Music and Sound Effects in Books

By Tiffany Bailey from New Orleans, USA (Abandoned Art School 81) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tiffany Bailey from New Orleans, USA (Abandoned Art School 81) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Audiobooks are gaining popularity, but sounds are making their way into ebooks as well.

Back in 2013, Google submitted a patent to trigger sounds in ebooks. According to GoodeReader, “The sounds would be triggered by events within the book, such as lapping waves, an ominous crescendo, or maybe an outdoor market. The new application would have the sounds stored on a server and would be pushed out to the eBook users are reading at the time.”

Now, the startup Booktrack, which synchronizes movie-style soundtracks with ebooks, has been busy expanding its reach. This year alone, Booktrack has partnered with Microsoft and Hachette’s Little, Brown. According to DBW, Booktrack Classroom, which is used in over 15,000 classrooms, is integrating with Microsoft 365.

The Little, Brown partnership is going to enhance all of the books from the imprint Novl, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, according to DBW and Publisher’s Weekly. They started releasing new tracks each month over the summer.

Booktrack also has Booktrack Studio, which allows indie authors to use their library of music and sound effects to create your own track for your book and sell it. This could potentially add more ambience to your story, or give authors a chance to add another layer to their work.

Sounds have the potential to be iconic and send a powerful message to your audience. Audible Range posted a story about the sounds of Star Trek, and how memorable they are:

“So many of the sounds became part of the culture,” says Kendall. “We all know what the transporter sounds like, and the phasers and the communicators. Much like actors, they had great personality and were easy to remember. The pneumatic ‘whoosh’ of the doors sliding open became a running joke in Airplane II with William Shatner.”

Storytelling can be done through music and sounds, in addition to words. In the not so distant future, it may become easier to get the licenses to use other people’s music in stories. The Open Music Initiative, a non-profit group of academic institutions, music and media industry organizations, creators, technologists, entrepreneurs, and policy experts, is working hard to figure out “open source standards and innovation related to music rights and all their associated uses,” according to Berklee.

If you’re looking to add a little extra something to your stories and want to try your hand at audio engineering, you can train your ear with SoundGym, where you can play games to improve core listening skills. Or you can just play for fun. Enjoy the holiday!

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