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

Nessa Johnston (Editor), Jamie Sexton (Editor), Elodie A. Roy (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Library music was inexpensive, off-the-shelf music available to license for a small fee. It was widely used in television and film as a cheaper alternative to commissioned soundtracks. The book pays attention to the different individuals, groups, organisations and institutions involved in making library music, as well as to its transnational sites of production (from continental recording studios to regional cutting rooms). It addresses questions of distributed creativity, collective authorship, and agency. How and in what conditions were library music tracks written, recorded and disseminated? What can we learn from mapping their circulation across different media and spatiotemporal sites? Why has anonymity traditionally been such an important aspect of library music? And how can we interpret the contemporary revival of library music and the phono-archaeological practices of groups such as collectors, reissue record labels, musicians and DJs?

Combining empirical and theoretical research, the book unveils the modus operandi of a highly secretive yet enduringly significant cultural industry. By drawing attention to the cultural ubiquity and intersectionality of library music, the collection also shifts emphasis from individual film and TV composers to the invisible community of music publishers, writers, and session musicians. It argues that the latter were collectively responsible for fashioning much of the sonic identity of 1960s and 1970s film and television. As well as providing a nuanced understanding of historical library music cultures, the collection shows how they continue to inform contemporary audiovisual cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages256
ISBN (Electronic)9798765109854, 9798765109878
ISBN (Print)9798765109861
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jun 2024

Publication series

NameNew Approaches to Sound, Music, and Media

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