Soul Music is one of my favorite Discworld novels. Naturally, as soon as I discovered the 1997 animated TV adaptation, I wanted to watch it. I was surprised by the quality of the production.

The animation was good, with a great attention to little details, though not up to big-budget Disney standards, of course. Story-wise, the film followed the book very closely, but with its own added jokes that were funny and in keeping with the original material.

Interestingly enough, the part I liked the best of the video was not from the book. It was the music. The film’s soundtrack includes several original songs that the Band With Rocks In plays throughout the story. For the most part they are style parodies of The Beatles, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, The Blues Brothers, and a few others. (Oh, and there’s even a brief, and hysterical, performance of the hit Discworld folk song Gatherin’ Rhubarb.) The songs are very well done, and often remind me of two or three “real” songs at once. You can listen to the tracks for free on, if you want to give them a try.

The story, as those who have read the book already know, follows two main arcs, which collide several times as events play out.

Susan Sto Helit is the granddaughter of Death. (You know, Death — deep voice, scythe, cloak, a little bit skeletal…) There was some business with an adopted daughter and an apprentice named Mort, but that was in a different book… When they die in a tragic carriage accident, Death abandons the Duty to go and “forget.” Susan is called upon to do the job in his absence, since she inherited some of her grandfather’s abilities.

Imp y Celyn (Welsh for “Bud of the Holly”) is an aspiring bard from rainy Llamedos. He journeys to the great city of Ankh-Morpork to become a famous musician, only to be beset by exorbitant guild fees. Eventually he ends up with a strange magic guitar, and starts a band with two friends who also couldn’t afford the Musicians Guild’s entry fee.

Eventually their paths cross when Imp, or Buddy as he later calls himself, is nearly killed while performing at a riotous bar. As his lifetimer runs out, a blue flame appears in the top end of the hourglass, signifying that his life has been taken over by the music. Susan continues to watch out for him while investigating the potentially harmful guitar.

I don’t want to spoil the whole story for you, as it’s a particularly good one, so I’ll leave you to watch Soul Music for yourself. If you’re a reader of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, watching Soul Music is mandatory. If you’re new to Pratchett, it’s definitely worth a watch; you may very well want to give the book a try afterward.