Book:Soul Music

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Soul Music
Cover art by Josh Kirby
Publisher Victor Gollancz
Publication date May 1994
ISBN 0575055049
Pages 288
Main characters Imp y Celyn, Death, Susan Sto-Helit, Glod Glodsson, Lias Bluestone
Series Death Series
Annotations View
All data relates to the first UK edition.


Other children got given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.

Yes. There's a Death in the family.

It's hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.

And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered the Discworld.

It's Lawless. It changes people.

It's called Music With Rocks In.

It's got a beat and you can dance to it, but ...

It's alive.

And it won't fade away.


The book tells the story of Rock 'n' Roll's brief appearance on the Disc. Imp y Celyn (aka Buddy) emigrates from Llamedos to Ankh-Morpork, with a harp as his only hope of making money. He meets dwarf hornist Glod Glodsson and troll percussionist Lias "Cliff" Bluestone and they apply to join the Musicians' Guild, only to discover that the malicious secretary Clete charges a ridiculously high membership fee. To make their situation worse, Cliff accidentally crushes Buddy's harp. As a replacement, Buddy purchases a strange guitar which produces a distorted and extremely loud noise despite having no sound chamber. Although it is illegal for musicians outside of the guild to perform in public, they decide to play gigs at pubs and clubs.

The book features the first appearance of Susan Sto Helit, the daughter of Mort and Ysabell and a student in Quirm. At the beginning of the book, Mort and Ysabell have just been killed in a coach accident. Death takes leave from his post due to his grief and Susan is forced to fill in his duty. As part of the job, Susan has to attend the scheduled Death of "Imp y Celyn" in Ankh-Morpork. As the band, who later become known as The Band With Rocks In, are playing in a club, she sees a barbarian throw an axe at the stage. Instead of killing the singer however, it misses at the moment of his scheduled death. She soon discovers that the Music is a magical and almost demonic force which is artificially extending his life by manipulating his luck.

The band soon rise to prominence in Ankh-Morpork after they come under the care of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who become the Disc's first ever Band Manager. He arranges for them to play at the Cavern Club, to a huge and enthusiastic reception. Again, the Music stops Buddy from being killed a second time by Clete's private assassins. The hypnotic power of the Music means both the band and the audience are put under a spell during the shows. Soon, more bands are being formed in Ankh-Morpork and many hopeful musicians are learning guitar and forming bands, even the Wizards at the Unseen University. Dibbler arranges them to go on a tour to several cities, and the band a greeted with huge crowds wherever they play. At the same time, Buddy is becoming increasingly tired and depleted, saying and doing almost nothing between the shows.

The band arranges a huge free concert at Hide Park in Ankh-Morpork (a parody of the Woodstock Festival, and also referencing a famous concert by The Rolling Stones), featuring other bands with varying degrees of incompetence. They then flee the city, pursued by Dibbler, the Musician's Guild, Susan and Death. Their cart falls off the edge of a cliff, but Death intervenes and drives the Music off the Disc by destroying the guitar. The fate of the band is ambiguous and it is suggested near the end that Imp may have ended up working at a chip shop in Quirm.


Main Characters

Minor Characters

Cameos and Mentions

Concepts, Items, Etc.



Soul Music
SM DVD Cover.jpg
IMDB 0159914
First Broadcast 1996
Broadcast Channel Channel 4
Director(s) {{{director}}}
Producer(s) Jean Flynn
Writer(s) {{{writer}}}
Starring Christopher Lee, Andy Hockley, Debra Gillett, Graham Crowden
Duration 159 minutes
Episodes 7
Series Death Series
Annotations Annotations for Book:Soul Music
Preceded by Welcome to the Discworld
Followed by Wyrd Sisters
All data relates to the UK home release.

An animated mini-series adaptation was produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Channel 4 in 1996. It was later released in a two-VHS box set.

An accompanying soundtrack album was released - The CD is now out of print and rare to find, but the album is available through iTunes[1].


  • Imp y Celyn - Andy Hockley (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
  • Susan Sto Helit - Debra Gillett (The Witches, Truckers)
  • Death - Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man, The Man with the Golden Gun, Lord of the Rings trilogy)
  • Mustrum Ridcully - Graham Crowden (Waiting for God)
  • Mort - Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly, Bob the Builder)
  • Asphalt - Bernard Wrigley


The TV adaptation of Soul Music takes the association of the "Band with Rocks In" with the Beatles even further than the book does. Their style evolves from 1950s rock and early 1960s beat music (and mixing-bowl haircuts) in Ankh-Morpork, to acid rock in Scrote, to spiritual hippie rock in Quirm. In Sto Lat, they sound like the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Bad Company, but are dressed in clothes similar to the Beatles on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Also in Quirm, Buddy says that the band is 'more popular than cheeses,' referring to John Lennon's famous quote proclaiming the Beatles to be more popular than Jesus. In Pseudopolis, their outfits and style resemble the Blues Brothers. Crash's band is also given the name "Socks Pastels".


First Edition Cover by Josh Kirby
Book Proof
'Letterbox' Hardback
Cover by Michael Sabanosh
Cover by Michael Sabanosh-paperback
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
US Cover
Paperback 2012
Unseen Library Edition
Collectors Library Edition
Paperback 2022

External Links

Soul Music Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File

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