A Fresh Take on Italian Library Music by Four Flies


A Fresh Take on Italian Library Music by Four Flies

Vintage Italian library recordings, cinematic themes, and 60s/70s soundtracks get a new life through Four Flies, a record label founded in 2015 by Pierpaolo De Sanctis. Music archaeology at its best: they unearth long-lost recordings to preserve the music—also by allowing producers to sample and give their own spin on their rich library. As explained in this short conversation with Four Flies' Elena Miraglia.




June 2, 2021

Hunting down long-forgotten master tapes sounds like getting to interesting places and meeting interesting musicians…

Definitely! What we do is kind of like being a detective who’s trying to solve a mystery. You never really know in advance the places you'll end up going, the people you'll meet and the stories they’ll reveal to you. We’ve had to rummage through basements where master tapes were “stored”—so to speak—in moldy cardboard boxes, among dusty wine bottles and all kinds of junk.

But we’ve also been to attics where, instead, the tapes were carefully arranged on shelves, labeled and cataloged in alphabetical or chronological order. Perhaps you can also think of us as explorers on a treasure hunt. But, alas, we don’t always find our treasure.

For instance, once we managed to locate the home archive of an important composer who had died a few years earlier: when we got there, his children told us that they had thrown everything away in the trash – and by “everything” we mean everything of their father’s entire production. Including unreleased works! They were selling the apartment and did not know what to do with their father’s tapes!

We’ve been luckier with other composers, though. Giuliano Sorgini, for example. We’ve spent many days going through his home archive. Almost for every tape we’ve listened to, he has shared many precious memories from his career. Still, you know how it is with memories: they’re not science…

In that sense, do you give a young and contemporary take on Italian library music?

We kind of hope so! Maybe that’s because we’re younger than other players in this industry? Just kidding. On a serious note: it’s really important to us that everything we do, every record we release and every artist we promote, is relevant today—and hopefully tomorrow, too.

We’re not interested in music from the past just for its own sake. What fascinates us the most about the past, is its impact on the present. And that’s also why—alongside our vintage library and soundtrack releases—we recently started putting out music by contemporary artists who rework the past into something fresh.

andrea fabrizii

"What fascinates us the most about the past, is its impact on the present."

—Elena Miraglia (International Project Manager, Four Flies)

What does sampling culture mean to Four Flies?

A lot! We’ve always been passionate about sampling as a cultural phenomenon. Even far before Four Flies was launched. There are months, years, sometimes a lifetime of intensive listening and research behind a sample, and that’s certainly an approach to music that we endorse.

Besides, a sample can be your gateway into a song, an artist, a genre, or an era you might not otherwise ever come across, which is such a vital cultural function! We, too, have often discovered an original via the new work that sampled it. The amount and variety of great grooves, beats, riffs, and melodies from vintage Italian soundtracks and library music that have been sampled, and may be sampled in the future, is just stunning. And we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There is still so much to unearth!

A soundtrack like Roberto Nicolosi’s “Eye In The Labyrinth” is a case in point. It remained almost unknown for years, while in fact, it is one of the best Italian jazzy soundtracks of the 70s!

Needless to say, library music is insanely diverse. Can you describe what’s the overall difference between the sound/style of famous UK music libraries and the sound/style of Italian library music?

That’s a tough question. There are certain similarities among European music libraries, but perhaps Italian composers brought a unique sentimental, emotional quality to library music. You know, Italy is the country of Opera. So something in their DNA must have led them to focus on melodic lines, or "themes"—which they did. Most of the time, they combined a groovy rhythm section with recognizably ‘Italian’ melodies—whether inspired by folk, popular or operatic music. The result is a rich, vividly expressive Mediterranean sound that retains all of its warmth, intensity, and freshness today.

How do you think Tracklib can change the way people sample?

In addition to simplifying the sample clearance process, we think that Tracklib may help lesser-known artists, genres, or labels to gain more visibility and thus reach a wider audience through sampling. Tracklib has brought something new to the table. Something that can finally make sampling easier and fairer on both ends: for producers as well as for labels or publishers representing the rightsholders.

Lastly, if you could sample any Four Flies track on Tracklib as a producer yourself, which one(s) would it be, why, and for what type of track?

I'll be honest, I've had to consult Francesco on this, our super knowledgeable repertoire administrator, and he immediately said “Sea Melody” by Fabio Fabor. We already have two wonderful versions of this piece: one more acoustic with vibraphone and piano, from the album Underwater Life. The other more modern with synthesizers and electric piano, from Melos and Psiche. It would be great to combine them into a new work that would both preserve the uniqueness of the original and give it a contemporary twist.

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