The Record Label Remixing Novels into Music

From The Guardian:

Last year, Taylor Swift’s album Evermore featured two prominent nods to literature: the Rebecca-inspired Tolerate It, and Happiness, a breakup song which references F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

After the news that Dolly Parton’s debut novel is to be released alongside her new album, it seems that fiction-inspired music is having its moment.

The scores to screen adaptions of books have enjoyed steady sales for years, with Wendy Carlos’ and Rachel Elkind’s soundtrack to The Shining (1980) due to receive a vinyl reissue later this month. And authors have been writing existing music into their work for decades: the late Sean Hughes’s 1997 novel The Detainees featured a revenge-seeking antiques dealer who becomes galvanised after being pushed into a Wedding Present mosh pit.

The Scottish micro label Bibliotapes has made literature-inspired music into an entire business. The label’s objective – asking musicians to compose new scores to classic novels – is an idea so simple it could almost be a happy accident. Stuart McLean, who runs it, suggests that’s the case.

“There was no grand plan. The label can be best summed up in a sentence: soundtracks for books on tape,” writes McLean.

“After I mentioned the idea of book soundtracks on Twitter, I was sent one for CS Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew by Ioan Morris, who’s composed many of the Doctor Who soundtracks for Big Finish’s audio adaptions.”

Eight further soundtracks to novels have now been released by the label, including Audio Obscura’s pulsating score to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-FourRupert Lally’s brooding woodwind compositions for John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, and the electronica prepared by Twenty-Three Hanging Trees as an accompaniment to Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (and since picked by Meadows Records).

Bibliotapes is releasing its soundtracks in cassette form only (McLean “never felt the point of hanging on to something long after the physical copies have sold”, and “cassettes are faster to make and distribute” than vinyl), but the artists themselves have kept their music available digitally via Bandcamp.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

The OP sounded interesting to PG until he got to the part about releasing the soundtracks on cassette.

PG will rely on British visitors to comment concerning whether this is a reasonable commercial structure or not, but PG doesn’t think he still has any equipment that can play music on cassette tapes. If he does, he expects the music would sound very unlike what listens to on a daily basis.

1 thought on “The Record Label Remixing Novels into Music”

  1. A quick search revealed that there has been a significant revival in cassette sales in the UK in the last few years (from a pretty low base of course) and that quite a few musicians are including cassette versions in their releases. It seems doubtful that it is a very good way to make money though.

    This is much to my surprise I might add, as I had assumed that the only market would be the owners of old cars who’d not bought one of those devices that turned the cassette player into an input for other music sources. Still what do I know, I thought that there was no way vinyl would be revived (and based on my experience having spent half my life listening to LPs I still think that this is a very bad idea, unless the aim is just to display the cover art).

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