Reading books and listening to music are two of my favorite things to do. And yet, the combination of books and music has always been puzzling to me. Do they fit together? And I don’t mean listening to music while studying for school; I mean sitting down with a good novel with your headphones in. Some people prefer to read in complete silence. Others listen to music while reading, either to enhance the experience or block out outside distractions. Authors even look to music for inspiration. But, for those who listen to music, how do you figure out the right kind? It’s hard to listen to music with lyrics because you can start focusing on the song instead of the words of the story. And when you choose instrumental music you are then setting a tone for your reading experience so you have to be careful. Do you go with classic Bach or a rock album’s karaoke version? Is there a place for soundtracks to novels?
I usually don’t read with music because I can never create the right atmosphere. But it got me thinking nonetheless so I did the first thing I could think of, which was to turn to Google. And that’s where I discovered BookTrack. Www.Booktrack.com is a very intriguing new way to read a book. It was created in 2011 and its main goal is, “syncing music, effects, and ambient sound to text, helping your inner imagination come alive.” The website has made thousands of eBooks available, some free but most for purchase, each with a custom audio track that plays as you read. The audio tracks are crafted specifically for each book to create a whole new experience and the music automatically paces to your reading speed. So the soundtrack changes as the settings and the mood of the book change. Imagine reading the beginning of The Wizard of Oz with the sounds of the whirring winds of a tornado and racing music as Dorothy grabs Toto and runs for shelter. Well now you can actually do it. Plus, you can use the BookTrack Studio and create your own soundtrack whether you’re an author or a reader.
It’s an interesting idea.
When the company started out, a lot of people had things to say about it. Some people think it’s insulting to books. Books create wonderful worlds that you can be captivated by already, without the help of music. Other people say why not make the experience more multimedia? Especially in today’s world where we are constantly obsessing over the newest technologies and everywhere you go, people have headphones in. Because this has been around for a few years now and I am just learning about it now doesn’t bode well for book soundtracks as the “future of reading,” but I wouldn’t write it off just yet. I think there is a place for it. I think it can succeed the most in children’s novels like The Wizard of Oz or Sherlock Holmes. It can be a great way to get younger children to pay attention and immerse themselves in the world of the story. And then hopefully, they can begin to understand the magic of reading. Go check out the website and tell us what you think!
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