David Hollander – Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music


Anthology Editions, ISBN-13: 978-1944860127, English, 332 pages, 2018, UEA

Before the process of sampling and digitalisation revolutionised the music industry ‘Library Music’ was a particular system of music production for a strict elite of professionals in audio and video production. Its history is reconstructed and documented in details in this book, describing its economy, conventions, and degrees of freedom. Starting with an invaluable introduction by George A. Romero, who discusses his historical decision to use this type of music for his film “Night of the Living Dead”, Unusual Sounds documents the productions of legions of anonymous artists, particularly during the boom in the 1960s and 1970s. Library music could be interpreted as the aural correspondent to visual ‘stock photos’, together with other obscure ‘background music’ such as Muzak or early video-game music. This is an archival book, a sort of contextualised printed database, including covers, pictures, composers and short interviews with leading figures in the five biggest producing countries: UK, France, Italy, Germany and the USA. A whole submerged music ecosystem re-forms while reading, including what has been or will be irreparably lost. With the current massive digitalisation of everything in parallel with curated reissues, this is a media archeological process that will hopefully preserve its precious sources.