Violinist follows Radiohead down the free album route

LONDON - Violinist Tasmin Little is following in the footsteps of Radiohead by making her newest recording available to download for free.

Radiohead made history by launching their most recent album, 'In Rainbows', online before it went into shops, and by saying that fans could pay as little or as much for it as they thought fit.

Little is going one step further by offering her recording completely free from her website, starting from next week. Called 'The Naked Violin', the album features three solo pieces and will include spoken introductions to each track.

She hopes that by making the album free, it will help break down perceptions of classical music being elitist.

Little said: "Many people who are new to classical music are understandably reluctant to take the plunge of spending money on a commercial CD, which in most instances will focus on a single composer or on pieces which are stylistically linked in some way.

"I wanted to create an accessible product on as many fronts as possible in which listeners who are familiar with my style of playing and those who are completely new to the solo violin can enjoy a recording of the violin as in concert."

The album features a recording of Bach's Partita No 3; a Polish folk-inspired track called Luslawice Variations, written in 1984 by Paul Patterson; and a sonata by Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye, written in 1924.

Little plays two different violins on the album. One is a Stradivarius, on loan from the Royal Academy of Music, and the other is owned by Little, made by Guadagnini in 1757.

Opinion is divided as to the success of Radiohead's experiment. 'In Rainbows' has reached number one in the UK album charts, but the band refused to comment on how much the average fan paid to download the album prior to its release.

Estimates have claimed it was in the region of between £2.50 and £5, although some estimates said the band made as little as £1 on each album.

However, as the album was released without the assistance of a major record label, this spells more profits for the band than it would otherwise, and the album last week went to number 1 when it was released on CD.