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.

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An experience tailor-made for you

Whether you’re just starting with Roon or you’ve been building a listening history for years, our new updated Home screen gives you an all-new visualization of your listening habits.

You’ll see a calendar view of the last few weeks of listening, along with charts of your top genres, artists, and albums. These charts can display the last week, month, year, or all time, and you can drill down for even more detail.

We’ve also added quick links to our Community, so you’re always just one click away from support from us and our music experts.

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Focus: far beyond “search”

Roon’s Focus feature has long been a powerful way to filter and sort the albums in your library using Roon’s extensive metadata. Our real aspiration has always been to make the power and flexibility of Focus available in more contexts.

To accomplish that goal, we redesigned Focus to combine multi-criteria filters with sort and text filter, creating a unified interface that’s available virtually everywhere in Roon. Now you can Focus on tracks on an album, artists in a genre, albums in an artist’s discography, or collaborations among artists.

The impact of this new design on classical music (and composer-based browsing in other genres) is profound. It’s now possible to Focus on compositions by period, instrumentation, and form, and to sort them by title, popularity, and composition date. You can now also browse albums which feature works by a composer.

While Focus once let you filter and sort the music in your library, it now extends to all the streaming music available on TIDAL and Qobuz, giving you a truly 360-degree view of artists and composers – whether you have their complete discographies in your library or not.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a preview of the new features designed specifically for classical music!

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Context & meaning, powered by Valence

When you think of discovering new music, you may think of reading a great review, or finding that you love the opening act at a concert. You might imagine a conversation with a friend – maybe one who really knows their music history or stays on top of new releases – who happens to know what you like, too.

You probably don’t think of a network of servers analyzing the listening habits of zillions of users, using collaborative filtering to identify patterns in the data and find other content that you just might like. That’s the reality of algorithmic recommendation, though, which is why it often falls short of expectations.

Valence does more than compare you to other users. It uses Roon’s deep metadata as its foundation, providing context about music and connections between the people who compose, perform, and produce it. Next, it considers your listening history before filtering for the results that are most popular, but only among listeners who are experts in that genre.

This multidimensional approach is what gives Valence recommendations meaning. The very idea of “Top performers of works by Johannes Brahms” (or any of the examples in this post) would be impossible without a fundamental understanding of composers, genres, time periods, geography, compositions, form, instrumentation, performers, and collaborations.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing a preview of the new browsing tools available in Roon 1.8!

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A completely new look & feel

We’ve rolled out the latest version of Roon, which is so big that we’ve put together a series of feature previews to show off its highlights. Today, we bring you a peek at Roon’s completely new look and feel.

Roon now has a fresh new visual design that takes its inspiration from the concept of the museum – an airy, neutral environment in which to display things of beauty. You’ll see your music right where you want it: front and center.

True to our founding principles, we don’t think of music as data, and we don’t think it should be presented as if it were. We took cues from classic music magazines, using bold typography and innovative layout to bring music to life.

All this beauty is much more than skin deep. With our latest innovations in data presentation, Roon is now easier and more engaging to use than ever. More on that tomorrow!

Introducing Roon 1.8

Welcome to an immersive new music experience. A new look, new intelligence, and new features, designed for the community of experts that call Roon home.

A completely new look & feel

Roon now has a fresh new visual design that takes its inspiration from the idea of the museum – an airy, neutral environment in which to display things of beauty. We also took cues from classic music magazines, using bold typography and innovative layout to bring music to life. Along with innovations in data presentation, Roon is now a joy to use.

Context & meaning, powered by Valence

Roon goes far beyond the “algorithmic recommendations” you’ll find in mass-market streaming products. Using its deep metadata and an understanding of over 100,000 expert listeners from Valence, Roon now surfaces and suggests music with uncanny sensitivity and insight.

Focus: far beyond “search”

Roon’s Focus feature has long been the most powerful way to explore your own music, but now it goes beyond your library, giving you a 360º-view of artists, genre, performers, and composers. Filter and sort virtually any music in Roon by performer, producer, composer, label, and a wide variety of other parameters.

Classical music reimagined

The way you explore classical music is different; that’s why we’ve come up with a completely new visual style and information layout, designed to make it easy to find the classical recordings you’re looking for. Valence identifies relationships between composers, conductors, and performers – and helps weed out the no-name releases – so you can find well-regarded performances of any composition.

An experience tailor-made for you

Valence now makes suggestions based not only on context (what you’re looking at and what you’re listening to) but also on your taste. Right on Roon’s brand new Home page, you’ll see a dashboard which lets you explore your listening – both the fine-grained history of the last few weeks, and the statistical view of your listening over time.

🎶 Happy Holidays from Roon

We want to thank our subscribers  for everything you have done to help us improve Roon and grow our amazing community this year – we couldn’t have done it without you. 

We have lots of exciting plans for 2021 that we can’t wait to share with you, including new updates to our software  and making Roon compatible with even more fantastic audio products. 

If you need any support over the holidays, visit our new Help Center or head over to our Community and join in the discussions with thousands of other Roon subscribers.

To make your holiday season more musical, we’ve curated some festive playlists on TIDAL and Qobuz, including Christmas Carols, Fireside Jazz and Winter Warmers

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! 

All our thanks,
The Roon Team

Fall asleep to your music with Roon’s new sleep timer feature

Many Roon users listen to music in bed or while winding down for the day in their favorite listening place. Whether it’s a soothing playlist or internet radio station, it’s a great way to end the day.

With our latest update, you can do just that. Simply start your music, set when you want it to end, and fall asleep to your tunes as the music gently fades out. The sleep timer is available for any zone on any device, and can be accessed from the zone’s volume pop-up by clicking on the moon crescent icon.

We’re always looking for new ways to improve the Roon experience, so in addition to the new sleep timer, we have also implemented a number of functionality improvements, including updates to the DSP and graphics engine, which can be found in the release notes on our community site. We hope you enjoy this long awaited update and look forward to hearing what you think.

Find your favorite music more easily with the latest version of Roon

Our aim is to make it as simple as possible for you to find the music you love and to play it on your audio gear. That’s why in the latest release of Roon, we’ve updated the overview screen so your favorite music is just one click away. 

Roon’s overview screen has always functioned as a kind of “home” screen, providing you with easy access to your recently added music and new releases recommended for you. If you liked an album enough to add it to your collection, Roon has always made sure it’s close to hand.

But we realize that not everyone listens in the same way, and with the latest Roon release, we wanted to make sure ‘overview’ was useful to those who spend their time listening to singles, playlists, or classical compositions, too. 

Now, in addition to browsing recent library additions, your new ‘Recent Activity’ will also give you quick access to all sorts of content you’ve been listening to lately, including albums, playlists, artists, tracks, and compositions. So it’s easier than ever to find your latest music discoveries and more. 

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 page.

The end of the walled garden

In January 2015, I wrote a deck to help me talk to the music and audio industries about Roon, which was still months or more from launching. Depending on how you looked at it, the presentation was either a cool product vision or (as Danny complained) it was “full of lies.”

The problem was a pair of slides that (I thought) handily summarized how Roon was going to work. The first stated that “Roon understands all your content,” meaning that it would find and identify music in various file formats on your hard drives, your iTunes library, and on your NAS, as well as importing your playlists and favorites from your streaming service. All of that was true enough (sort of). The second slide more boldly claimed that “Roon plays with all your hardware” which was – there’s no nice way to dress this up – just completely untrue at that point.

A fresh start with a new vision

After years of building closed hardware systems at Sooloos and Meridian, we learned that our place in the world is designing user experiences, not audio hardware. To reach all the enthusiasts and audiophiles out there, Roon had to work with absolutely everything.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. Roon 1.0 worked, to varying degrees, with USB, AirPlay, and Meridian devices. It was a good start, but hardly “all your hardware.” Over the next few releases, we added support for Squeezebox, Google Cast, Sonos, HDMI, and a handful of proprietary integrations like Devialet AIR, Linn, and KEF. The Roon Remote apps on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows also play audio, so the dream of playing music everywhere was ever closer to becoming reality.

As we expanded Roon’s support of audio devices, though, two issues emerged as show-stoppers: (a) there was uncertainty about whether a device would work with Roon, and (b) there was no simple, reliable way to play high-resolution audio over your network.

To solve the first issue, we created the Roon Tested program, which lets us collaborate with audio brands on testing and quality assurance. Manufacturers send us their products, and we confirm that Roon identifies them correctly and has their features and specifications in its database. It turns out that seeing your device pop up in Roon – fully identified and working as expected – goes a long way to building confidence.

The second issue was a bigger challenge. The broadly accepted standard for high-resolution streaming at the time was UPnP, which we actively chose not to support. While promising in principle, the UPnP standard (and its derivative, DLNA) makes sacrifices in user experience (specifically audio format support and rich metadata) that run contrary to our goals for Roon. Also, because there’s no certification mechanism for UPnP devices, implementations vary widely and the experience of using them is… variable.

Build it and they will come

As an alternative, we chose to develop a high-resolution streaming protocol (RAAT) that addressed the shortcomings of existing systems, and we built an SDK for hardware manufacturers to integrate into their devices. Armed with a data sheet and a dream, we set out to convince an industry that we had built something better.

That was December 2015. To our surprise and delight, it was only 30 days later that the world’s first Roon Ready device was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas – the Auralic Aries. Since then, over 80 brands have signed on to the program, making it the most widely-used high-resolution streaming protocol in the world.

Together, the Roon Ready and Roon Tested programs have changed the audio industry. By collaborating with manufacturers, we’ve created a new kind of experience, in which hardware from one company and software from another genuinely work together flawlessly. Roon subscribers can readily get support from a team that has access to the products they’re using, so both our subscribers and our partners are happy.

Which brings me back to my infamous deck. This week, five years since we launched Roon, we can finally say with a straight face that Roon plays with all your hardware.