithm, the genres and artists in your playlists will change daily but you can expect a wide variety of music that reflects your library, listening habits, and what you’ve been playing lately.

To make it easy to find music to suit your mood, we’ve named each mix after a “headliner” artist featuring music from them and similar artists and genres we think you’ll find interesting. 

Find a playlist you enjoy? Save it so you can listen to it later. 

Evolving search

Over the last year, we’ve doubled the Roon team to over 50 people across five continents, which allows us to be more ambitious in the scope and number of engineering projects running in parallel. One great example is search, which is now being improved on an ongoing basis by our data team. This release features the first of many planned search developments: an improved user interface with predictive auto-complete.

Previously, when typing a search, Roon would auto-complete using only words from your library, but now it matches people and music across all known artists, albums, tracks, genres, composers, and compositions. 

Valence plays a big part in helping Roon make the right suggestions to you – predicting what you’re looking for as it’s being typed – whether the music is in your library or not. By clicking on any of the recommendations, you’ll get taken directly to what you are looking for, making it easier and faster to get to the music you want to play. 

Your core now preserves your search history with your profile, so it’s easy to get back to the music you were looking for, even if it’s on a different day or device. 

All-new TIDAL experience

We’ve worked closely with our friends at TIDAL to design a completely new TIDAL experience in Roon. The page has been redesigned to include many of TIDAL’s latest features and content, including top charts, TIDAL staff picks and latest MQA playlists and more. As well as all of this, TIDAL’s popular “Mixes for you” feature is now available for you to enjoy in Roon!

We hope you enjoy the new update and look forward to hearing what you think. For more information on the new release, head over to our Community

Our First Playlists

Celeste

Our team is obsessive about creating the best experiences for people who love music and sound, and our goal has always been to bring more music into peoples’ lives. Over the last year, most of us will have spent more time than ever at home, using music to manage everything from mood to childcare. As self-proclaimed music fanatics with a broad range of musical interests, we wanted to start sharing some of our favorite music with our community of music lovers, in partnership with our streaming partners TIDAL and Qobuz.

We started with our mixed-genre playlist Roon Recent for Qobuz, featuring recent contemporary favorites. The playlist begins with genre-bending jazz from multi-Grammy Award-winning Robert Glasper ft. H.E.R., London-based musical collective Nubyian-Twist, and musical marvel Terrace Martin. We move onto the soulful voices of Kandace Springs, Lianne La Havas, Celeste, and Baby Rose. The tone changes with the iconic Norah Jones and Melody Gardot, Norwegian singers Ane Brun and Astrid S, and singer-songwriters St. Vincent and Brandy Clark. The mood takes another turn ending with Australian blues rock band The Teskey Brothers, Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, and The War on Drugs.

Joy Denalane

Our next mixed-genre playlist Roon Repeat on TIDAL features tracks our team had on repeat. We begin with acclaimed jazz pianist Brad Mehldau’s expansive Born to Trouble from Grammy Award-winning album Finding Gabriel. Jazz-crossover features heavily with Thundercat, Terrace Martin ft. Ric Wilson, Steam Down ft. Afronaut Zu, Kassa Overall and Jazzmeia Horn. We feature classical-crossover from string trio Time for Three, and Daniel Hope ft. soul singer Joy Denalane on This Bitter Earth / On the Nature of Daylight – a Clyde Otis / Max Richter mash-up. Vocal highlights include singer-songwriters Sarah Jarousz, AURORA, Tunisian singer Emel, and Finish singer Joose Keskitalo.

Igor Levit

Next is a classical playlist Roon Relax for Qobuz. We begin with Mozart from renowned pianist Fazil Say, moving onto Igor Levit’s Busoni: Chorale Preludes (10) after JS Bach – No. 5, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639, a rarely played arrangement of a Bach Chorale. More beautiful Bach appears from Christian Tetzlaff and Fretwork. Tetzlaff’s articulate performance of Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio comes from J.S. Bach Sonatas & Partitas, his third recording of these solo violin works. Viol-consort Fretwork’s Contrapunctus 1 follows from their faithful arrangement of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080. After instrumental works from Chopin, Beethoven and Scarlatti, we move from a contemporary lute and violin duet from Thomas Dunford (lute) and Theotime Langlois de Swarte (violin) onto Jonas Nordberg performing Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger on the theorbo, a baroque lute. We then move from Lieder with Matthias Goerne’s hauntingly beautiful Litanei from Schubert: Wanderer’s Nachtlied and Schumann: Dichterliebe from Mark Padmore onto Dowland from Anthony Rooley, and Emma Kirkby’s O Let Me Weep, from Purcell: The Fairy Queen. We continue in the Baroque era with excerpts from J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243 (Emmanuelle Haïm) and Bach: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 (Suzuki). We end with sacred works from Thomas Tallis (Stile Antico), and Renaissance composers Alonso Lobo (Tenebrae) and Josquin Des Prez (Gabrieli Consort).

Moses Boyd

Next in our Qobuz series is Roon Rhythm, a playlist of contemporary jazz favourites. We open with Our Spanish Love Song, a duet from bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny, from their magnificent album Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories). We move onto another duet, Save Your Love for Me, from trumpeter Till Brönner and pianist Bob James. Vocal highlights include Veronica Swift, René Marie and Diana Krall. London-based semi-free duo Binker & Moses, made up of saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd, feature with their energetic Fete by the River. Moses Boyd features again with Stranger than Fiction. Also from London’s brimming jazz scene are jazz-fusion keyboardist Kamaal Williams and vocalist Zara McFarlane. Los Angeles-based saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s Change of the Guard is another genre-defying highlight. We end the playlist with the multiple Grammy Award-winning American quasi-collective Snarky Puppy, with Whitecap from their iconic album Tell Your Friends.

Víkingur Ólafsson

Next is Relaxing Classics – TIDAL Masters for TIDAL, a classical playlist in Master Quality – MQA. We open with Schuman, J.S. Bach and Chopin from pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Víkingur Ólafsson, and Josep Colom. Violin highlights come from Ana María Valderrama (Brahms), Hilary Hahn (Bach), and Daniel Hope (Kreisler). Two duos stand out with Avi Avital and Alon Sariel’s Vivaldi: Double Mandolin Concerto, for 2 mandolins, RV 532, and Duo Animacorde’s Paganini: Sonata Concertata, MS 2 for violin and guitar. We include beautiful chamber music from Quatuor Ébène (Beethoven) and Emery String Quartet (Fauré), and lute and guitar concertos from Christopher Parkening (Vivaldi) and Thibaut Garcia (Aranjuez). Tenor Christoph Prégardien performs the ruminative Der Lindenbaum from Schubert: Winterreise, followed by Beethoven from baritone Matthias Goerne and Dowland from countertenor Phillipe Jaroussky. We end with two choral works, Palestrina from The Hilliard Ensemble and Ólafur Arnalds from Voces8. 

Sarah works on music editorial and research as part of Roon’s Music Team.

What is Roon?

People often ask us if Roon is like a streaming service. Or a download library. Or even a new type of audio editing software. But our technology is something entirely different. Roon is the ultimate music player, designed for people who live and breathe music and sound. Roon gets you listening to the songs you love, helps you find new music that’s tailored to your ear, and gives you the best sound quality from your audio equipment.

To see what Roon can do for your music collection, why not get a free 14-day trial?

Introducing TIDAL Magazine

Willie Nelson

We’d love to share some recent articles we’ve enjoyed from our friends and partners at TIDAL. Discover a rich catalogue of essays, features and in-depth interviews on TIDAL Magazine, which features original articles from a wide variety of music journalists, perfect for the curious music lover. Here are some of our recent favorites.

The Doors’ ‘L.A. Woman’ at 50, and More: Robby Krieger in Conversation by Ryan Reed

The guitar legend on the band’s final LP before Jim Morrison’s passing, his fusion-focused solo work and that time Zappa wanted to produce the Doors. 

A Portrait of the Guitarist: Richard Thompson in Conversation by Jim Farber

In a frank and revealing new memoir, the British folk-rock pioneer and six-string giant assesses his trailblazing tenure in Fairport Convention.  

Rolling Stones

Enter the Imperial Seventies: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ by David Fricke

With this eclectic, inspired piece of guitar heaven released a half-century ago, the greatest rock & roll band in the world earned the billing.

“We play a little of everything”: Willie Nelson in Conversation by David Fricke

The American icon on Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, the art of the duet, his Texas beginnings and more.

Beyonce

Rock and Roll: Beyoncé’s ‘LEMONADE’ @ 5 by Erica Campbell

How the masterwork defines and transcends the rock tradition. Erica Campbell argues for a place in the rock pantheon for Beyoncé’s LEMONADE.

“I’m Constantly Striving”: Archie Shepp in Conversation by Tom Moon

In a long and wide-ranging interview, the jazz giant thinks about his rapid ascent in the avant-garde, his shift toward the tradition, his new duo set with Jason Moran, his unearthed contributions to A Love Supreme and much more.

Archie Shepp

Evocation: Jimmy Giuffre @ 100 by Ben Ratliff

Prescient yet tradition-bound, modest but innovative, the clarinetist and saxophonist was a jazz cult hero whose music turns up in the most unexpected places.

A TIDAL Jazz Reader By Evan Haga

A celebration for International Jazz Day with interviews and criticism, including Roon’s two-part interview with Cuban artist Daymé Arocena
Head over to TIDAL Magazine to discover an abundance of original content.

Daymé Arocena: Music Roots & Creative Process. Part 2.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

We continue our conversation with Cuban artist Daymé Arocena in celebration of International Jazz Day. In Part 1, Daymé discussed Cuban music movements and teaching at Berklee. Here Daymé chats with us about her musical upbringing, creative process, and her song Homenaje from our Cuban Jazz playlist.

[Editor]: Talk to us about your relationship with jazz, as we’d love to know how you got into jazz. Was your musical upbringing learning traditional rhythms such as batá, or was it more of a classical training?

I can say that I didn’t get into jazz, jazz got into me. I never thought I was going to be a jazz singer, I thought jazz was weird music for weird people. When I was a teenager I wanted to sing music like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.

When I was in the conservatory, they had a big band that needed a singer, and I said ok. They gave me My Funny Valentine, Bye Bye Blackbird, a few standards to learn. I was just so into the great energy of the big band, and thriving with it, that at a certain point I was joining them in the jazz festivals of Cuba and Havana.

I started getting invited to join other bands, where I was asked to improvise by imitating the musicians. That is how I started to scat. Eventually I couldn’t listen to pop music anymore. All I wanted to do was sing and hear jazz.

At the same time it was amazing to have this classical training. I was at the conservatory, studying choir conducting, and it was all about Montiverdi and Beethoven. When I was born there were fourteen people living in my house. We had a tiny two-bedroom apartment to share with all of those people. I was born in 1992, when there was a special period of Cuba. There was no electricity, no radio, no tv, but the entire house played rumba!

I grew up that way, listening to rumba in the house, singing jazz in the big band, and studying classical music.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

Daymé talks to us about her creative process.

I have been writing music my whole life, I always follow the way the music comes to me. I never push things. I don’t sit in front of the piano and say, “I’m going to write a song”, because I get inspiration in any kind of situation and I just follow that. The way it came is the way it is. I feel I am just a bridge. I get the message and I deliver the message. I am kind of like a “musical Uber”.

For almost 7 years I’ve been getting songs through my dreams. It started happening after I received my religious ceremony, kind of a manifestation or appearance that I get in my dreams. Sometimes I see another artist singing a song in my dreams, and I realize that it’s a new song, and my new song.

For our playlist we’ve chosen Homenaje. Can you tell us what inspired this song?

‘Homenaje’ means ‘homage’. I wanted to have a connection with my previous album, Cubafonía, the pretty Cuban sound. Sonocardiogram is pretty jazzy, let’s say experimental, so I had a few different ideas, each inspired by a Cuban artist I admire.

The beginning was inspired by a song of Emiliano Salvador. Another part was from Arsenio Rodriguez. People believe Rodriguez was the creator of salsa music because he improved the son, which is what Buena Vista Social Club plays. That kind of group used to be seven artists, septedo, clean, and simple. He added piano, a horn section, and he was the first guy that brought the idea of a bigger group in the 50s. It’s what we have today as salsa!

In the very middle there is Cuban pianism, inspired by Lilí Martínez – one of the top guys in the history of Latin pianism in Cuba. At the very end, I was inspired by a woman called Merceditas Valdés, who was the first person to incorporate the chants and sounds of Afro-Cuban religion, which were only known in secret ceremonies. She combined them with jazz and made it popular. It’s my tribute to the big artists and pioneers in Cuban music history.

Follow Daymé Arocena on Instagram, and listen to her music on TIDAL and Qobuz.

A New Way to Discover Jazz

In the century since its birth, jazz has exploded from its African American roots to music scenes around the world, absorbing and incorporating cultural traditions as it goes. With its incredible variety of subgenres and branches, it covers a huge breadth of instruments, performers, and styles. That complexity gives Roon a tremendous amount of data, connections, and content to work with.

Finding your way with Roon

Jazz stands apart from other contemporary genres largely due to its emphasis on improvisation, which often blurs the line between “composer” and “performer.” While much of jazz relies on a songbook of standards for its foundation, no two performances of a tune are alike, making the canon of recorded jazz rich territory for exploration. Take a standard like Gershwin’s Summertime as an example… In Roon, you’ll find thousands of recordings by various performers from different periods and across genres, and then you can search within them. (Try using Filter to find versions by Mahalia Jackson, John Coltrane, or even Janis Joplin).

Roon makes it easy to find new recordings, to put your discoveries into context, and to make clear links between performers. Our goal is to create a fluid, sprawling journey through jazz that mirrors the music itself.


Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night, but differently each time.

Ornette Coleman

Seeing the whole picture

Another defining characteristic of jazz is that ensemble lineups (even among well-known groups) are fluid, and collaborations among musicians are the rule rather than the exception. Because Roon knows the personnel on most jazz recordings, you’ll be presented with music in a way that lets you easily uncover gems in your collection and beyond it.

For example, you might know Herbie Hancock from classic albums like Maiden Voyage or Head Hunters, his groundbreaking innovations like Rockit, or popular recent releases like his album covering Joni Mitchell, but Roon understands the full breadth of his work over the last 60 years, across more than 500 albums.

Explore his early performances on classic Miles Davis releases, his collaborations with luminaries like Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter, or his hundreds of appearances across legendary labels like Blue Note, Verve, and Columbia Jazz. When you explore a jazz legend in Roon, you’re not limited to their own albums or someone’s idea of a “greatest hits” playlist – you can find every performance, every appearance, and every composition using Focus.

From Kamasi to Coleman

Connections between jazz musicians form a web-like pattern, which makes for some exciting discoveries. Our recommendation technology, Valence, guides you with recommendations and suggestions whether you’re new to the genre or a seasoned connoisseur. Browsing a performer, for example, you may be guided to recordings made during their career heyday, see their music performed by other musicians, or explore their influences and followers. All these cues are designed to send you even deeper into the genre.

Let’s use Kamasi Washington’s acclaimed Heaven and Earth (2018) as an example. In Roon, when you view the track list, you’ll see that the majority are original compositions, but the third track, Hub Tones, is by trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard. We can see that there are 17 other recordings of the composition, which takes us off into other artists, albums, performances, and even different places in time. Or you could scroll through Kamasi Washington’s page to see his influences, which include greats like Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter and Ornette Coleman. In a few simple steps we’re discovering jazz musicians and performances as if we had an expert by our side.

Ready to hear more?

We’ve curated some playlists if you’d like to kickstart your own journey through jazz. They’re made by our experts and informed by the listening habits of thousands of enthusiasts. See if you agree with our choices and let us know what stands out for you!

Qobuz: Roon Rhythm, London Jazz Explosion

TIDAL: Cuban Jazz, Icelandic Jazz, Fireside Jazz (festive/winter)

Daymé Arocena: Cuban Music Breakout. Part 1.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

In celebration of International Jazz Day, we had the privilege of speaking to the Havana born and raised 28-year-old singer, choir conductor, and composer Daymé Arocena about her music journey. In our Cuban Jazz playlist on TIDAL, we feature Daymé’s Homenaje from her latest album, Sonocardiogram. Daymé chats with us from her home in Toronto, and takes us on a trip through Cuba’s rich music history.

[Editor]: What do you want our readers to know about contemporary Cuban music?

First, to understand music in Cuba, you have to understand Cuba. Before 1959, Cuban musicians were getting influence from everywhere. The music was developing and reinventing, and that’s why we have big ages of movement. The beginning of Cuban music, danzón and contradanza, was inspired by French music from Paris. It was really complicated to dance to. I don’t even know how to dance to it! Then we have bolero. Then cha-cha-cha, created by Enrique Jorrin.

Then we get the big movement filin, which is all of those beautiful songs which people call boleros. People like Louis Miguel brought a lot of those songs back in the 90s.

Then we get mambo, the first big meeting between the United States and Cuba. The big band arrived in Cuba, in a Cuban way, with congas and bongos. It was like swing and New Orleans style, but at the same time it had montuno. It was a huge movement.

There is also the vibe of the music of the Caribbean with more traditional songs from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, coming with the immigration of people to and from Cuba. In the 1990s, the movement of Timba was huge. Timba is not salsa. It’s really complicated to dance to. People didn’t want to travel because Cuba was the place to play Timba.

In 1959, there was the Cuban revolution with no more people coming in and going out. That’s why people around the world are stuck in the idea that Cuban music is that of before 1959. In the 90s, when Buena Vista Social Club was really big, nobody was listening to or playing that music in Cuba, so people felt disrespected. People were bringing this to the world as the Cuban music to listen to, whilst another 40 years of music was being ignored!

It was disappointing for that generation to confuse people around the world with music that is more than 100 years old. We have to respect that tradition, but it was unfair for the development of Cuban music.

After 1959, we had songo, a lot of rhythms and genres. We didn’t stop! What stopped was the industry. We didn’t have industry to publish our music overseas. Everything we were creating was stuck. People don’t know that there are people playing music like me in Cuba. They expect mambo or cha-cha-cha, but that is 70-years-old music.

Image: Daymé Arocena. Photo credit: Pablo Dewin

Daymé speaks to us about her invitation to teach master classes at Berklee College of Music.

Berklee was an impossible dream to reach. As a Cuban I thought I’d never get there. I remember saying to someone “I wish I could study there” and they said “you could teach there”. Those students got the opportunity I didn’t have. I cannot believe that there are students who apply to Berklee singing my music. That’s huge!

Camila Cortina is one of the only students who got to study at Berklee from Cuba. She was my professor in Cuba, and she’s a student there now! Sometimes you don’t believe things that are happening to you, especially because in Cuba there is no opportunity. I wasn’t even allowed to perform in Cuba. 

In Cuba you need the permission of the government to perform, even if you’ve studied music at school. When you finish school you have to apply for permission to perform, and that obligation is a huge nightmare. I wanted to play my own music and have my own band. I applied three times and was denied. I remember the first global tour I did as Daymé Arocena, I was surprised that I didn’t need permission from other governments to perform. I didn’t know that that was just Cuba!

I started travelling the world, but I’d return to Cuba and not be allowed to perform. The government noticed that I was in The New York Times and The Guardian. The Minister of Culture said to me “they stole you from us!”. I said, “I was here! You denied me three times!”. I know people in the same situation. People who are so talented and not allowed to perform in Cuba.

There are a lot of statements to make as a Cuban artist. I need to speak for those who are still waiting for their chance. I believe if I have the good luck to do things, I don’t need to be selfish. Everything is pretty raw in Cuba, there is a lot of talent but people don’t get the opportunity or the information.

I try to speak about my community, my people. They are my biggest supporters. I don’t have many followers on Instagram, because they just got it, they don’t know how to use it! I have to speak for them. If they have a cell phone now, it doesn’t get the internet, it’s pretty old style.

Follow Daymé Arocena on Instagram, and listen to her music on TIDAL and Qobuz. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Women in Music

For International Women’s Day 2021 we created two playlists to celebrate some of the fantastic women in music. For our first playlist, Women Composers on TIDAL, we chose to celebrate women composers in classical music, highlighting a range of composers from 12th century Hildegard von Bingen to 19th century pioneer Louise Farrenc and contemporary composer Dobrinka Tabakova. 

Hildegard composed many liturgical songs along with academic writings, and is one of the first identifiable composers in western music. Here we feature her song O pastor animarum (O shepherd of our souls). 19th century pianist, composer, and teacher Louise Farrenc deserves a special mention as a pioneer of music scholarship and equal pay. Farrenc was the only woman to become a professor at the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century. Until 1870, women could not enroll in composition classes at the conservatory, and Farrenc was only allowed to teach piano, not composition. Despite this, Farrenc persevered with composition, producing a variety of orchestral, chamber, and piano works. Farrenc fought hard for equality, demanding equal pay to her male contemporaries. In her day, Farrenc was more famous for her piano playing than her composing, with her compositions becoming more well-known in the 21st century. Despite the barriers to women working in composition and creative arts, Farrenc received praise by Hector Berlioz and Robert Schumann in her time. In this playlist we feature Farrenc’s lyrical Cello Sonata in B-Flat Major, Op.46 – II. Andante sostenuto

Another French composer to study at the Paris Conservatory was 20th century Lili Boulanger. Boulanger was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome in 1913 for musical composition at the age of 19. She came from a musical family, and her sister Nadia Boulanger was a composer and conductor best known for teaching leading 20th century composers including Quincy Jones, Aaron Copland, and Philip Glass. Lili Boulanger also sang and played piano, violin, cello and harp, and studied with family friend Gabriel Fauré. Her catalogue includes orchestral, chamber, vocal, and choral works. Boulanger’s compositions are noted for the use of harmonies and text setting. In this playlist we feature Nocturne performed by Janine Jansen. 

Another pioneer of women’s rights in music was Amy Beach, an American pianist and composer of the 19th and early 20th centuries who wrote the first symphony composed by an American woman. Beach was a symbol of women’s rights during the suffrage movement, fighting hard for a woman’s place in the musical world. Beach famously expressed that “music is the superlative expression of life experience, and woman by the very nature of her position is denied many of the experiences that colour the life of man.” Another important woman composer of the early 20th century was Croatian countess Dora Pejačević. Pejačević, another composer born into a musical family, was the daughter of singer and pianist Baroness Lilli Vay de Vaya. Pejačević studied in Zagreb, Dresden and Munich and produced a wide catalogue of piano pieces, orchestral works, chamber music and songs.

Other composers included are Pauline Viardot, Clara Schumann, Teresa Carreño, Rebecca Clarke, Florence Price, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Poldowski, Ethyl Smyth, Margaret Bonds, Ruth Gipps, and contemporary composers Anna Clyne, Thea Musgrave, Isobel Waller-Bridge, Dobrinka Tabakova and Meredith Monk.

Our second playlist, Inspiring Women on Qobuz, features a mixture of iconic and contemporary female artists. We feature iconic artists such as Madonna, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, Carole King, Dolly Parton and Joni Mitchell. Contemporary highlights include the unique sounds of Norwegian jazz bassist and singer Ellen Andrea Wang and London-based jazz saxophonist Nubya Garcia. We feature Garcia’s Stand With Each Other from her pan-global album Source. Contemporary vocal highlights include Ane Brun, Joy Denalane, Kandace Springs, Kimberose, Lianna La Havas, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Celeste, and Jazzmeia Horn.

Sarah works on music editorial and research as part of Roon’s Music Team. Artists pictured from top to bottom: Jazzmeia Horn, Dominique Fils-Aimé.