Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tailored Musical Accompaniment While You Read: Yay or Nay?

(For those wondering about proof-reading and making sure your posts are in tip-top shape before you hit "Publish" -- I use Grammarly's grammar check because let's face it: bad grammar is like cold coffee. We all know how great it could be but, alas, the coldness ruins any chance of it.)

Being an avid reader and an eternal music lover, I’ve always been intrigued with any kind of idea that combines the two of these things. With technology becoming more advanced and an app for nearly anything you can think of, I wonder how close we are to marrying these two loves of mine seamlessly.

One way this seems to be happening is through author playlists. Many authors compile playlists filled with songs that fit their books theme or mood. Popular ways to display these lists seems to be to just list on a webpage (Katie McGarry example), YouTube listings (Cassandra Clare example), Spotify (My own personal example!), Grooveshark (Mindee Arnett example) or music actually created by the author (Maggie Stiefvater example).

But what if there was an app or program that could go deeper than this? I recently stumbled upon this App called Atmosphere:

It apparently is supposed to work with your ereader in that it will analyze the text and look for keywords to help it select music to set the mood of the scene you are reading. It also will base its selection on your own musical preferences. And guess what? As you are reading it already starts analyzing the text on the next page and cuing up another song to fit with it. If you are really digging the music it selects, you can also purchase it right from the app.

Now, all practicality aside, I think it is pretty sweet that an app can analyze words and suggest music based on them. Will it work precisely right? Who knows. I guess I would have to try it out. It looks like there are options though where you can set preferences like “orchestral scores only” or “author’s picks” – which is where the author playlists would probably start to become more relevant.

The app is only available to Apple users at the moment and only has 10 ratings – so this isn’t some mind-blowing discovery here. But knowing someone has started to think about this and apply it for an app on your phone makes me believe that there will be a more advanced and finely-tuned app like this in the future.

Being a writer takes a lot of creativity and I believe a lot of writers have a strong connection with music whether as a separate interest or one they combine with their writing time. It’s only a matter of time until we start seeing writing and music going hand-in-hand more often. A friend of mine, Kelsey Macke, is already pursuing this combination on her upcoming release DAMSEL DISTRESSED.

Kelsey is so super cool that not only is she going to be a published author soon but she’s also in a band with her hubby called Wedding Day Rain. While planning the band’s debut record, they found that several of the songs they had written really felt like they told the same types of story that is found in DAMSEL DISTRESSED.


And so, a unity between the two was formed.

When readers read DAMSEL DISTRESSED, as they go, they will find artwork throughout the book that conceals QR codes. Readers with mobile devices or tablets can then pull up a special page that will allow them to listen to the music in the places where the songs have been designed to enhance the mood or scene they've just read. (If they're not into QR codes, the website will still be accessible for them through their computers too!)

The music is an extension of the story, though both components can (and probably will) be consumed without the other. To find out more about this yummy mix of prose and music, visit her book’s site at !

I personally think this could be a great thing. I would probably not be able to listen to anything other than instrumental or really low key acoustical/singing while reading though. Anything else gets too distracting for me. However, I do think it would super sweet to have the songs embedded in the areas of the book at the author’s choosing that you could actually stop and listen to before or after the scene that they represent. I know that I have certain songs I relate heavily with certain scenes in my own writing, so why not share that connection with readers and hit them on two different levels?

So what do you think? Would the written word be enhanced if related music could be suggested and/or listened to while reading?

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