I created this album as a way to add an extra dimension to my novel Luck + Death at the Edge of the World.
Luck + Death has its own home page over here where you can find out more about it, read free sample chapters and, if you like what you see, buy the book.
But you don’t have to buy anything—if you prefer, just enjoy the free music.
Try starting at the All Tracks page. Stream a song or two to see what you think. The first few tracks are mellow, some of the later ones have more of a groove, so try jumping around a little.
If you enjoy it, feel free to go to the Download the Album page to get the whole thing or any parts of it that you particularly like.
If you want to know more about any given track, go to the numbered page for that track, where you’ll find links to related material and in some cases images and video, as well as details about the artist who created it.
How the Soundtrack Was Created
These days music isn’t always something you have to pay for. There are torrent sites where you can download music illicitly, but some artists share their work freely.
In most cases, music that’s intended to be shared will be issued under a Creative Commons license (CC for short). This means that the artist is willing to offer the music for free, but they may still control some of the ways in which it can be used. For example they may insist that they get credit if you use one of their songs (for instance in a video). Or, if you create a new piece of music from their work, they may require you to share the new music under the same CC license as the original song.
One of the things people do with CC-licensed music is use it (where the license allows) to create soundtracks for video projects, from shorts to feature-length movies. I didn’t have a movie, but I had a story, and it occurred to me that there was no reason it couldn’t have its own soundtrack.
Sifting and Selecting
Once I’d had the idea there was no way I wasn’t going to try it, so I set to work.
I listened to hundreds of CC-licensed tracks. Many, honestly, were just not very good. Others were great, but weren’t appropriate for this particular project.
I also had a certain range of sound that I wanted. In theory I was open to anything, but realistically the whole soundtrack had to hang together and it had to have some relation to the mood of the book and to the arc of the story.
In particular, I wanted to ground the whole project in Chinatown. Gat Burroughs—the protagonist in the novel—lives in Chinatown in Los Angeles. He isn’t Chinese, but he has very particular reasons for living in that neighbourhood and the local atmosphere influences my vision of Gat’s world (in Luck + Death and in related stories, where it is sometimes even more prominent).
That’s also why the pages of this site feature photographs of Chinatowns around the world—from Los Angeles, where the story is set, to Japan, Canada, and Malaysia.
I’m also a bit of a geek for Chinese traditional music, especially the erhu, which has a distinctive sound and mood. I couldn’t find any erhu music that was available under a CC license or in the public domain. What I did find while looking for it was several excellent field recordings made in the streets of Shanghai. They not only had the atmosphere I wanted for the album, but several of them had music as part of the background sound of the city.
I also ended up listening to, and sometimes including, a lot of music played on stringed instruments, some of which had an erhu-like sound, while other pieces simply helped bind the album together through the presence of the strings.
Gat’s Nightmare by CSoul actually has an erhu in the mix. Jung Jing Road by Backbeat Candy isn’t Chinese, but it features a violin that evokes a similar mood to some erhu music. And both UIFs + the Felon (by John Pazdan) and Flying Home (by Jonathan Eisenzopf) prominently feature the cello.
Each track–whether I altered it or not–is shared here under the same license that the artist originally gave it.
Please note that many of these tracks are mixes. In those cases I have credited the person who created the particular mix I used, but there may well be underlying work by other artists. There is a link to the source on each track’s individual page–clicking on that link will lead you to any material that was used in the mix.
My Own Track
I fiddled with many of the tracks in small ways. I edited some for length, sometimes adding a fade-out where a song didn’t have a suitable ending, and on one track I added some effects at the beginning and end to locate it more within the story (track 3, UIFs + the Felon).
But track 9, El Paraíso Perdido (Paradise Lost) is my own mix.
I used an instrumental track from ccMixter by Jeff Kendall called I Dunno as the spine of the song, to which I added vocals and soundscaping. You can find more details on the song’s individual page here: .
What Can You Do With The Soundtrack?
More or less whatever you want as long as you abide by the CC license that’s posted on each track’s individual page.
Listen to the soundtrack while reading the book, or listen to it without ever reading the book. Use it to create a soundtrack of your own for some other project. If you know someone you think will like it, let them know about it and they can download it too.
And, of course, part of the magic of CC licensing is remixing. You can create your own mix of any track you like (except track 11, see its license). If you do, send me a copy or a link to somewhere I can download it or stream it and (with your permission) I’ll post it on this site for other people to hear.
And… that’s enough of me talking. Go listen to a track or two on the All Tracks page and see what you think.
If you have a moment, drop me an email at email@example.com and let me know what you think.