Friday, January 22, 2010

The World of Library Music

What the heck is library music?

You've probably heard the term in recent years, perhaps used by that music collector friend of yours who has a taste for obscure grooves. Here's what he'd probably tell you about the genre.

Originally conceived to accompany film, TV and radio productions, library music (aka sound library, program music or music for hire) represents the missing link between soundtracks and diverse styles such as jazz, funk and rock, not to mention orchestral and electronic avant-garde.

Library music isn't new. It's been around since the dawn of the music industry, filling a need created by movies, radio and television programming. Whether you're talking about WWII newsreels and old time radio shows or TV news and car commercials, library music has been (and continues to be) used to create atmosphere and excitement when original scoring is unavailable.

Most of the library music available on CD (and LP) today comes from the '60s and '70s -- the heyday of jazzy, funky, rock-influenced grooves as well as atmospheric orchestral and electronic atmospheres. That said, there still are library labels churning out music in a variety of contemporary styles that you've probably heard in such disparate contexts as video games and porno DVDs (I know, I know, you don't watch porno ;-)

The most collectible library albums and compilations collect the work of talented session musicians such as Syd Dale, Nick Ingman, Peter Reno, Nino Nardini, Johnny Hawksworth, Eddie Warner and many others for such labels as KPM, De Wolfe, Chappell, Selected Sound, Bosworth, Bruton and on and on. Many of these labels are based in the UK, France, Germany and Italy. The originals go for big bucks, which makes the CD compilations very attractive indeed.

There are even contemporary recording artists such as Shawn Lee and Clutchy Hopkins whose records are clearly inspired by classic library music of the funky, psychedelic era.

Once you start collecting library music you may find it hard to stop, because the quality of the musicianship is outstanding and the creativity of some (but not all) recordings is astonishing (especially from the late '60s and early '70s). While some library music does have a generic quality, there is plenty that distinguishes itself. If you consider yourself musically adventurous, you owe it to yourself to explore the genre.

Read more about
library music available on CD.

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