March 4, 2015 Last Updated 11:08 am

Jordi Savall’s latest CD Book project: Guerre et Paix

Digital publishing affords creative publishers a chance to rethink all the publishing formats, including creating new, hybrid publishing products that are cross-platform

The CD book format is really as widely used format. Few artists combine music with a book and create something new and exciting. One a year TNM writes about one of the latest releases from the great Jordi Savall in hopes that someone will read the story and it will serve to ignite their imagination.

GP-Savall-coverSavall is a Catalan viol player, conductor and composer, with a career that goes back to the ’60s. I believe I have an LP where Savall is a member of the ensemble. He formed his own ensemble Hespèrion XX in 1974. (I own over 100 CDs from the master.)

His latest project is called Guerre et Paix and like many of his CD book projects, explores a certain time period – in this case, 1614 to 1714, a period of tremendous conflict in Europe. The book portion of Guerre et Paix is 394 pages in length, though because it includes six languages, the actual content is closer to 50 pages or so. There are two music CDs, each are Super Audio CDs so that owners of better disc players can enjoy higher fidelity. Despite all this, the price for the package is no more than what one might expect for a standard 2-CD set: 28 € from Savall’s own label, Alia-Vox.

A project such as this one is unlikely to be commercially successful in the sense of a pop music release. Because of this, CD books, especially for classical music need to be underwritten. This project was assisted by the Edmond de Rothschild foundations.

As TNM is not a music website, reviewing the music is outside our focus – though it should be noted that both the playing and sound quality of the recording are, as usual, brilliant.

Savall has a tremendous advantage over most artists when creating a project such as Guerre et Paix: he is the artist, he owns the label, his reputation is of a world-class musician and conductor, and he can build his projects around a series of themed concerts that allow for rehearsals, adaptations, refinements, and he most likely has the connections necessary to find financial support for his projects.

Savall-150On the other hand, the typical publisher would need to secure the rights to either the written content and/or the musical content, and find a way to produce a new product in a way that makes economic sense.

I tried to tackle this myself when I created a music eBook for a small, independent label back in 2013. I created a text project using iBooks Author and called the owner of the label to see if they were interested in a partnership to create similar projects. Unfortunately, the owner was so distraught about the state of the music business that he would not even download the eBook file (though he initially said he would) to look at this new, hybrid work. (It may have been simply that he was about to lose the artists after many years.)

Jordi Savall is now 73 years old, and I am hopeful that Guerre et Paix is not the last such project he undertakes. But if it is, it would truly be a same if no music label, no publisher, no artist, continues to produce similar hybrid projects. Guerre et Paix is one of a dozen such CD books I own sitting on by book shelf. Savall’s new ventures give me a reason to still buy physical media – but a similar project, one that is all digital, might be even more interesting as it could involve video, as well as audio – and it, too, would spur me to get out my credit card.

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