I’ve just listened to the fascinating Radio 4 documentary Into the Music Library. It examines library music, which we’re surrounded by but don’t always notice: music written for a purpose, to create a mood or describe a scene. It’s far from anodyne elevator muzak, though. Famous pieces include the theme tunes for Grandstand, Grange Hill and Mastermind (none of which were written specifically for those shows).

It seems to me that composing library music is like copywriting – it’s anonymous and functional. Like copy, the music does a job. The composers must keep it simple, restrained and discreet, but it still has soul. However, I can’t imagine writing generic paragraphs that could be used for anything.

And you can’t dance to the written word. But I will be dancing to library music in a couple of weeks: Bibliotheque Discotheque is part of Sheffield’s Sensoria film and music festival, and I’m very excited. Dancing! In the library!

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