Monday, January 7, 2013

The Writer's Music

I've been at Disneyland the last few days, going crazy over the rides and the Disney characters at every turn. It's got me thinking about how important to each of Disney's films the soundtracks are. What would The Lion King be without Hakuna Matata?! What about Aladdin without A Whole New World? And then of course there's the other movies that rely on the music to set the scene and create the mood of each part of the story.

Why is it that many of us listen to music when we write? Is it because it helps create imagery in your mind and provides inspiration or does it help you concentrate or is it just because you don't like writing in silence?  What do you listen to when you write?

For me, I think I listen to music because it really helps me set the scene of what I'm writing about. It provides inspiration and helps me to imagine the world that my book is set. For me, music really helps fuel and push a story forward.

I've listened to a few writing soundtracks of other authors and noticed that a lot of the music others listen to is filled with lyrics. That's the first rule I make. No lyrical songs. Not because I don't love them but because I latch on to songs that I like, then I play them over, and over and over until people tell me to stop (at which time I put headphones on and continue listening to it over and over).... and then I know the words, so my brain focuses on the song, and the lyrics, rather than it becoming background noise.

I also do love classical pieces, and my FH is a pianist who used to fill the house with music before he sold him piano to buy his plane ticket to America (sob). So I went around the internet (oh how I love the Internet) and searched for instrumental musicians I loved to add to my playlist.

The first I found was Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian pianist who's music I love. I find his music really great for writing scenes about the setting or quiet, slow paced scenes. Check out his stuff here

When I want a change of pace I get stuck into the feisty Lindsey Stirling. She's an amazing young and rocking violinist. I've been super impressed with her stuff. I've never seen someone make violin playing look as cool as she does, and it's some great music to listen to when I'm really trying to get in the feisty writing zone! You can find her here

For some great scene setting music to really get me in the right frame of mind, I listen to a YouTube channel called Essenceuy. There's such a range of music, for all the occasions you could possibly imagine in your novel! It's great! Check it here

And finally, a band I actually discovered at the Tall Ships Festival in Montreal was Beltaine, a Polish folk band with some entrancing folk style music which may make you feel like you're in Ireland or Scotland, and of course Poland. They're really great and I listen to them a lot when I'm imagining the world of my current WIP. Find them here.

Aside from that I listen to the classic Mozart and Beethoven songs, just to mix it up a bit!

Now, they're the ones I listen to most regularly, but I'm always on the lookout for more, so if you know any great instrumental bands or instrumental music please do let me know! I'd be curious to know if you listen to music when you write, and if so, what kind?


  1. I can't listen to music while I write, and it's not that I don't love music. That's the problem. I'm a musician, and when music's playing, part of my brain is engaged listening to it. If it has words, I'm listening to the words. And if it doesn't have words, I'm listening to the music, figuring out how to play it, or critiquing it if I'm not enjoying it. All of this, of course, interferes with the creative process of writing for me. But I also don't like to write in silence, so I write to white noise. That might sound dull, but it's a great way to shut out the world, and help my brain focus on the task at hand. There are no tunes or even rhythmic patterns in white noise to distract my mind.

    I wish I could listen to music when I write. I enjoy music so much, and I know it would be a more efficient use of my time if I could do both activities simultaneously. As it is, I have to make do with listening to music in between bouts of writing. Sometimes I'll play something that puts me in a good frame of mind for the project I'm working on. But as soon as I fire up Word, the music goes off.

    I blogged about this a while ago if you want to read more about my music/writing dilemma. :)

    1. I totally understand. I'm actually the same. If I'm listening to music I have to be very detached from the piece so as to basically make it white noise..Otherwise I get too distracted by the music and lose focus. It's the same when I read actually, it's like I can only focus on one thing at a time. It's interesting the way the human brain works. I'll go check out your other post on it!

    2. Yes--I'm the same way with reading too. Here's the article (to save you the hunt). It's actually from many months ago--over a year ago, actually!

  2. I'm very easily distracted so often I listen to music to get me in the right mood for writing a scene, but then I usually prefer to work in silence. If there aren't any lyrics then sometimes I'll leave the music on. My current playlist mostly includes songs from Snow Patrol, Florence and the Machine, Imagine Dragons, and Tron Legacy Reconfigured (a remix of the Tron soundtrack that's great for writing sci-fi).

    Sounds like you're having a blast at Disneyland!