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Anonymous Creativity: Library Music and Screen Cultures in the 1960s and 1970s

Posted: August 4th, 2022 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

We invite chapter proposals for an edited collection focusing on library music in the 1960s and 1970s and its contemporary afterlife.

Library music – sometimes referred to as stock or production music – is music created specifically for synchronisation in radio, film, television, and other media. Unlike traditional scoring, library music is not created for integration into a specific media artefact but is designed to capture more general themes or moods. Despite being used in a variety of media as far back as the 1920s, library music has yet to gain extensive academic attention. This collection aims to historicise and theorise aspects of library music production during what is often referred to as its ‘golden age’ – the period from the 1960s to the early 1980s – which witnessed a huge rise in library music production (linked to the emergence of television production and an increase in independent filmmaking). Library music composers were key contributors to the sonic identity of audiovisual media of the period, providing thousands of signature tunes, themes, and incidental music for film and television programmes. Despite their ubiquity and enduring cultural resonance, their contributions are often unacknowledged, and very little is known about the conditions in which library music was written, commissioned, recorded, circulated, and used. There has been some important academic work on library music (e.g. Nardi 2012; Wissner 2017; Durand 2020), but there is still much to be discovered within this relatively overlooked mode.

Proposals on library music from this period are welcomed from – but not limited to – researchers in the fields of film and television music, film history, media studies, fan studies.

Possible themes/topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

· Labour Relations and Modes of Production
Examples of which might include:

  • Relationship between Unions, publishers, composers, and musicians
  • Internationalisation, global interdependencies and country-specific modes of production
  • Histories / case studies of specific recorded music libraries
  • Histories / case studies of recording studios
  • Promotion and circulation of library music recordings

· Creativity, Originality, and Standardisation
Examples of which might include:

  • Constraints and rationalised creativity: briefs, limitations and referentiality
  • Library music albums and distributed creativity: the role of artistic directors, studio engineers, sleeve designers, etc.
  • Changing techniques, technologies and instruments and relationship to technological and industrial resources (e.g. magnetic tape, vinyl records, etc)
  • Case studies of specific library music composers (studies of female composers will be especially welcome).
  • Modes, genres, and styles (notably experimental forms of library music and its relation to popular trends and to the avant-garde).
  • The status of session musicians.
  • The use of pseudonyms and collective names and its implications.

· The Uses of Library Music
Examples of which might include:

  • Across various programmes / media artefacts.
  • Across countries.
  • Case studies of how specific directors / film genres used library music.
  • Case studies on the life cycle of specific library tracks and/or albums.
  • Licensing and copyright.
  • Uses by the BBC and commercial television.

· Recyclability, Recirculation, and Remediation: Contemporary Revaluation of Historical Library Music Cultures
Examples of which might include:

  • Memorialisation, historiography and heritage practices: the role of individual collectors and institutions; institutional and non-institutional modes of archiving, documenting, digitising and collecting library music.
  • Artistic, critical and commercial remediations: reissuing, sampling, DJ-ing.
  • Reception: audiences, fans, collectors, nostalgia, cult value.
  • The material and visual culture of library music and its legacy on contemporary music.

This book stems from a Leverhulme funded project which investigates British, French, and Italian library music, but is not limited to those countries. While we are focusing on library music produced in the 1960s and 1970s, we are interested in the use of such music beyond this period; for example, older library music is still synchronised in media, and has been used as sample material by a range of musicians.

We have received potential interest from Bloomsbury in this collection, though we will not formally submit a proposal until we have fully confirmed the content of the collection. We currently estimate chapters being between 6000-8000 words. Please send abstracts of 300 to 500 words and a 150-word biographical note – as well as any other questions – to [email protected]

Deadline for chapter proposals: September 30, 2022
Notification of acceptance: By November 4, 2022
We anticipate the deadline for the submission of chapters to be late 2023.

Durand, Júlia. 2020. ‘“Romantic Piano” and “Sleazy Saxophone” Categories and Stereotypes in Library Music Catalogues’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, Issue 14, Volume 1, pp. 23-45.

Nardi, Carlo. 2012. ‘Library Music: Technology, Copyright and Authorship’ in Current Issues in Music Research: Copyright, Power and Transnational Music Processes, eds. Iván Iglesias, Pedro Roxo, Salwa E. Castelo-Branco and Susana Moreno Fernández (Lisbon: Colibri), pp. 73-83.

Wissner. Reba. 2017. ‘Music for Murder, Machines, and Monsters: ‘Moat Farm Murder’, The Twilight Zone, and the CBS Stock Music Library.’ Music, Sound and the Moving Image. Volume 11, Issue 2, pp. 157-186.

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