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Moving Background Music to the Forefront?

David Hollander
Susan Stone, NPR
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David Hollander

We hear it playing while a cop chases a hood on a vintage TV show. Or as mood music for a commercial. It has supplied the soundtrack for many a B-movie. In the future we'll hear even more of it on video games, or cell-phone ring tones, or musical dolls.

The label "library music" describes the pre-recorded tracks that were first used in the 1930s and began to thrive in the 1960s as musicians' union fees in the United States made it more expensive to commission original soundtracks. Producers turned to music made in Europe, mostly by unknown session musicians, that had been created long before it was associated with any particular creative project.

For most listeners, library music does not stick in the memory. There are exceptions, of course: the easily recognizable theme from the TV show The People's Court was a library track.

But David Hollander, a collector who has assembled thousands of these tracks, has made it his mission to introduce library music to the masses through his Cinemaphonic CD series. Hollander gives NPR's Susan Stone an audio tour of his obsession.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.