Nature as a Musical Mood Category

Philip Tagg

Original English version appeared under the same title as nº 8206 in IASPM Norden’s working paper series (Institute of Musicology, University of Göteborg, 1982)

View correct PDF file
Why did I land here?



This paper is part of a research project which has the grand title `The Development of Analytical Method for Investigations into the Form and Aesthetics of Popular Music'. 1 One of the general aims of this research is to research and develop analytical methods capable of increasing our understanding of the role of music in the modern mass media. This project means developing alternatives to the old intrageneric tradition of musical analysis which, according to some musicologists, should not only be seen as an obstacle in popular music studies, but also in the study of the classics.2

There is no room here to present alternative methods of musical analysis, nor does this paper contain any analyses of actual musical `texts': neither is there any discussion here of nature as musical perception. Instead, the major part of this paper deals with nature in the conception or production of music, i.e. at the transmitting end of the theoretical `transmitter → channel → receiver' chain of communication, more precisely with nature nomenclature in one particular corpus of musical material -- `mood music' or `library music' catalogues.3 Such limitation of approach and subject matter is necessary in a short presentation of such a large subject and this paper should be seen as a contribution to, rather than as an exhaustive account of, the vast topic `Nature and Music'.

The problem of music in interdisciplinary contexts

Before launching into this vast topic, it would be perhaps wise to discuss the two main terms of its title: `music' and `nature'.

One working definition of music is that it is that form of interhuman communication in which (individually and collectively) experienceable states and processes are conceived and transmitted in the form of humanly organised, nonverbal4 sound to one or more persons. The receiver(s), who may or may not be the same person(s) as the transmitter(s), are generally presumed to have acquired the sociocultural competence necessary for `decoding' the sound structures transmitted. Such decoding takes the form of culturally adequate affective, connotative and behavioural response.5 We are in other words regarding music as a symbolic system exhibiting these specific traits. (This paragraph bears reading twice).

Now, if we accept that nature is `that part of reality independent of man', that which has an `objective existence and which consists of concrete materials',6 then nature, at least thus defined, can never logically become `music', because we have suggested that the latter consists of `humanly organised sound'. The two concepts ought therefore to be mutually incompatible. However, this rather specious objection overlooks the obvious fact that man is part of nature and, as such, experiences nature -- as sound and otherwise -- subjectively, connotatively, intellectually and affectively, i.e. as a human. Through the medium of music it is possible to express, transmit and experience affective relationships to anything definite or indefinite, concrete or abstract, as long as that `anything' is perceptible in association with, but at the same time in some way structurally distinguishable from, the strictly `musical' structures. This means that the `anything' can take the form, for example, of general sociomusical stylistic conventions, as stylised sound imitation or sound effects, as perceptible representation of movement in space and time, as recognisable patterns of behaviour in the music's acoustic or social surroundings, as ritual, as a picture, as lyrics, or as some other visual, verbal, tactile or behavioural set of phenomena, i.e. as meaningful paramusical events.

In conjunction with messages at this paramusical level, the music can both express and communicate subjectively perceptible affective relationships to nature (or anything else for that matter). But such relationships between music and non-music are subjective in only one sense: for if music is a form of interhuman communication, the perceptible connotative relationship to any given phenomenon (e.g. nature) can be subjectively shared by many individuals belonging to the same cultural group or population, music thereby becoming a collectively perceptible form of connotative communication. This collectivity obviously gives the same subjectively perceived connotations an intersubjective and therefore socially objective character. This ostensible paradox is really a simple point of dialectics, a non-antagonistic contradiction that will become more lucid as we approach the description of stereotypic attitudes to nature, as expressed in the nomenclature of library music catalogues. It will also become clearer if this source material, discussed later, is given its historical context.

Historical excursion

Early rural societies

Imagine the musical equivalent of the caveman hunter-painter of Lascaux: when he uses the bone of a dead animal as a flute or makes music with the bow from which he shoots arrows to kill the animal providing him and his family with both food and clothing, he expresses a direct musical relationship between himself and nature. Through a sort of sonic magic he can both rehearse and relive acts essential to his own livelihood and that of his community. Similar acoustic-connotative relationships can be found in such events as collective chants and dances performed by pygmies preparing for an elephant hunt, with all the dangers, concentration, cooperation, timing, strength and patience that such activity must entail.7 In early agrarian society, animistic notions of ancestral spirits can be represented musically by sounds resembling distant thunder or wind in the trees. Similarly, the obviously phallic appearance of the flute or female form or drums can be used as sonic accoutrements of attitudes, feelings and behaviour on the part of the community, not only towards gender, social life and religious activities, but also towards the seasons, animals and other aspects of the same community's natural surroundings. Thus music plays an important part in the conceptual universe of such a society.

In societies like these, with limited division of labour and with relatively simple relations of production, the inhabitants are more immediately dependent, both subjectively and objectively, on close contacts with nature than we are.8 Moreover, the soundscape of such societies is not dominated by the sound of artefacts (e.g. traffic, machines, electric hum, etc.) but almost exclusively made up of nature's own sounds: weather, water, wind, animals, insects, birds, etc. The relationship here between what we call `nature' and `music' is characterised by the way in which members of those cultures (both as individuals and as collectives) themselves shape and form sounds used for preparing, rehearsing, re-enacting, teaching and learning affective relationships to the only real sonic surroundings they know -- nature -- which may admittedly sometimes threaten their livelihood but which is nevertheless their only direct source of life.

Now, talking about `nature' in the `music' of `early' rural (pre-urban or pre-industrial) society is ethnocentric in the extreme, because those living in such cultures have no reason whatsoever to use concepts which are meaningless to them. Apart from the nonsense in being called `early' when you are living in the present -- as late as can exist at any time9 -- there is also no need to call yourself `rural' or `country' if `town', `city' and `urban' are not part of your conceptual universe. Nevertheless, noting this ethnocentricity is useful because it can help us understand how `nature' can arise as a field of connotative meaning in music.

Greece and Rome

In the Iliad (xvii: 525, ff.), the syrinx is described as a typically `pastoral' instrument. This means that at least two distinct musical spheres must have existed for Homer and his listeners: `pastoral' and `non-pastoral'. For the shepherd, on the other hand, `pastoral' must have been a pretty useless term unless he came into frequent contact with music outside his own (pastoral) environment.

The privileged minority of freemen in the city states of the Greek-speaking world (800 BC - 100 AD) composed numerous pastorales10 and in the first century BC Theocritus wrote his Idylls on which Virgil was later to model his Eclogues or Bucolica, performed as mimed song.11 Both Theocritus and Virgil paint a highly stylised picture of county life and nearness to nature. Musical instruments like the syrinx12 and tenuis avena13 are presented by the literate poet and the educated musician as the social voyeur's notions of suitable aesthetic objects to symbolise the everyday life of illiterate shepherds or farm labourers.

However, it was perhaps Plato (Republic, I: 399) who made the clearest musical distinction in classical literature between town and country, recounting how a group of young, male Athenian intellectuals agreed that the shepherds should be allowed to keep their syrinxes but that music associated with such instruments unfit for use by city freemen.14

Bourgeois Europe

It is obvious that country life cannot be distinguished from city life unless `non-country' (i.e. towns and cities) exist. It seems also to follow that there can be no cultural-aesthetic distance to nature until a division of labour resulting in particular types of class division has developed to the point where one class, thanks to the labour of another, is severed both from its objective proximity to nature and from the collective subjectivity (intersubjective objectivity) inherent in patterns of culture resulting from real proximity to nature. For it is only when an environment is neither acoustically dominated by the sounds of nature nor socially dominated by peers living in a relationship of directly subjective dependence on nature that there will be any need for creating music with a distinctly `country' flavour or for distinguishing between `country music' (more than it the sense of `Country & Western') and city music. In short: the development of a class society and a clear division between town and country seem to be necessary historical precedents for treating nature as a distanced aesthetic object in music.

In this context it is interesting to compare the feudal aristocracy with the rising bourgeoisie and their respective musical relationships towards nature and country life. Simplifying matters rather drastically, it is possible to say that by the time of the renaissance, the pastoral music of the European aristocracy had largely developed into a style consisting of highly formalised and idyllised Arcadian stereotypes,15 while the rising bourgeoisie -- then a revolutionary force -- seemed to adopt the music of the agrarian community far more directly into their pastorelles, masques, comic operas, songs, dances, etc.16 In this progressive bourgeois music tradition it is difficult to find any uniform trend towards aesthetic stylisation of rural music, at least not until (a) the bourgeoisie had assumed the role of ruling class, forsaking their allies in the Third Estate, and (b) rural life had been definitely superseded by industrialised society. It was during this process of industrialisation that rural music `naturally' lost its viability, as it was stripped of its relevant social functions and cultural context and ultimately left as a bare skeleton of sound structures capable of connoting little more than a general feeling of `rurality', `old times', lost innocence' (the sort of music `we once had' and `they still have' in the country).

Such developments in bourgeois musical notions of nature became widespread in the opera houses and concert halls of nineteenth century Europe. The music of the agrarian community became stylised, heard/viewed at a distance, and stylistic elements diverging from whatever happened to be the musical mainstream of the time (e.g. drones, instrumental or melodic idiosyncrasies) were incorporated into the sonic image of bourgeois Öffentligkeit. This incorporation of historically and socially exotic musical ingredients from rural music was obviously not intended for the rural population itself who had by now become picturesque attributes and aesthetic objects in the classical symphonic and opera traditions. Instead it provided the opportunity of entertaining the bourgeois audience with suggestive general atmospheres and `impressions' of rural life. It also relegated nature to a position of nostalgic recreation or meditation (a role she still plays, as we shall see) and served as an idealised sounding board for the bourgeois soul requiring a vehicle on which to project and air various states of emotional turmoil.17 This `refunctioning' process can be seen more clearly in the three main currents of `rural aesthetics' in the nineteenth century bourgeois music tradition.

Nature aesthetics in 19th century bourgeois music

One type of bourgeois nature aesthetics is found in the nationalist trends of musical romanticism. Stylised national folklore is used as the connecting link between complex organisational hierarchies in society (e.g. industries, governments, symphony orchestras) on the one hand and the eternal qualities of Nature on the other, this allowing the notion of nation state to be effectively and affectively connected to the apparently unchanging state of the same nation's distinctive scenic characteristics.18 National `folk' music was an important link, acting as the nation's distinctive auditive scenery. Dressed up in harmonic and orchestrational Sunday best for symphony orchestras and opera house choirs, it related contemporary social order to the nation's idealised cultural heritage. These movements were particularly strong in Adorno's Randgebieten (Slavonic nations, Hungary, the Balkans, Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Spain) and introduced new, distinctively nationalist, elements to the dominant Germanic-Italian mainstream's vocabulary of pastoral or sylvan rurality. Such national-romantic means of musical expression were later to be used extensively by Hollywood.19

The second main current in nineteenth-century bourgeois musical notions of nature might be termed the `natural-philosophical'. The tonal language of this current was basically that of the Germanic classical and romantic repertoire. Now, although it is possible to hear much of Schubert's, Weber's, Schumann's, Wagner's, Brahms', Bruckner's or Mahler's music as a sort of Austro-German national romanticism, this music was, like today's Anglo-North-American middle-of-the-road rock, very much the dominant linga franca of its time. This meant that music conceived in that idiom was often perceived as `supranational' and consequently unspecific in its geographical location of rural connotations. Therefore, such `rural' music as that found in parts of Weber's Freischütz, Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique, Wagner's Rheingold, Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra or Mahler's Lied von der Erde tends to connect the quasi-universal (i.e. bourgeois and Central European) affects of the quasi-universal individual in a quasi-universal musical language with quasi-universal notions of Nature.20 This highly subjective and individualist tradition of relating to nature in music is also an important forerunner to the audiovisually acquired system of musical codes found in modern film and television music, especially when dealing with `big' scenery.21

The third main source of influence on attitudes to nature found in film and television music can be found in what might be termed the `impressionist-exoticist' trend. The most interesting ingredient here is the degree of relative independence acquired by individual, immediate sounds.22 These sounds often broke traditional laws of `good continuation' governing harmonic practices of the generation, consequence and dénouement of musical ideas. These immediate and quasi-independent wads of `now sounds' were obviously highly useful in film music situations where composition had to follow the dictates of highly `unmusical' jumps of mood in the visual and verbal presentation.23 This is perhaps why it is just as easy to find mysterious whole-tone scales or glistening impressionist arpeggios over the chord of the ninth in film music as it is to find the `big nature = big soul' heroic sounds of Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan or Ein Heldenleben.24

All these developments in the official bourgeois musical attitude towards nature occurred at the same time as other important changes in society, culture and the soundscape. These changes hit the proletariat hardest as its rural poor left the countryside in search of employment in the growing industrial sprawl, pollution and cacophony of large cities. It meant that a large proportion of the population left an acoustic environment consisting mainly of natural sounds and a social environment consisting mainly of peers living in a direct objective and subjective relationship of dependence on nature. The music which the working people brought along with them from the countryside either gradually died out in the new urban environment or else, with a few exceptions,25 acculturated with various types of gesunkenes Kulturgut and acquired new entertainment functions.26

Nature music in early film

During the first decades of the twentieth century the cinema became one of the most important musical media. Of course, it would be wrong to qualify film from that time as a musical mass medium in the strict sense, since sound could not generally be stored synchronically with recorded moving pictures until the late 1920s. However, `silent' film was rarely silent. In fact, what picture house musicians played by way of silent film music was considered such an important matter that film companies (and others) published printed lists of references to musical titles which were thought suitable for particular types of scene -- cue sheets.27 Both cue sheets and the silent film pianist's or organist's library music collections28 drew almost exclusively on the pastoral stereotypes of the bourgeois tradition when it came to matching music to film scenes of nature or country life. For example the Pastorale section of Rapée's Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists (p. 504, ff.) consists of thirteen pieces of which four are titles by relatively unknown composers in the late romantic bourgeois parlour vein.29 The other nine pieces are penned by well-known composers: Grieg's `Morgenstimmung' from Per Gynt (Op.46 Nº1) and An der Frühling (Op.43 Nº6), three of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words -- `Lost Happiness' (Op.38 Nº2), `Homeless' and `Faith' (Op.102 Nºs 1 and 6) --, three extracts from Bizet's L'Arlésienne Suite and Schumann's Träumerei. The other catalogues show similar tendencies in depicting pastorality exclusively from the nineteenth-century bourgeois musical viewpoint.

Varying moods associated with `countryside' or `nature' were in other words seldom expressed in the terms of music created by rural communities for themselves, just as rarely as films were actually made for the people by the people.30 However, the exclusion of authentic non-European or non-bourgeois musical relationships towards nature should not be seen as the result of a conscious cultural conspiracy on the part of the bourgeoisie against oppressed peoples or the betrayed Third Estate, for although this state of affairs may have reflected the current state of class relations, its direct causes can be found in the production rationale of early film. We shall enumerate four such causes:

  1. Notation was the only viable form of musical storage at the time and the only persons capable of transforming notation into sound and vice versa were classically trained musicians.
  2. The bourgeois music tradition had by 1900 become established as a relatively international set of musical idioms. Thes idioms included a rich vocabulary of internationally viable musical nature stereotypes, while the new industrial proletariat, both in the USA and other industrialised nations, had only recently left a variety of rural communities with varying local musical languages and dialects.
  3. The rural working class had no need to develop alienated or idyllised musical views of nature and as new members of the industrial proletariat they would be hard pressed to develop the `necessary' nostalgia for an environment they had often had to flee in search of a better chance for survival.31
  4. The middle classes were the main source of income during the film industry's most expansive period and the industry used music in the bourgeois tradition to attract the middle classes out of vaudeville theatres into picture houses.32

In short there was no technically, economically, socially or culturally viable music for use in the early years of the capitalist film industry other than that provided by the European bourgeois musical tradition. There was no other storable music, neither in graphic, mechanical, optical nor electronic form, neither was there any other sort of transculturally viable `nature music' other than that of the European or Euro-North-American bourgeoisie.

This historically vindicated cultural hegemony in film music was to continue unchallenged for some time. Both before and after the advent of the `talkies' (1926), Hollywood signed on the only professionals capable of producing storable music which would exactly fit the pictures, which could anticipate or underline moods and actions to the nearest eighth of a second. In such musical practice there was little room for the sort of improvisation or spontaneity which was prevalent in popular music traditions. These are the simple reasons why such figures as Korngold, Steiner, Tiomkin and Rózsa, rather than great masters of the folk fiddle or jazz cornet, were used so extensively by Hollywood.33

Now, although Indian film probably reaches a larger audience than Hollywood these days,34 there should be no doubt about Hollywood's influential role in the development of film in our own part of the world.35 It should also be clear that Hollywood -- along with European film making -- has until recently largely relied on the services of composers professionally trained in the classical tradition to provide fitting music for particular film moods,36 not least when it comes to finding music for `nature'. This film music tradition is also the basis for the connotative stereotypes of meaning found in library music collections.

Nature as a category in library music collections

Choice of material

If we want to find out more about musical attitudes to nature in modern industrial society, it would seem most logical to look at music produced by that society's music industry. There we should be able to discover all sorts of notions about nature, not only in genres like `country' music or nostalgic evergreens, but also in music for film and television. Unfortunately, popular song about `country' or `nature' has the methodological disadvantage of including words, this making the analysis of the primarily musical representation of nature an extremely complex task. Moreover, such popular song as US-American `country' music or Swedish gammaldans is often conceived in a musical language understood as `old times' or `rural' only by a relatively small cultural population. However, music for film and television enters the ears and brains of individuals in many different cultures and, with its means of expression firmly rooted in the Euro-North-American bourgeois tradition, it has been able to develop a system of musical symbols understood by the vast majority of citizens in the industrialised world. Time and time again the average listener/viewer has heard particular sorts of music in conjunction with particular sorts of visual message. Thanks to this repeated audiovisual learning process, the listener/viewer has acquired sufficient codal competence to connect certain musical structures37 with certain paramusical fields of association, such as types of personality and human interaction, objects, social or natural surroundings, gender, nationalities, peoples, professions, historical periods, places, environments, events, animals, etc., and, of course, nature itself.

Library music collections

Since the 1930s, music for film has also been available on record, being classified under various sections and provided with a reference catalogue. Such collections are usually referred to as `Library Music' or, occasionally, `Mood Music'. The idea of this sort of production is to give the producer of films, radio and TV programmes, commercials, etc. quick and cheap access to music which will fulfil specific structural functions and fit specific moods. These recorded collections of prerecorded library music were first used in film newsreels38 where openings, bridges, endings and underscore needed to be found both quickly and cheaply. More recently, library music collections have found their clientele amongst those producing educational or promotional short films or videos, slide presentations, radio shows and, of course, commercial spots.39

This prerecorded library music is not ordinary film music. It is usually specially commissioned music whose aim is to supply all thinkable types of structurally and atmospherically usable music for any number of different situations in any (mostly recorded) media production. Library music is not ordinary film music because it is not written as structural or evocative message for a particular visual or dramatic context in one particular production but written to fit different contexts in different productions. This is one reason why library music collections must base their code on well-tried stereotypes of musical affect.40 If this is so, library music collections might provide some insight into the relationship of music to nature in the modern mass media, especially considering that library music -- unlike records, concerts and even ordinary film music -- is connected at many stages of its production and communication to quite explicit levels of paramusical, mostly verbal, expression.

Library music collections usually consist of hundreds of LPs or CDs and an appurtenant catalogue or index. The collections usually classify their music according to three implicit criteria:

  1. Structural functions: e.g. introductions, links, bridges, cuts, jingles, theme sets, suites, commercials, titles, endings, tails, curtains;
  2. Genre/instrument functions: e.g. beat, known works, solos, small instruments, marches, dances, classical, jazz, pop, fanfares, vocals, synthesizer, disco, electronic;
  3. Connotative functions (mainly underscore): e.g. action, animals, big, children, comedy, crime, danger, dramatic, eccentric, eerie, fashion, foreign, futuristic, glamour, grandiose, historical, humorous, impressive, industrial, leisure, light, mystery, national, nature, neutral, open air, oriental, panoramic, pastoral, quiet, religious, romantic, sad, scenic, sea, serious, space, sport, suspense, tenderness, tension, tragic, travel, western.41

Nature as a library music keyword with connotative descriptions

This article discusses the third (and largest) of the types of categorisation just mentioned. Starting with a rough classification of these connotative functions, we shall make a few observations about the musical classification of nature. Our main sources are seven different library music collections: Selected Sounds (Hamburg), Boosey & Hawkes (London), KPM (London), Bruton Music (London), Éditions Montparnasse 2000 (Paris), Valentino (New York) and CAM (Rome). Full cross-index guides are not provided by CAM, KPM and Montparnasse and are therefore not cited in all parts of this discussion.42

Selected Sounds include nature as a keyword in their mood classifications for a category that also includes romantic and pastoral. Bruton Music connects nature not only with pastoral and tenderness but also with leisure. The Valentino company does not include nature as a keyword but has a pastoral heading for a category also containing the scenic, although big/broad expanse, romantic and travel all have their own separate headings. Nor do Boosey & Hawkes include a special nature department, although their pastoral section also contains scenic grandeur. How and why can nature be connected with tenderness, romance, big and grandeur? What does tenderness have in common with broad expanse? Why is no work, why are no small spaces connected with nature in the conceptual universe of library music? We cannot answer these questions categorically, but we might get some idea of what nature does and does not include as a musically defined semantic field by studying nature nomenclature in the library music catalogues. In order to feature in the sample shown in figure 1, the library music titles had to (1) make no reference to artefacts, (2) make no reference to human beings,43 (3) make clear reference to those parts of the environment independent of humans. These restrictions were made partly for reasons of space, but mainly in order to exclude titles incompatible with the reasonably strict verbal definition of `nature' offered at the start of this paper.

Positive evaluations

Figure 1 shows 44 titles of which 29 were accompanied by verbal descriptions containing unambiguously positive evaluations.44 These can be divided into five main categories of connotation:45

  1. visual beauty -- elegance, pretty, beautiful, picturesque, etc.
  2. calm -- peace, satisfied, leisurely, relaxed, tranquil, serene, etc.
  3. soft/sweet -- tenderness, delicacy, love, gentle, romantic, etc.
  4. light/fresh -- flowering, cheerful, clean, wholesome, healthy, lively, bright, fresh air, happy, holidays, spring, etc.

Negative evaluations

The 29 positive descriptions in Figure 1 can be compared with the following unambiguously negative evaluations connected with only 7 of the 44 titles: (i) aggressive, tense, accidents, war, fearsome; (ii) scorching, desert; (iii) painful, bare, lonely, pathetic.

Nature titles from 6 library music catalogues, showing editors' descriptions

B=Bruton (London); C = CAM (Rome); H=Boosey & Hawkes (London); N=Éditions Montparnasse (Paris); S=Selected Sounds (Hamburg), V=Valentino (New York)



Paramusical; musical description



blütenhafte Zartheit, Elegance, Mode, Träume, Zeitlupe, Pastellfarben, Erinnerung; Slowfox


Birds and Bees

großzügig, tänzerisch bis aggressiv, Fliegen, Segeln, Folklore, Panoramaschwenk, souverän, große Entfernungen, Höhen, Geschwindigkeit, Gebirge, Totale; Beat, Fox/Jazz Group, straffe Rhytmik


Birds and Fishes (2)

Gleiten, Segeln, Radfahren, Elegance, Vogelflug; (Strings), große Melodie


The Day Leaves

weite einsamme Strings, Frieden, Zeitlupe, weites Land, Meer


El arroyo

beschwingt, Kinder, Tier, Spiele, vergnügt, frühlich; Foxtrot; Gitarren + Rhytmus, unaufdringlicher, weicher Sound


Foggy Day

Impression, Abenstimmung, Landschaft; Mundharmonika + Gitarre


My Own Land

weites Land, reine Liebe, große Tierherden, heile Welt, Gebet; 6/8 Folklore



Natur, weite, erhaben; Medium Beat


Arrival of Spring

lively, exuberant; woodwind


Country Lanes

leisurely motion, pretty; woodwind


Alone With Nature

lonely, quiet, tender; woodwind


Country Dreams

relaxed, country feel; orchestral


Bird Clusters

bare, fearsome; underscore



Pretty; vibraphone



broad panorama with motion, relaxed, open air


Country Fresh



Apple Blossoms

brightness of early spring, tranquility of nature


Bad Lands

Pioneer wagon train painfully crossing a scorching desert with martial spirit of determination


Dakota Hills

Opening to a Western drama in sweeping style, concluding with a curtain


Evening Solitude

atmospheric soliloquy in quiet background style


Forest Primeval

nature study in broad style, picturesque country, large tracts



high mountain country in the Orient


Jungle Journey

forward moving exploration into new country


Morning Breezes

early morning, birdsongs, morning dew, sweet aspect of pastoral nature


Saffron and Green

national, pastoral, English rustic dance; Folk tune


Shannon Fen

national, pastoral, Irish, tranquil; Folk type modal


Horizons Unlimited

drama, scenic grandeur, awe-inspiring, endeavour, panorama, vistas


Autumn Sundown

pastoral, romantic, fresh air, neutral, nostalgic


Riverside Idyll

national, pastoral, sea/lake, English, gentle, placid, boating, yachting


The River

pastoral, romantic, clam, beautiful, tranquil



drama, foggy, lonely



désertique, dramatique, accidents


Il est loin le printemps

grave, folklore; moderato


Du soleil

gai, invocation aux vacances; moderato


Doina Danubiana

élégie, nostalgique, évocation historique



bergerette, évocation pastorale; arietta, baracarole


Pastoral carpathique

évocation nostalgique


Ballata sull'erba

agrestic, soft, archaic; flute, harpsichord, guitar


Eterna primavera

parks, villas, gardens, spring; flute, spinet, guitar


Misterio del lago

thriller, tense, dramatic; slow, long chromatic organ chords; strings; interventions by flute, wordless vocals and oboe, rolling timpani, tremolo fuzz guitar


Tramonto sul campo

patetico, recalls taptoe, adventure, war; orchestra, choir, slow, strings, trumpet call


Paese nel sole

light, airy; strings and small instruments


Gianna dell'altopiano

romantic, busy, pasotoral, serene; orchestra

Neutral descriptions

The remaining descriptions were all either neutral or evaluatively ambiguous. These `neutral' connotative descriptions (mostly found together with positive evaluations and very rarely with negative ones) can be divided into four main categories:

  1. panorama/scenic (used with 15 titles) -- grandiose, large scale, expanse, long distance, pan shots, majestic, long range, heights, mountains, totality, broad sweeps, the sea, scenery, herds of animals, broad panorama, sweeping, high mountains, scenic grandeur, panoramic grandeur, great vistas, large tracts, etc.
  2. quiet/soft/slow/old/dreams (used with 16 titles) -- archaic, dreams, meditative slow motion, pastel shades, memories, flying, sailing, yachting, gliding, flock of birds in flight, quiet, impressions, twilight, prayer, atmospheric soliloquy, placid, background, nostalgic, boating, foggy, serious, historical, airy, etc.
  3. light movement (used with 12 titles) -- dancing, cycling, children, animals, games, early morning, bird song, open air, gentle activity (rustic), bergerette,46 busy (pastoral), etc.
  4. excitement (used with the 7 negatively evaluated titles) -- pioneer, martial, determination, drama, forward moving, exploration into new country, dramatic, thriller, adventure.

It is impossible to draw any statistically reliable conclusions about library music and its attitude to nature by studying a mere 44 of the 600 odd pieces listed under the nature and pastoral headings in the seven collections used in this article. However, after listening to a large cross section of the recorded material and after checking the catalogues several times, the sample presented in figure 1 does seems far from untypical. In fact, library music collections seem to paint an overwhelmingly positive sonic picture of nature. Negative evaluations and dramatic descriptions are rare.

Figure 1: Relationship of `Nature' to other library music spheres of connotation

This impression is further substantiated by adding titles from the ethnic and national categories to the body of nature and pastoral. This addition also helps delimit the connotative sphere nature and its relationship to neighbouring and affectively `opposite' spheres of musical meaning. The total set of nature/pastoral plus ethnic/national titles, their subdivisions in subsidiary connotative spheres and the relation of these spheres to other connotative semantic fields in library music collections is schematised in figure 2. It shows that nature in library music nomenclature has three main subdivisions: (1) pastoral; (2) ethnic; (3) scenic/panoramic.

  1. The pastoral sphere includes such positive elements as `Soft', `Sweet', `Romance', overlapping in one direction with `Quiet', `Meditation', `Nostalgia', `Sadness' and in the other with `Light', `Fresh', `Happy' `Leisure', `Holiday'.
  2. The ethnic sector includes strong elements of `Nostalgia' (spilling over into `Pastoral') and `Bucolic' (spilling into the `Light', `Free', `Happy', `Holiday' aspects of `Pastoral'). It also contains an `exotic' element, including both the positive ingredient of fascination but also touching on such negative connotations as `Mystery', unfamiliarity, `Tension' and `Threat'.
  3. The scenic/panoramic area, also a separate `Nature' category in many collections, consists mainly of titles describing wide sweeps of nature (e.g. sea, hills, prairies, moors) or majestic, dramatic scenery (e.g. mountain peaks, ravines, cliffs). These subcategories often overlap partly with the `Heroic' and `Prestigious' (used frequently in promotional productions for industry),47 partly with the unknown, mysterious or threatening (e.g. storms, polar regions, deserts, jungles). However, dramatically threatening portrayals of nature do seem to be the exception rather than the rule, the most notable exception being space.

Is space nature?

By any logical natural science definition of the word, space (in the sense of the cosmos) should be part of nature. Yet none of our library music catalogues included `Space' anywhere in the vicinity of their `Nature' sections. Instead they all allot `Space' a special category which it often shares with `Laboratory', `Electronics' and suchlike, i.e. a sphere of connotative meaning diametrically opposed to the catalogues' concept of `Nature'. The distance of `Space', `Industry' and other main `non-nature' categories to the library musical field of `Nature', expressed in the unsatisfactory two-dimensional model of figure 2, raises important questions: (1) what other mood categories does `Nature' include and to what extent? (2) which other mood categories include `Nature' and to what extent? (3) which other categories exclude `Nature'? (4) which other categories does `Nature' exclude?

Crossovers between `Nature' and other categories in the Selected Sounds Catalogue (I)48.


Category description

in category

in category

% crossovers
in category

% crossovers
in `Nature'

1 Light, Gay, Happy, Light Atmosphere, Sport
2 Activity, Movement, Industry, Documentary, Heavy Sport, Mechanical Motion
3 Children, Animals, Cartoon, Circus
4 Dramatic, Crime, Mysterious
5 Electronic, Synthesizer, Space Music, Laboratory Effects
6 Grandiose, Majestic, Panorama, Meetings
7 Nature, Pastoral, Romantic
8 Melancholy, Sad, Tragic
9 Classic, Baroque, Baroque & Beat, Old Dances, Historical
12 Old Times, Nostalgia
13 Folklore, National

Nature mood overlaps

In an attempt to answer the questions just asked, I took one library music catalogue (Selected Sounds - I)49 and counted the number of `Nature' titles. I then counted the number of cited `Nature' titles also found under other headings than `Nature' in the same catalogue. Such citations of titles in more than one category are henceforth referred to as `crossovers', `crossover titles' or `Nature crossovers'.50 In order to find some expression for the amount of `Nature' in other categories and the degree of `non-nature' in the `Nature' category, I calculated the percentage of crossover titles from `Nature' into other categories and the percentage of titles under `Nature' that crossed over from other categories. Thus, the larger the percentage of crossovers into nature from another category, the greater the ingredient of that other category in `Nature' will be considered. Similarly, the larger the percentage of crossovers from `Nature' found in another category, the larger the `Nature' ingredient in that other category. Conversely, low percentages mean that `Nature' and the other category share very few pieces of music in common and that they cannot be interpreted as belonging to neighbouring spheres of connotation (figures 2, 3).

Is Nature really sad?

The most striking overlap in figure 3 is that between `Nature' (category 7) and `Melancholy / Sad / Tragic' (category 8). Four out of five `Sad' titles qualified also as `Nature' while three out of five `Nature' titles were qualified as `Sad'. This would seem to deal quite a severe blow to our earlier idea of `Nature' as an overwhelmingly positive concept in library music. However, `Sadness' categories pose a special problem, because, as one producer put it: `we don't have much call for sadness'.51 This means that the `sad' is much less common in library music than in normal film music contexts,52 because `sad' music, while an essential ingredient for any good tearjerker, is not much use to library music's clientele listening for positive vibes by which to sell products and services for go-ahead companies. This means that the Northern European library music companies hardly commission any sadness at all.53 However, when pieces are commissioned for other categories, such as `Nature', and thereafter titled by the library music editorial staff,54 some pieces are additionally classified as `Sad', especially if they are sufficiently slow, smooth and quiet. Obviously, the only really large `non-sad' category containing enough `smoothness / slowness / quiet' to come anywhere in the affective vicinity of the explicitly `Sad' section will be `Nature / Pastoral'. The only other category apart from `Nature' to lend itself to `sadness' is, according to Selected Sounds, the tiny `Religious' one: out of the total of twenty-two `Religious' -- all `calm', `old' and slow -- nineteen (all but three) were not simultaneously classified as `Sad'.

Neither `Religious' nor `Sad' are, as we already suggested, the sort of connotative fields on which library music producers base their sales and income. However, rather than miss revenue from possible usage of a title, the editors of Selected Sounds have chosen to double bill 84% of `Nature' titles under `Sad' as well, just in case someone looking for `Sad' did not have the time or imagination to look up something `pastorally lonely' under `Nature' instead.55

Nature is good

Apart from the striking exception just discussed, the crossovers schematised in figure 3 have a uniform trend. `Nature' (category 7) shares many titles in common with category 12 (`Old times, Nostalgia' -- 58%/24%),56 with category 6 (`Grandiose, Majestic' -- 55%/21%), with category 9 (`Classical, Historical' -- 52%/19%) and with category 13 (`Folklore, National' -- 35%/18%). `Nature' also shows considerable overlap with category 3 (`Children, Animals, Cartoon, Circus' -- 24%/22%) and category 1 (`Light, Happy' -- 17%/23%). On the other hand, `Nature' seems to have very little in common with category 2 (`Activity, Movement, Industry, Documentary, Heavy Sport, Mechanical Motion'), less still with category 5 (`Electronic, Synthesizer, Space Music, Laboratory Effects' -- 7%/5%) and least of all with category 4 (`Drama, Crime, Mysterious' -- 5%/4%).

Figure 4: Proportions of 'non-nature' in Selected Sounds 'Nature' category

In other words it seems as though the Selected Sounds editors view the realms of heavy industry, heavy sport, documentary reality, technology, space, crime and the laboratory as connotative opposites to nature and romance. That nature and romance are positively evaluated and their apparent opposites negatively becomes even clearer if one takes into account that the `Fresh Air', `Soft, Sweet, Calm, Rounded, Smooth', `Light, Happy, Young, Fresh' (including `Children'), `Scenic', `Nostalgia', `Religious' and `Folklore' aspects together account for 62.5% of all `Nature' overlaps, i.e. more than double the amount of crossovers in `Sad' (28.3%) and six times as many `Nature' overlaps as with the `Industrial', `Dramatic', `Heavy', `Electronic', `Technological', `Documentary', `Crime' and similar categories all put together (9.2% all told). The proportions of these crossovers are clearly visible in figure 4.57

Nature's opposite number: technology?

We have already seen a tendency to place `Nature' and `Technology' (the industrial, laboratory, electronic, space and modern aspects of library music nomenclature) at opposite ends of an imagined scale of connotative meaning ranging from 100% `natural' to 100% `artefactual'. To check the validity of this observation it is necessary to check crossovers under the technological headings of our library music catalogues. A sample of sixteen titles -- from the Selected Sounds and Boosey & Hawkes catalogues -- is shown together with the producers' piece descriptions in figure 5. To feature in the diagram, the titles should include unambiguous reference to industrial or technological concepts.

Five of the sixteen pieces are accompanied by descriptions containing positive evaluations. The `positive' concepts used are `elegant parade', `happy', `slightly comical', `dynamic', `progressive', `sunny flavour', `light' and `playful'. Eight of the same sixteen pieces are described in negative terms: `dreary trudging', `monotony', `unreal', `unpredictable', `violence', `crime', `machine-like', `tense' (several citations), `menacing', `sinister' (several citations), `spooky' and `ominous'.

Other catalogues show similar patterns. Bruton Music's futuristic - electronic category contained 72 titles of which 18 were given descriptions including some positive evaluation (e.g. `The Power Within', `bold', `suspended beauty') while 22 were described in negative terms (e.g. `endless turmoil', `ugly', `spiky', `weird', `clinical', `suspense'). 31 of the same 72 titles were described in neutral, mixed or ambiguous terms. Bruton Music's `Industry' section was slightly more cheerful: out of 64 titles, 26 were given some positive connotations (e.g. `prestigious', `proud', `purposeful', `progressive'), while 19 were uniformly negative (e.g. `panic', `tense', `mysterious', `turmoil') and 19 were given neutral or mixed descriptions.

`Industry' titles from the Selected Sounds and Boosey & Hawkes catalogues, together with producers' connotative descriptions.58




1 Beating Steel Fahrt, Industrie, Verkehr, beat Blues, rhytmisch, hart, moderne Bewegung aller Art
2 Industry Panorama Industrie in der Totale, Flugzeuge, Luftaufnahmen
3 Fire and Smoke Moderne Studie, verhalten mit rhytmischem Teil, Nebel, Abgase, mysteriös
4 Hard Work Medium beat, big band, stampfende Schwere, Industrie, Metall, schwere Bewegung, sich nähernde und entfernende Monotonie
5 Automation
(Focus on Industry)
Beat, Big Band, arbeitende Industrie, Bewegung, Representation, Großstadt, Flugzeuge
6 Lost Electron rhytmische Impression, Free Beat, abstrakt, irreal, kein durchgehender Rhytmus, doch aus Monotonics unrechenbar. Mitte: kraftvoll, kreised, Gewalt, Action
7 Dancing Neutron Beat, swinging, Drums-solo mit Piano, Monotonics, elegante Parade, Kraft, Steigerungen, Spannung, Action, jede Art Bewegung, fröhlich, etwas komisch
8 Helicopter Power Hard Beat, Big Band, modern, hart, dynamisc, Sound à la Shaft, Gitarren, Trompeten, Posaunen, Crime, Industrie, maschinell, Action, Kraft, Energie
9 Atomisation tense, menacing, research, offbeat tension with stings
10 Cyclotron tense, menacing, research, atomic, heavy machinery
11 Molecular Force tense, menacing, research, sinister, heavy machinery
12 Reactor Test tense, menacing, research, spooky, ominous, light machines
13 Countdown tense, menacing, research, sinister, heavy machinery
14 Cadmium modern, sinister progress, medium-active, progressive
15 Cams Latin-American flavour, sunny; Medium/heavy work
16 Close Weaves happy, light action, playful, light industrial activity

Similar proportions were also found on three of KPM's `Futuristic', `Electronic' and `Industrial' albums (KPM 1161-2, 1197). Out of a total of 57 titles, 12 were given clearly positive descriptions, 13 clearly negative, while the remaining 32 could be interpreted in either direction. In fact, although library music descriptions of industrial pieces tip the balance slightly in favour of negative connotations, they do not seem -- at least with one dramatic exception59 -- to paint a totally dismal view of industry. Indeed, it would be surprising if they did, since audiovisual productions for industry are the library music producers' main source of income. In short, the industrial / technological spheres of connotation seem to be evaluated both positively and negatively, though less positively than `Nature'. Let us verify this impression by checking crossovers between the crossovers in the more high-tech `Electronic' category (including `Space', `Synthesizer', `Laboratory', etc.).

A crossover analysis of the Selected Sounds high-tech category 5 (`Electronic, Synthesizer, Space Music, Laboratory Effects') shows low overlap with `Nature' (7.4%/4.5%) but extremely high overlap with another ostensibly unrelated connotative category: `Drama, Crime, Mysterious' (75%/81%). As one might expect, `high-tech' also overlaps considerably with category 2 (`Activity, Movement, Industry, Documentary, Mechanical Motion' -- 63.0%/ 29.2%). `High-tech' shares very little in common with other categories, such as `Light', `Children', `Panoramic', `Nature', `Historical', `Nostalgia', these accounting altogether for a less than 10% of all overlaps with `high-tech'.

A similar pattern of overlap applies to category 2 (`Mechanical Industry') which, like `high-tech', shares many titles in common with category 4 (`Drama, Crime, Mysterious' -- 29.2/63.0%) but very few with `Nature' (8.6%/11.4%), `Melancholy, Sad' (4.7%/8.6%), `Historical' (8.1%/8.4%), `Nostalgia' (2.1%/8.6%) and `Folklore' (4.3%/11.4%). The only striking difference of crossover profile between `Mechanical Industry' and `high-tech' concerns these categories' relation to `Light Activity'. `Mechanical Industry' overlaps to some degree with `Light Activity' (29.6%/28,2%), while `high-tech' almost fails to do so at all (3.7%/6.0%), even though high-tech activity is in physical reality far lighter than mechanical industry. Moreover, `high-tech' contains more `Sad' (14.8%/12.5%) than does `Mechanical Industry' (8.6%/7.6%). This seems to mean that `high-tech' is `sadder' and `heavier', at least in the ears of the Selected Sounds catalogue editors, than `heavy' industry.

It is also clear from these crossover counts that `Drama, Crime, Mysterious' (negative sorts of excitement) has a lot in common with `Heavy, Mechanical Industry', `Documentaries' and `high-tech' but very little to do with `Nature', at least judging from the nomenclature and description of pieces in the seven library music collections forming the basis of observations made in this article and from this more detailed study of crossovers in the Selected Sounds catalogue. In fact, remembering that library music companies rely to a large extent on public relations departments in industry as a source of their income,60 it is surprising that their collections contain so many negatively evaluated pieces of music for industrial or technological contexts and so many `positive' pieces of `Nature' music. However, whether or not library music's attitude towards nature can be considered representative of more widespread connotations held about these phenomena is a question beyond the scope of this article.61

Nevertheless, remembering our working definition of `music' and our account of conditions governing the choice of musical codes in library music, it should be possible to draw a few conclusions from this study of nature nomenclature and descriptions.


From the material discussed in this article, it is possible to put forward the following theories about `Nature' as an area of musical connotation.

  1. Nature is intimately connected with such adjectives as
  2. pastoral, ethnic, bucolic, scenic;
  3. calm quiet, serene, peaceful;
  4. romantic, tender, gentle, soft, sweet;
  5. sad, melancholy, meditative, archaic, nostalgic, religious;
  6. wide, broad, spacious, expansive;
  7. fresh flowering, young happy, healthy.
  8. Nature is to some extent connected with such adjectives as
  9. impressive, grandiose, dramatic;
  10. exotic, unknown, mysterious.
  11. nature has very few connections with such concepts as
  12. industry, technology, science, atomic, electronic, mechanical;
  13. laboratory, research, automation;
  14. crime, violence, turmoil, tense, hard, fast;
  15. modern, traffic, parade, dynamic, enterprising, progressive;
  16. menacing, sinister, ominous.
  17. Nature's affective poles of opposition are in technology, in space, in science and in other aspects of advanced civilisation and industry. These latter areas are mainly viewed as negative areas of experience, associated with tension, threat, violence and crime, the objectively progressive and subjectively prestigious or enterprising aspects being outweighed by negative connotations involving fear.

If the collective musical conscious of our culture is dominated by this sort of attitude towards nature and technology, it means there is a general consensus of mistrust towards scientific progress. And if we still define nature as `that which is independent of man and his civilisation', then civilisation, including the humans populating it, will be alienated, not only from civilisation, but also from nature, which they thereby relegate to the idealised position of an exploitable resource for recreation on conditions determined by the civilisation in which they are alienated.

However, instead of this rather destructive sort of self-alienation -- a suicidal strategy related to the general schizophrenia of our society in which mind and matter, natural science and human nature, public and private, verbal and nonverbal, work and leisure, etc. are all treated as watertight compartments -- its seems wiser to advocate the conceptual reincorporation of man and human civilisation, including technology, into nature. We are, after all, the animals that affect it most radically and we are just as dependent on it and part of it as we ever have been or are likely to become.

Obviously, such reincorporation cannot take place without some radical changes in political structures governing the development of technology; for if the democratic majority remains powerless, alienation will continue and there will be no subjective reason for most people to exchange feelings of fear or mistrust against technology for hope, involvement or confidence. This process would be dialectic and there is a pressing need for radical change not only in politics and economy but also in our culture and its conceptual patterns. Such changes would include a realignment of musical attitudes towards man, science, progress and nature. For we are still presented with outmoded stereotypes of musical misapprehension which pound the same old emotional attitudes and patterns of behaviour into our heads: that there are only individual heroes, no collective ones;62 that women are innocent, romantic, beautiful or sensual and never purposeful;63 that men are strong and purposeful, never sensual, romantic or beautiful;64 that nature is peaceful, pastoral, ethnic or scenic, rarely menacing or murderous; that scientific progress is dangerous, violent and inhuman, rarely human (!), reassuring or hopeful.

Musicologists could, if they wanted, play a part in this process of `de-alienation', `de-schizophrenisation' and reintegration. Indeed, since we are supposed to be `verbal' and `systematic' about such an obviously nonverbal system of human symbols as music, we are in the envious position of being able to break the taboos of cultural schizophrenia in the course of our job. In fact, is it not the responsibility of musicology to shine some light on the murky waters of the public subconscious and to show where this culture's really deep-seated notions are stored and how they are communicated? This article is intended as a small twinkle in that dark.


Anderson, Gillian B. Music for Silent Films 1894-1929. Washington, 1988.

Berg, Charles M. An Investigation of the Motives for and Ralization of Music to Accompany the American Silent Film, 1896-1927. New York, 1976.

Boosey and Hawkes -- see Cavendish.

Bruton Music - catalogue. London: Bruton Music, n.d.

Cavendish Recorded Music for Film, Radio Television. London: Boosey and Hawkes, 1979.

CAM - album sleeves CAM 001-074, PRE 1-9. Roma: Creazione artistiche musicale, n.d.

KPM Music Recorded Library. London: Keith Prowse Music, n.d.

Eisler, Hanns. Composing for the Films. London, 1947.

Magnusson, Per-Åke, Lundqvist Thomas. Psykologiska aspekter på musikupplevande. Lund (Institutionen för tillämpad psykologi) 1979.

The Major Mood Music Library Catalog. New York: Thomas J Valentino Inc., 1972.

Manvell, R; Huntley, J; Arnell, R; Day, P. The Technique of Film Music. London & New York, 1975.

Miceli, Sergio. La musica nel film. Arte e artigianato. Firenze, 1982.

Montparnasse 2000 `Illustration sonore' (production 1970-74). Paris: Éditions Montparnasse, n.d.

Osgood, C E; May, W H; Miron, M S (1975). Cross-Cultural Universals of Affective Meaning. Urbana, 1975.

Pauli, Hansjörg. Filmmusik: Stummfilm. Stuttgart, 1981.

Porcille, François. Présence de la musique à l'écran. Paris, 1969.

Rösing, Helmut. Musikalische Stlisierung akustischer Vorbilder in der Tonmalerei. Salzburg, 1977.

Schafer, R Murray. Creative Music Education. New York, 1976.

Schmidt, Hans-Christian. Filmmusik für die Sekundar- und Studienstufe. Kassel, 1982.

Selected Sounds Recorded Music Library. Hamburg: Selected Sounds, n.d.

Tagg, Philip. Kojak: 50 Seconds of Television Music. Göteborg 1979.

-- (ed) Film Music, Mood Music and Popular Music Research. Göteborg, 1980.

-- On the Specificity of Musical Communication. Göteborg 1981.

Tagg, Philip and Clarida, Robert. Ten Little Title Tunes. Liverpool, forthcoming.

Tarasti. Eero. Myth and Music - A Semiotic Approach to the Aesthetics of Music, especially that of Wagner, Sibelius and Stravinsky. Helsinki, 1978.

Thiel, Wolfgang. Filmmusik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Berlin (Ost), 1981.

Valentino -- see Major

1. `Utveckling av analysmetoder för undersökningar rörande populärmusikens form och estetik'. Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR).

2. See Rösing 1977, Tarasti 1978.

3. We use the term `mood music' (also known as `library music', `catalogue music', `musique de sonorisation', `musique d'illustration sonore', `Archivmusik', `musica di sonorizzazione', etc.) as opposed to music composed specifically for one audiovisual production, to refer to collections of prerecorded music, usually on LP or CD, produced in anticipation of film, TV and radio production needs and systematised according to the music's moods and functions. See Tagg 1980.

4. Of course, words do occur as part of music, e.g. in song. However, since words can exist without music (unless one considers intonation and speech rhythm as `music') and music can exist without words, we keep the `nonverbal' factor in our definition of `music'

5. For more detailed discussion of the specificity of musical communication, see Tagg 1981b.

6. Definitions from The New Collins Concise English Dictionary, London 1982.

7. Music of the Ba-Benzélé . Bärenreiter/Musicaphon BML 30L 2303.

8. Of course, we are equally dependent on nature for our survival. Our dependence is merely not so immediately tangible.

9. `Early' is just as culturally relative a concept as `primitive', though a good deal less cynical.

10. e.g. Steisichorus' βουκολικα μελη, Didoros Sikolos, Hesychios.

11. See `Pastorale' in Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians 1979.

12. Flute instrument, often, though not necessarily, pan pipes.

13. Virgil: Eclogues I.1.2., X.1.51.

14. i.e. η πολις, the title of Plato's work, = `The City' or `The City State'.

15. See Squarcialupi Codex (1425) for caccias and madrigals. See also Lully's Les fêtes de l'Amour et de Bacchus or Armide.

16. Here we are referring to the whole bourgeois music tradition with roots in rural popular music, i.e. from Adam de la Halle's Le jeu de Robin et Marion, Susato's Danserye, folk song arrangements in The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, etc., right up to The Beggar's Opera, the German Singspiel, etc.

17. See Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (1806). 1st movement: `Erwachen heitere Gefühle bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande'. Beethoven also writes that the symphony is to be interpreted as `mehr Ausdruck der Empfindung als Mahlerey'. See also Mendelssohn's Meerstille und glückliche Fahrt (1832) and, of course, Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique (1830). Berlioz's programme for the movement reads: `un soir d'été à la campagne, il (`jeune musicien d'une sensibilité maladive et d'une imagination ardente')'... [what else?]... `entend deux pâtres qui dialoguent un Ranz des Vaches; ce duo pastoral, le lieu de la scène, le léger bruissement des arbres doucement agités par le vent, quelques motifs qu'il a conçus depuis peu, tout concourt à rendre à son c?ur un calme inaccoutumé, à donner à ses idées une couleur plus riante; mais elle'... [la bien-aimée disparue, who else?]... `apparaît à nouveau, son c?ur se serre, de douleureux présentiments l'agitent, si elle le trompait... L'un des pâtres reprend sa naïve mélodie, l'autre ne répond plus. Le soleil se couche... bruit éloigné de tonnerre... solitude... silence...'

18. e.g. Smetana's Ma Vlast (1879), Janacek's Taras Bulba (1918), Mussorgsky's Night on a Bare Mountain (1869), Borodin's On the Steppes of Central Asia (1881), Grieg's Per Gynt, etc.

19. It should be noted that Rapée includes more pieces by Grieg in his Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists (1924) than by any other composer and that most of those pieces are explicitly related to weather, time of day or countryside, i.e. to nature.

20. See, for example, Nietzsche's Zarathustras Vorrede, included as introductory programme guide to R. Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra (1896) or Baethge's translation of ancient Chinese poems in Mahler's Lied von der Erde (1911).

21. `On a vu naître une sorte de langage musico-cinématographique alliant les moins recommandables des recettes wagnériennes (n'oublions surtout pas la formidable prédominance de l'élément germanique en Amérique dans la corporation des compositeurs de films) aux suavités pseudo-débussyistes'. (Maurice Jaubert, quoted in 1937 by Porcille 1969: 43-44). Similarly: `social tendencies to amalgamation of traditional cultural values [have] become commodities. Such tendencies were operative in Wagner's music drama, and in the symphonic poems of Liszt and Strauß; they were later consummated in the modern motion picture as the amalgamation of drama, psychological novel, the dime novel, operetta, symphony concert and revue.' (Eisler 1951: x). `Mountain peaks invariably invoke string tremolos punctuated by a signal-like horn motifs. The ranch to which the virile hero has eloped with his sophisticated heroine is accompanied by forest murmurings and a flute melody. A slow waltz goes with a moonlit scene in which a boat drifts down a river lined with weeping willows'. (Eisler 1951: 13).

22. i.e. instrumental, orchestral or individual harmonic sonorities which almost became self-sufficient or static, e.g. Debussy's famous whole-tone scales or strings of parallel `dominant' sevenths with no subsequent `tonics'. The sort of works we are referring to here are Debussy's L'après-midi d'un faune (1894) and La mer (1905); Ravel's Daphnis et Chloë (1912) and Boléro (1928); Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (1913) and Firebird (1915).

23. Pauli 1981.

24. For discussions of hero stereotypes in music, see Tagg 1979: 123-132. 134-137.

25. The `exceptions' implied here are such bodies of music as miners' songs from North-Eastern England (see A. L. Lloyd Come all ye Bold Miners, London 1978; D. Harker `The Making of the Tyneside Concert Hall' in Popular Music, 1: 27-46, 1981). Compare urban blues traditions in the USA in C. Keil: Urban Blues (Chicago 1966); L. Jones: Blues People (New York 1963); C. Gillett Sound of the City (London 1971).

26. e.g. Country (& Western) music, Scandinavian old-time dance music (gammaldans), music hall, Gassenhauer, etc.

27. See Pauli 1981: 85, ff.

28. i.e. large volumes containing the printed music of hundreds of titles, e.g. Zamencik (1913), Lang/West (1920), Becce & Erdmann (1927) and Rapée (1924) (see Pauli 1900: 100, 148). For details on British film pianist Arthur Dulay's Musical Suggestions, see Manvell et al. 1975: 38. For Gabriel-Marie's similar Collection Drama, see Porcille 1969: 46-48.

29. These pieces are: Theodora Dutton's Walser appassionato (con grazia e passione), Ludvig Schytte's Le soir (allegro moderato e cantabile, op.12 nº3), Louis Gregh's Repose (Op.53) and Ole Olsen's Serenade (andante, op.19 nº2). Together with the other pieces cited in the main body of text there are no more pieces in Rapée's pastorale section.

30. Indeed, indigenous Americans had to wait until A Man Called Horse (1970) before Hollywood deigned to use authentic Indian music along with pictures of Amerindians and Amerindian culture.

31. See M Haralambos Right On! From Blues into Gospel (Edison Bluesbooks, London 1974) for convincing account of why `down-home' rural music was discarded amongst urban blacks in the USA during the late fifties and throughout the sixties: connotations of shame, backwardness and poverty and slavery did not fit the agenda of the Black Power movement.

32. Pauli 1981: 77-83.

33. Before becoming the most prolific composer of the Hollywood golden era, Viennese composer Max Steiner had studied under Fuchs and Mahler. Before his debut as (`classical') concert pianist in the USA and before his subsequent move to Hollywood, Tiomkin studied under Glazunov in St. Petersburg. After conservatory studies as classical violinist in Budapest, Rózsa studied composition with Honegger before going into films. There is little doubt that underscores were mainly couched in the language of European classical music during Hollywood's formative years, cf. Anderson 1988: xxiv-xxxii, C Berg 1976: 101-170, Miceli 1982: 40-73, Pauli 1981: 104-112, Schmidt 1982: 14-35, Thiel 1981: 121-137, etc.

34. This is because the main audiences for Indian film are in the `third' world.

35. See Tapio Varis The Impact of Transnational Corporations on Communication, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Report nº 10, 1975 and J Tunstall The Media are American, London 1977: 289-291.

36. See footnote 33 for Hollywood. For Europe, cf. Jarre, Delerue, Sarde, Morricone, Rota, Henze, etc.

37. Elsewhere such structures are referred to as `musematic' (`musemes', `museme stacks', `museme strings': see Tagg 1979: 68-79, 102- 154; 1981a: 15-34).

38. Tagg 1980: 17.

39. See interviews with library music producers in Tagg 1980: 5-44.

40. However `musically' interesting innovation or experimentation might be in other contexts, library music collections cannot use musical code based on ambiguity or originality because the music must sound to its users more or less like what the catalogue claims it `is'. Moreover, since `Musik schnell gefunden' is one of the library music companies' main selling arguments, `interesting' `ambiguities' are out of the question. Library music collections cannot in other words be expected to contribute to the renewal of musical codes in our culture! This was underlined by Robin Philips of Bruton Music (London) and Terry Moss of Boosey & Hawkes (London) in interviews with the author (Tagg 1980: 5-44).

41. These categories, sorted alphabetically, are basically a non-repeated mix of categories used in the Boosey & Hawkes, Selected Sounds and Valentino library music collections (see list of references).

42. Boosey & Hawkes also have a sea/lake category. Its titles are similar to the watery titles (but no babbling brooks) found mainly under the broad expanse, scenic and drama headings in other catalogues.

43. Yes, there is one exception: Gianna dell' altopiano. This is an error for which we apologise.

44. The criteria for qualifying as `positive', `negative' or `neutral' are not scientific and readers are at liberty to find `beautiful' negative, `war' positive and `cheerful' neutral, if they so wish. Seriously, though, as a member of this culture, I feel as qualified as the next person to make reasonable judgements on this count. If I had been in doubt I would have consulted Osgood et al. 1975: 249, ff.

45. Connotative categories expand to a twenty page taxonomy in forthcoming work by Tagg & Clarida.

46. Cf. bergère (= shepherdess, i.e. pastoral), bergeronnette (= pied wagtail, a cheerful little bird!).

47. See Tagg 1980: 6-7, 13- 16, 18, 27 for interviews with producers of library music.

48. Nº titles in category = total number of titles classified in each given category. Nº of crossovers in category = number of titles in each category also classified in category 7 (`Nature'). % crossovers in category = share (in %) of titles in each category also classified in category 7 (`Nature'). % crossovers in `Nature' = share (in %) of titles in category 7 (`Nature') also classified in each other category. For example, there are 244 titles in category 1 (`Light', `Happy', etc.) of which 41 (17%) are also classified under category 7 (`Nature'). 41 of the 176 `Nature' titles are also found in category 1, (23% of titles in category 7). In the subsequent text, crossover rates are usually expressed as two percentage values separated by a slash (`/'), e.g. 47%/23% means, applied to column 1, that 17% of all titles in category 1 (`Light, Happy', etc.) are also classified as `Nature' under category 7 and that 23% of all titles in category 7 (`Nature') are also found in category 1 (light, happy, etc.). The following categories were excluded from Fig. 3 because they were of genre or structural function type: 10. Jazz - Oldtime - Modern Classic; 11. Dance Music - Dance Hall - Happy Music - Foxtrot - Waltz - Latin Swing; 14. Intros - Endings - Cuts - Effects - Jingles - Commercials - Advertising - Fanfares; 16. Solo or featured instruments - Percussion - Special small groups. The following categories were excluded since they included too few titles to be statistically reliable: 15. Religious; 18. Fashion.

49. I used Selected Sounds because it was the smallest library music catalogue to which I had access; also because it has an `at a glance' schematic presentation. However, the aura of efficiency in title classification expressed in the collection's cross index guide is to some extent misleading, since the relation between musical material and connotative description is often less convincing in Selected Sounds than that of its competitors.

50. `Crossover' is a term borrowed from the world of record chart compilation and is used when referring to a hit that passes from one chart into another or that features in two charts at the same time (e.g. both rock and country).

51. Robin Philips of Bruton Music (Tagg 1980: 23).

52. Compare the CAM library music collection which includes a far greater amount of music originally written for feature films than any other collection and which therefore contains a greater proportions described as patetico, sad, tragic, etc. than the Anglo-American or German catalogues.

53. For comments on differences between Northern and Southern European library music, see Tagg 1980: 23.

54. cf. Tagg 1980: 40-43.

55. For comments on this multiple citation strategy to obtain more usages, see interview with Terry Moss of Boosey & Hawkes, discussing that company's mammoth and unsorted drama section (Tagg 1980: 40-43).

56. These percentages mean that 58% of tunes in the old times - nostalgia category are also in the nature category and that 24% of tunes in the nature category are also in the old times - nostalgia category.

57. Figure 4, stack A (62.5%): category 1 (light, gay, happy, light atmosphere, light sport, fresh air, etc.) + category 3 (children, animals, cartoon, circus, etc.) + category 6 (grandiose, panoramic, scenic, etc.) + category 9 (classical, historical, etc.) + category 12 (old times, nostalgia, etc.) + category 13 (ethnic, folklore, national, etc.) + category 15 (religious). Figure 4, stack B (28.3%): category 8 (melancholy, sad, tragic). Figure 4, stack C (9.2%): category 2 (activity, movement, industry, documentary, heavy sport, mechanical motion, etc.) + category 4 (dramatic, crime, mysterious, etc.) + category 5 (electronic, synthesizer, space music, laboratory effects, etc.).

58. Title nos. 1-3 are taken from `Ruhrgebiet -- Suite moderne für Big Band'. Title nos. 9-13 are taken from `Atomic Power Montage Suite'. Titles 1-8 Selected Sounds; 9-16 Boosey and Hawkes.

59. See CAM LP 025. The CAM collection's penchant for the dramatic is not so much due to `Latin temperament' as to the fact that it is the only catalogue which uses music originally composed for feature films to such a large extent.

60. Tagg 1980: 6-7, 13-16, 18, 27.

61. How nature can be conceived in music outside the world of library music catalogues and outside the world of mass media music or of professional musicians is obviously impossible to discover without extensive research. However, some hints at how nature might be conceived by musically interested amateurs are presented in the two examples below.

[Example 1] R. Murray Schafer (1976: 165-166) was teaching a summer course of amateur musicians in the early seventies. The course was split into groups, each consisting of persons ranging form the age of six to sixty. The groups were asked to make a collective composition based on `the sounds of nature', without using instruments. Their first efforts tended to consist of different variations on the moo-moo, bow-wow, oink-oink, tweet-tweet, baa-baa and quack-quack themes. They were sent back to do something better. One of the groups came back with a composition starting in silence. `Then the wind slowly increased from gentle to gale force, rain started to fall -- first as scattered drops, then more continuously and intensively. Finally the storm abated, the rain dribbled away and the birds began to whistle their high-pitched, inscrutable melodies.' (Cf. order of events in Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, R. Strauß's Alpensymphonie, as described in reception tests conducted by Rösing, n.d.).

[Example 2] This illustration is taken from a postgraduate seminar at the Gothenburg University Musicology Department in the early eighties. A psychologist from Lund, P-Å Magnusson, read aloud for the seminar what a patient had said while listening to a particular piece of music under hypnosis. (The instructions to the patient had been to say what the music made him/her see, like in a daydream. This and other experiments are described in Lundqvist & Magnusson, 1979). The seminar knew neither the identity of nor anything else about the piece of music which had given rise to the hypnotised patient's associations. These were recounted by Magnusson, roughly as follows. `Alone, out in the countryside on a gently sloping field or meadow near some trees at the top of the rise where there was a view of a lake and the forest on the other side' -- a very Scandinavian pastorale! Using this information only, the seminar was then asked to make a rough score of the sort of music they thought might have evoked such associations on the part of the patient under hypnosis. The seminar's sketch consisted of high notes (perhaps flageolets) sustained in the violins and a low pedal point in the cellos and basses. These two pitch polarities were in consonant (either octave or fifth) relation to each other. A rather undecided, quiet but slightly uneasy figure was put into the viola part now and again, while a solo woodwind instrument (either flute, oboe or clarinet) played a quasi-modal legato melodic line which wandered slowly and slightly aimlessly piano over the rest of the almost static sounds (pianissimo). The seminar's quick sketch proved to correspond on many counts with the original musical stimulus -- the taptoe from Vaughan Williams' Pastoral Symphony. This latter experiment shows that persons with a reasonable knowledge of music, yet without experience of composition, are able to conceive generalities of musical sound structure affectively related to given spheres of association, not merely to perceive them. In both experiments nature appears to be something basically calm and quiet and slow, containing both pleasant and unpleasant ingredients. There is no definite evaluation, neither positive nor negative, of nature in either example. The storm in the first example might be the result of the amateur musician's self-inflicted pressure to entertain with a composition in dramatic form. In any case, this sort of experiment might also be used to find out more about connotative concepts current in our culture.

62. cf. Tagg 1979: 123- 131, 143-146, 231.

63. cf. Tagg & Clarida, forthcoming.

64. ibid. These gender stereotypes were also accounted for in radio programmes made for AVRO radio under the title Muziek maakt alles mooier, Hilversum, 1988 (producer G. Kempers).