Books with Music?

Hi everybody, I hope everyone’s weekend has been great. I was just curious as to people’s thoughts on books with music. I don’t really know if the idea has ever been implemented  but I am sure it has to have been talked about before. I’m not sure quite how it would work, but I had a decent idea of how to incorporate it in the ebook age. I’m guessing the technology to bring it to fruition wont’ exist for a few more years, but here’s my idea.

Music really affects how and what I write, and it also is one of the most moving aspects/benefits to watching a movie that you don’t quite get while reading a book. I am NOT saying that books can’t be as emotionally gripping as movies, or vice-versa, I am JUST pointing out that film has music, books do not. So, what would happen if you could listen to perfectly-timed music while you read? Just imagine a slowly building crescendo as the protagonist in a book makes his way into a “forbidden tower” or something, the music accenting the mood. I think it would be pretty neat, but there is always the chance that it is distracting or that it works against immersion. Let’s pretend it doesn’t. So how could we make this idea work?

Lots of people read books on their computer monitor (a horrible idea), their iPad (not horrible, but not optimal), or their Kindle (best option by far–that e-ink screen!). But what I mean to say is that many of these devices such as the iPad already have a camera in them, while the others like the Kindle could fairly easily implement a front-facing camera. I propose that it would be awesome if some simple eye-tracking software was installed, allowing the front-facing camera on an iPad to track the eye movement of the reader. Of course, it would have to be very precise, but in a few years time I think it could be possible. Then, it could loop “background” music or a musical score that wasn’t too powerful in the background while you read, and once it registers that your eyes are on the “building climax” portion of the story, it could seamlessly start to get a bit more stressful, the music building, etch. With headphones on, I think this would rock my socks off, and quite possibly the rest of my clothes as well. Think of how moving a character’s death could be if your iPad recognized that you have just read he was dead so it smoothly transitioned into a mournful score, similar to the moving move scores during death scenes.

The cost would not be cheap, because you often take much longer to read a book than you do watch a film, so there’s that hole in my plan. Plus, you’d have to get a composer who could create a soundtrack that could loop indefinitely if you were a slow reader, and yet quickly-yet-seamlessly transition to more upbeat music and so forth, so it wasn’t too distracting. Maybe John Williams or James Horner would be up to the challenge?

So what do you think? Would something like this annoy the hell out of you, break immersion, and make you hate reading? Would you be interested in trying it out? Something in between? I say, why does reading need to be a silent experience? In the meantime, why can’t authors include soundtrack playlist with their books, with a legend that says what chapter to play which song, etc. Could be pretty cool.

4 thoughts to “Books with Music?”

  1. Steve,

    I think your proposal is very creative, however, I don’t think this it would suit a person like me. When I read, I often need complete silence. There are times when I block out noise with some light instrumental background noise, but that’s on a rare occasion. While I may be apt to trying something like this one time, I don’t think I’d be comfortable having a set tune to every book I purchase. If there was an option to have an e-book with (or without) music, I would consider buying it – under the condition I could mute the music whenever I wanted. Seems like a fun idea – but do you think it’s feasible?

  2. I think that this is a really cool idea, and unless you jump on it, probably someone else will do it in about ten years. I think that also your idea could encourage people who don’t like to read to read, maybe finding it more enjoyable as a multi-faceted media experience. At the same time, I like books with pages, not online or on a pad and so I probably would not be a consumer of your product. However, if I had a kid who hated reading, I would totally get this for them because I think the novelty could encourage children to read. Similar to children’s books where you press on an icon and it makes noise (obviously your idea is much more sophisticated). You should get on this, because I am sure someone else will think of it soon. This is neat!

  3. Fascinating idea, Steve! Also, at least the playlist thing could happen immediately. You could even do one for a book of your choice as a project! I agree with Madi, it’s something you should jump on. (I’m also with Sydney in that I read silently…but if music-enhanced reading was an option, I think it’d be fantastic.)

  4. Steve, I wish I had thought of this! I love the concept and really do think someone will have a software patent out there in the near future. If we can make children’s books recordable for a mother voice, filled with tales of Disney princesses and a host of dwarfs, we can make a book set to the perfect tune. GO DO IT!

Leave a Reply