Melodic Virtue is a small, artist-friendly independent publisher dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacies of underground bands through limited-run coffee table books.
Originally founded in 2004 as a graphic design studio by Aaron Tanner, Melodic Virtue produces fully authorized books that offer an immersive, and definitive, visual history of bands outside of mainstream music culture. Each authentic and unusual story is told through compelling design, rare photographs and artwork, and gripping first-hand anecdotes from their fans and contemporaries.
Publisher, Creative Director, Archivist
Aaron Tanner is a graphic designer, musician, and underground music archivist from Evansville, Indiana.
Tanner’s mastery of design earned him recognition within the underground music community and ultimately led him to become Ween's resident designer, a position he has held for over 20 years. He founded Melodic Virtue in 2004, a design firm catering to bands and regional businesses. While maintaining a diverse client roster that included Explosions in the Sky, Pinback, Mono, Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donelly, Epitaph Records, Secretly Group, Temporary Residence Ltd., Joyful Noise Recordings, and pet celebs Lil BUB and Doug the Pug, Tanner created Pixies: A Visual History, Volume 1 with co-author Sean Rayburn. The acclaimed publication received multiple national awards and propelled Tanner's career in publishing.
Inspired by visually focused books devoted to mainstream artists, he recognized the absence of similar works for important yet underrepresented bands with their own rich visual histories. Determined to rectify this, Tanner delved into creating coffee table books that seamlessly combined his two passions: visual art and underground music. His unconventional design work with The Residents, Butthole Surfers, and Ministry has received critical acclaim, and each publication has earned a place in the permanent collections of esteemed institutions such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Punk Rock Museum, and the Archive of Contemporary Music.
Tanner brings a DIY ethic to the books he creates, incorporating a hands-on approach into his design and production process. That, along with his enduring commitment to underground artists, has opened a window into their unique legacies through his visually captivating books, combining compelling design, rare photographs, artwork, and firsthand anecdotes from fans and contemporaries. With each project, Tanner provides a deep and genuinely authentic glimpse behind the curtain, leaving an indelible mark on the world of design at the intersection of art and music.