Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Main Objective of the DOS Amigos Homepage?
By means of this web site I want to provide free sheet music for classical guitar (solo, duo and ensemble) for the international classical guitar community. I have played almost every piece on this web site myself (I have been playing the guitar for well over thirty-five years now). 😉 Of course, this does not mean that I am able to play them perfectly without any preparation. During this time, I made my own sheet music versions without markings and fingerings (that’s policy) and I found it a good idea to share this collection.
Do you have more objectives with the site?
Yes, I do. Here are a few:
- Provide some information about my musical.
- Happy writing about my writing hobby: a pleasant mix of realistic fantasy in a fantastic reality!
- Publication of the reports of the Twente Guitar Festival. I was there on the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions and I have quite a history there!
- Publication of the reports of the Guitar Festival Nordhorn. I was there on the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 editions, and I am looking forward to the next sequel!
- Writing stories about the guitar CDs that I like.
- Placing recordings of pieces that I play on the net.
- Maintain links to guitar- and writing resources on the Internet.
How long does the DOS Amigos Homepage exist?
I started my first version of the DOS Amigos Homepage in 1998. Internet was new for me and a training course HTML for my job as technical author provided a perfect opportunity to play with new technology.
In those days, my Internet Service Provider granted me a full Five Megabytes web space from which the large email attachments were subtracted. It was a bit of squeezing to get the information in place.
Now I have 100 GB under an own domain name, which is quite sufficient for a large size website, enabling me to submit a lot of MP3s that make the sheet music heard. In the old days, I had to use MIDI files for that purpose, with worst case a thin can sound. Now it is better. Using the Sibelius sounds it at least remotely resembles a guitar sound.
Where does the name DOS Amigos come from?
The name comes from the guitar duo of the same name which consisted of the guitarist Hans Oosterwal and Mark de Gooijer, which is me, the undersigned. This duo existed for fifteen years until -very unfortunately- the end came in August 2007.
In the early days of the duo, Hans and I made our arrangements with the good old Musicator score writing software under Windows 3.11. Yes, the computer Stone Age: DOS and Windows! Consequently, we spent quite some time behind the screen, apart from our weekly rehearsals. The awareness of our fiddling with DOS plus the fact that we formed a musical duo based on mutual friendship were the reason for our name: DOS Amigos!
Despite the fact that the guitar duo is defunct, its name still is a household word because of this web site, which has attracted well over 200,000 visitors by now (each month an extra 4000 – 5000 visitors take a look at the site). That’s why I have continued the web site under the name DOS Amigos. Just the slogan has changed: DOS Amigos: dos Guitarras changed into DOS Amigos: La Guitarra y Yo! (Two Friends: The Guitar and I!). This is an apparent truth for me as a solo player and amateur guitarist.
How many times the DOS Amigos Homepage has been remade?
Well, it has been four times by now.
I started in 1998 with a frame layout. Those were the days that Netscape was the most popular browser, and its frame support was pretty good. In the end frames appeared a bit unpractical, it was almost impossible to obtain a consistent layout. So, I redesigned the site, using a fixed table layout. That worked much better.
After six years with the same good old layout, it started to itch a bit with me. I saw all those new technologies for web sites and became interested. I started to experiment with content management system driven websites under Joomla and Drupal, but found that I should make a less spectacular technological leap, using a table-less layout with Cascaded Style Sheet technology.
Of course, this was not without problems. Read the story about the browser quirks for some amusement!
Six years later (it looks like a ‘six-year itch’) I tried to rework the site again. Joomla failed me again, all this database stuff got out of reach for me, so I updated the site layout and graphics and included breadcrumb navigation. Quite a job with almost 2000 articles! Later on, I updated all MIDI files to MP3 files.
Now, in 2017, I decided to experiment with the WordPress platform with translation and management plugins. My provider supports it, so why not. I use a fixed theme that is clearly readable on computers, tablets and Smartphones. Yet I still have a personal approach in styling the pages. It was quite a job with about 3000 HTML pages and over 1300 media files.
Unfortunately, the WordPress exercise appeared to be a dead end as a consequence of unreliable plugins that wrecked the site on updates. So, I am back to hard coding again. Well, anyway the layout is fresh now and the structure has changed for the better.
However, after two years I decided to give WordPress another go. I changed to a faster web provider subscription with services like site backup and bought a minimalistic template that will do fine on PC, Tablet and Smartphone. It was a lot of work, but using WordPress makes site maintenance and content addition a lot easier. The old legacy site, however, will stay operational even though I do not update it any more.
What will you find on this Site?
The options in the top menu bar already give a clue of the information you can find on this web site. In brief, you will find the following in the DOS Amigos Homepage:
- Music for solo guitar, from Renaissance to the first half of the twentieth century. If available, the sheet music is in PDF format. Every piece has a MP3 file which you can play to get an impression of the piece.
- Music for guitar duo, from Renaissance to Rock. This is the repertoire of the now defunct Guitar Duo DOS Amigos. This section includes the PDF files of the sheet music (if available) and the MP3 files of the pieces.
- Music for guitar ensemble, a mixed bag. Here you will find some music for the Guitar Circle, our guitar club, and some material for ensembles like flute and guitar and voice and guitar.
- The column Guitarities: tips, tricks and stories about the guitar.
- The section Events in which you will find: The reports of the Twente Guitar Festival, a major guitar event in the eastern region of The Netherlands, where I am living. The reports of the Guitar Festival Nordhorn, a major guitar event in the western region of Germany, close to where I am living.
- A section All sorts with: This FAQ, the history of the guitar duo DOS Amigos, CD stories, little reviews of guitar CDs that I like, ordering information for books and sheet music and special items like an In Memoriam for the Dutch organist/pianist Rick van der Linden and the guitarist and composer Roland Dyens.
- Recordings that I made of a few guitar pieces.
- Mark’s, my private department with information about my musical publications and my writing hobby.
- A links page.
- A blog for the spontaneous writing.
The larger part of the DOS Amigos Homepage is dedicated to sharing music for free.
The guitar method by Aaron Shearer, the well-known American guitar pedagogue, states that the major goal for the guitar student is sharing music, i.e. performing it for other people. This brings you outside (the protection of) study and the small circle of friends and relatives, but makes your effort in learning to play quite useful: your music may move, enjoy, astonish or even exasperate other people (of course I hope that the latter will not happen to you).
You can share the music you are playing in another way as well: providing the sheet music enables others to play the music and -if desired- share it at their turn. That is exactly the intention of the DOS Amigos Homepage, be it restricted to music in the Public Domain. This applies to folk and traditional music and to classical music of composers who lived before 1938.
If I expect that there is some kind of copyright involved for a specific piece, you will be able to play it, but the sheet music is not there. As a service and a gesture to the composer/publisher I will mention the source and if known the publication number. This enables you to buy the music if you like it.
All the music on this site forms a bit of a history. I have been playing the guitar for well over forty years. The larger part of the solo material on this site I have played myself. Here you will find the classical pieces only, the popular material I have been playing is not included in this web site. The guitar duo music forms the history of 15 years of repertoire of the Guitar Duo DOS Amigos. The Ensemble music is played by the Guitar Circle, and some pieces come from attempts to form an ensemble with another instrument than the guitar.
If you can view this homepage, you already have satisfied quite a number of system requirements. For convenience, I will list them. The requirements are:
- A computer running the operating system OS-n (Macintosh), Windows 7, 8 0r 10, or Linux. The computer must have an operational Internet connection.
- A web browser which supports WordPress sites (most recent browsers do) and does not filter away all script like things.
- An on board or separate soundcard for playback of MP3s. Most modern operating systems have facilities to play MP3s. For the very oldies, you might need a suitable plugin or codec.
- An installed copy of Acrobat Reader or equivalent document viewer which supports the PDF format. You need this software to view the sheet music. Acrobat Reader is a free download on the Adobe web site. Minimum required version is 5.0. While generating the PDF files, I switched on the font embedding, so the rather exotic musical note fonts should be visible despite the fact that you do not have them on your system.
The Top Menu is the main navigation device to access the larger sections of the site. A Breadcrumb trail in the header gives you the opportunity to navigate within segments too.
I provide deeper navigation with local menus and buttons. For instance, within a smaller music segment like Renaissance within the Solo section, I will include a composer’s menu. In the composer page, there will be a submenu for the biography and the pieces. So, every composer has a number of pages.
I will use a same setup for the larger text entries like the Guitarities and the Festival reports. To support ease of browsing without having to return to the pages menu, multi-page articles get a Next Page button.
Just to give a clue where you are within the site, there are icons on the pages that indicate the kind of information presented. For instance, the links page has a small golden chain as its icon.
This story is history for the most part, the WordPress platform is surprisingly compatible with most current browsers. I consider browsers like Internet Explorer 5.5 to be an extinct dinosaur! yet it is fun to recount these old days.
When I first encountered Cascaded Style Sheets during the previous design of the DOS Amigos Homepage, I considered them quite useful for the definition of text- and table layout. It turned out, however, that CSS could help a lot more, specifically with the centralized definition of the web page layout.
The previous version of the DOS Amigos Homepage was based on nested tables. A major drawback of this setup is, that all content is wrapped in (and more or less hidden by) table cells. This makes upgrade and maintenance a tedious and error-prone job.
Additionally, I was dissatisfied with the website navigation. I wanted faster access to the main sections of the site, preferably with a top menu. Further I wanted to improve the navigation inside large documents, using a side menu rather than an in-document table of contents with links.
So, I had a perfect reason for a major website upgrade!
I started to play for some time with database controlled websites with a content management system like Joomla and Drupal. Well, that turned out to be a bridge too far for me. I am a guy who wants to understand the things I make; all these virtual database things were hard to follow. I could not see where my content was going to and all the metadata to be entered drove me nuts. For small documents, the number of metadata exceeds the actual content size.
Some of the system requirements of a content management system are the webserver (Apache-like) and the MySQL and PHP support. Unfortunately, my humble @home web space did not offer these facilities. if I wanted this technology, I would have to move to another hosting provider, with dire consequences for anyone in the world who made a bookmark to the DOS Amigos Homepage.
Designing your own layout in Joomla or Drupal is quite tricky. There are lots of ready-made templates around, but an extensive search did not yield a layout which I liked for the web site. Designing on your own, however, requires an extensive knowledge of the content management system mechanisms, quite interesting, but it would take too long before I would know enough about it: I was aiming for a short-term remake of the site.
Databases are delicate things: After a few corrupted MySQL databases (I have not the faintest idea why that happened, but one thing is certain, you have to pick up the pieces and start all over again) I decided to stop this development.
CSS looked better to me: a table-less layout with DIVs would make it more simple to trace the content in the progress of upgrade and maintenance. The work involved to convert my old web site to content management or CSS based technology was comparable, but the less stringent system requirements and the fact that I could better keep track of things shifted the balance in favour of CSS.
That’s why I studied the possibilities of CSS for some time and designed my first layout in small steps. The Firefox browser with built-in web developer extensions appeared to be a reliable companion. A bit too reliable perhaps… The result was a nice layout and some insight in the operation of the parameters of the CSS commands.
A golden tip from many a web guru is: ‘Test your website with every browser (version) you are expecting your audience to use.’ This appeared an absolute must for evaluation of the CSS support. Specifically, Internet Explorer versions have quirks which completely destroy your beautiful layout.
That’s why I downloaded Internet Explorer versions 5.5 and up, installed them and used them for a layout check.
Fortunately, Internet Explorer supports a simple browser version detection, using a detection command in a comment line. You can use these detection commands to call a so called ‘conditional CSS rule set’ for every relevant Internet Explorer version.
I made the CSS adaptations using the ill-famous ‘trial and error method’, adjusting the parameters of the CSS commands until the web page looked more or less the same for all browser versions and reacted the same way on mouse clicks.
Most of the changes were successful, although some quirks are left. A collection:
- On behalf of Internet Explorer 6 I had to define a small footer in order to prevent display of the last characters of the content under the bottom of the page. This is the small blue bar at the bottom.
- Internet Explorer 5.5 displays a small empty column at the right side of the content. Further increasing the content width messes up the layout completely. So, this bug will remain as is…
- For Internet Explorer 6 and below, the mouse-over effect does not work on table cells. That’s a pity, the visual tellback ‘where am I?’ is quite practical for the selection of an item from a table. Maybe I will find a workaround later.
Again, it is apparent: ‘If a (CSS) standard can be overruled by reality, it surely will be’. There is hope for the future nevertheless, the CSS support of Internet Explorer 7 for this site is perfect. Until the next technology leap I guess.
In the meantime, we are in 2019 and I switched to the WordPress platform. I found a well-functioning Theme with a fresh and almost minimalistic lay-out. Because WordPress is so widely spread, I do hope that we don’t have browser quirks anymore, because the time that I am able to dig deep in php-like codes is over, I guess. Just take a look at the source code in your WordPress web page in your browser, too complicate for a simple HTML coder like me!
Ad far as I know (and tested the matter) this new layout will work well on most browsers.