[microsound-announce] New podcast: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Jonny Trunk. Part II. A library music selection

Radio Web MACBA rwm2008 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 8 06:02:39 EST 2012


Library music and myself met by accident. I had been collecting film and TV
music for a while, but was always curious about the incidental background
music used for science programming and bizarre European documentaries.
There didn’t seem to be a way of finding out what this music was or where
it came from, no record shops could help me and there were no commercial
albums of the recordings anywhere. But one day I found a strange looking LP
in a bargain bin. The LP was called Dramatics Electronic1, and had the
track listing on its front, with bad drawings of a clarinet and trumpet in
the background. After a little research I discovered this was a ‘library’
record and my journey into the most wonderful, beautiful and experimental
world of sound was about to begin.
Library music is non-commercial music made for inexpensive use in film, TV
and broadcasting. Throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties it was
pressed onto vinyl by a small number of established library companies in
Europe, and supplied to TV broadcasters and film studios. You could not buy
this music in the shops.
Composed by talented and risk-taking composers, this incredible genre is
full of the obvious and bizarre. It is a musical world full of strange
wonders, of peculiar nostalgia, of invented themes, oddball electronics and
styles of sound that defy categorization. It’s where music is made for
under the sea, for inside your dreams or for nuclear power stations at
lunch time. It’s a musical place where composers can be controlled and
compose for specific orders, or they can be free of any musical
restrictions and produce material that sounds like nothing that has come
Some of this music has tremendous familiarity and nostalgia, especially
when a library cue has been used for a game show or children’s TV theme.
But its use is always unpredictable and library music has been the
background to science and the foreground the horror and hardcore
pornography. Over the last fifteen years it has been recognized and a major
influence on hip-hop artists, and has slowly become and important and
influential genre. Prices for rare LPs remain very high. I have also
produced a book examining the bizarre cover art of the library album; with
a need to communicate purpose and not egos, the artwork surprises and can
often be refreshingly simple.
Here I present (in my opinion) the fifteen best European library music
companies, along with some of their amazing music – strange, beautiful and
free from the usual commercial restraints of pop and fame. *Jonny Trunk,
December 2011*
*Previous episode: MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Jonny Trunk. Part
II: *http://rwm.macba.cat/en/research/memorabilia_jonny_trunk/capsula
*Jonny Trunk lecture:
Jonny Trunk @Radio_Web_MACBA: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/jonny_trunk_tag
*Follow us at http://twitter.com/Radio_Web_MACBA*
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