Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Huelin, Toby. “Soundtracking the City Break: Library Music in Travel Television.” Music and the Moving Image 15 (Summer 2022): 3-24.

The use of library music (also called production music or stock music) in contemporary travel television shows as analyzed at the level of episode, series, and genre is complex in its communication of meaning, engaging with notions of celebrity and location. A case study of library music in the first season of British travel series Travel Man (Channel 4, 2015-) demonstrates the production process of using library music and offers conceptual tools for its analysis. The conceit of Travel Man is that the host, comedian Richard Ayoade, does not actually like traveling. Most of the music in the show is licensed from Audio Network, a leading British music library company specializing in recorded (as opposed to synthesized) music. After a library track is selected for a particular scene based in part on metadata tags supplied by Audio Network, editors select one of several mixes provided by Audio Network and manipulate the track to fit the specific timing of the scene. The Audio Network track Travelling Circus, composed by Bob Bradley, Adam Dennis, and Chris Egan, is used in several episodes of Travel Man covering trips to Paris, Naples, Brussels, Oslo, Madeira, Ljubljana, and Milan. Travelling Circus is often used in combination with voiceover to signify a broad sense of “travel” rather than any specific location, despite one section containing a stereotypically French accordion melody. In another comedic travel program, Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (Netflix, 2017-), this accordion section is used to comedically signify the “French-ness” of a French colonial resort in Vietnam. Throughout the first season of Travel Man, much of the library music, especially tracks used in opening/closing and transitional scenes, falls within the “vintage orchestral” genre, which draws on the style of light orchestral music and studio era Hollywood film scores. In tourist activity scenes, the genres used are much more varied, highlighting Ayoade and his celebrity guest over the location. Another Audio Network track, Paris Afternoon (composed by Joachim Horsley), is used many in British television programs spanning several genres, but its repeated use in travel shows is an example of how the “vintage orchestral” genre has come to signify travel as well as travel show. The self-aware foregrounding of library music as a parody of travel programs in Travel Man demonstrates that the use of library music can be an aesthetic strategy, not just an economic necessity.

Works: Nicola Silk (series director): soundtrack to Travel Man (7-16); Rupert Clague (story producer): soundtrack to Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (12)

Sources: Bob Bradley, Adam Dennis, and Chris Egan: Travelling Circus (7-12); Joachim Horsley: Paris Afternoon (16-17)

Index Classifications: 2000s, Film

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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