WORDS FOR MUSIC FOR FILMS
Written accompaniment for Brian Eno's classic album
Background for Music for Films
The initial release of Brian Eno’s album Music for Films was in 1976. It was a small run of only 500 copies and was distributed to film and television production houses. The hope was to find a home for some of the orphan tracks from Brian Eno’s earlier recording projects, as well as find new uses for tracks from Another Green World (released in 1975) and Evening Star (1975), and the music he had written for the play Sparrowfall and the Derek Jarman film Sebastiane. The album was also intended to increase his exposure to screen producers and advance him as a composer for soundtracks.
The album was successful in its purpose. Eno has reported that one track has been used over 25 times and others continue to appear in film and television productions.
It had a second life as a general release in 1978, but with fewer tracks. This site is based on the subsequent Editions EG reissue in 1978, in which the tracks were re-ordered by Brian Eno into his preferred sequence. This version has since been re-released on CD (1987) and a re-mastered edition was released in 2005 by Virgin/Astralwerks. Today you can still buy it in vinyl, CD and digital formats. Thanks Wikipedia and David Sheppard.
Rationale for Words for Music for Films
I have listened to Music for Films by Brian Eno a lot. Not just through iTunes while writing these pieces, but on the CD I ripped into iTunes three or four computers ago, on a 45 minute home-taped cassette clicking over endlessly within an auto-reversing Walkman, and on vinyl picked up from a secondhand record store in Sydney. I didn’t know who Brian Eno was when I bought it, I was just hungry for anything that looked different, anything that was new and unfathomable to me.
How many times have I listened to it? It would be in the thousands. iTunes reports that I have listened to one track 561 times in the two and half years I have owned this computer. Almost all of those listens would have come while writing the piece accompanying the track as it played on repeat in the background.
When the title Words for Music for Films popped into my head I knew I had found a great little project. I loved the album. The tracks were all short, half of them under two minutes. Using the standard speaking rate for voice overs of three words per second of audio, the longest piece would be just 762 words. I would stick to those word counts. It would be a tasty, easily achieved challenge. As a copywriter, hitting exact word counts and fitting story and structure into very tight places was what I did every day.
So I set to work in 2012. Yeah. I took three years to write 7,367 words. That’s like 7 words a day. I’ve got some good excuses. Work. Kids. The roller coaster we’re all strapped into sent me down a couple of drops and a loop. I lost months here and there to procrastination and other writing projects. What time was left I burned through dredging up ideas and stories that were attuned to each track.
Turns out there is a lot of rubbish in my head. The bedrock is no doubt all the pulp sci-fi I read as an adolescent (thanks grandma). On top of that is a dense yet porous strata of thick books that a twenty-something stoner wannabe-intellectual fascinated by literature and enlightenment might read. Closest to the surface, submerging everything, is a sticky layer of quicksand, a soup of orphaned fragments that has accumulated since the internet blessed our lives.
I worked through it all like a picky seagull at the dump and now I’m done. I hope it brings a few people a couple moments of enjoyment before the inevitable conversation with UMG about “fair use” shuts it down.