A Writer’s Friend–Music


I’ve had this idea floating around in my head for a while now. What exactly is the affect of music on writers? Are some inspired by listening to certain forms of music? Or do some not listen while writing at all?
In my case it can be either/or. Depending on the type of mood I am in, I can write while listening to music, but in other cases I have to have complete silence. I generally listen to music without words, though, namely classical and orchestrated soundtracks from movies.

So I am curious what music does everyone listen to when they write? How does it affect you?

And, alternately, has a song, or section of a musical piece, inspired you so much that you’ve actually written a scene set to it?
I ask that question simply because it seems that some authors, besides myself, have had this experience. Christopher Paolini wrote the final battle scene in Eragon while listening to Carmina Burana, a fantastic epic classical work by Carl Orff. If you listen to parts of it you’ll understand why he was so influenced by that piece. I have tried looking for other authors that have had similar experiences, but have somewhat come up short. Over here at Quantum Storytelling Redchurch has written a blog about favorite writing music. He quotes using a lot of different forms of music, mostly from film composers.
In my case I find that I am increasingly influenced by two specific pieces of music from two rather entertaining films. One is from The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack, track 13. I’ve actually written in my head an entire scene for The World in the Satin Bag. It’s a very emotional scene too, one in which I am not at all excited to write. The other is the track entitled Kronos Revealed on The Incredibles soundtrack. I’ve not written anything for it, but every time I hear that piece I start to really think. It is a powerful and gripping piece from the film and ends on this dark, brass filled set of notes, intensifying to a climax.

So, what sort of music affects all of you in your writing?

And, if we take this in the opposite direction, perhaps something you have written inspired you to write a song or think of something musical. Spider Robinson worked with David Crosby to write a sort of ‘scifi’ folk song for one of his novels. You can see the interview here. It’s really the dorkiest you can get, but makes you think a little.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

9 thoughts on “A Writer’s Friend–Music

  1. I’m not a writer in sense of stories/books. When I do write, it’s the same … either/or … Music is powerful. It evokes emotions & assists the words to flow or it can muddle you hence writing in the quiet.

    Upon your entry, I relate to my brother who is an artist/writer in Eureka, CA. His styles have spanned through out the years. Currently he pursuing live electronics (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=46102850) for on stage & for movies. The music enhances the story as you can see with loving all the soundtracks. It seems only fitting that music gives passion to enable writers to show the story on paper.

    As for music I enjoy, I range from Rascall Flats to Matchbox 20 to Bon Jovi to Moby.

    Best of luck!

  2. Oh, I’m a fan of Moby myself. Some of his music is really rather good.
    Your brother is quite good. Very industrial/Crystal Method/Chemical Brothers/Fatboy Slim style. Entertaining stuff!

  3. This is so interesting to me – I am truly envious of writers who can listen to music. For me, complete silence (well, as close as I can get with my insane household) is vital to the first draft. Revision is a different beast, and then I try to match my music to what I’m working on. Ethereal Celtic if I’m revising a fantasy, jazz or whatever if I’m working on something more contemporary. Although I find I spend too much time on iTunes radio trying to find the “right” music, so half the time I end up with silence by default.

  4. Hey! I really like your blog. I linked to it and I’ll try to visit frequently.

    As for music, I only listen to it while writing, not editinf, because then it becomes distracting. I usually listen to non-voiced music from videogames (weird, maybe) because they have different songs for towns and battles, which works nicely when writing those respective fantasy scenes.

    I’ve had several rebellion scenes while listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack. And some scary ones to The Phantom of the Opera

    Oh, and thanks for naming the song Carmina Burana. I’ve had it in my head a lot, but could never remember its name. Now I can find and download it!

  5. Music is an important part of how I write. I always have some sort of music playing when I’m writing. It can be anything form a soundtrack (usual) to opera, but mostly instrumental, as words usually distract me.

    Oh, and thanks for the link, I’ve added you to mine as well. 🙂

  6. cyberoutlaw,

    That’s why some of us prefer film scores and ambient music. It’s just enough texture to provide a mood without getting all uppity in your face like most music does.

  7. Hey! I found your blog via Andrew’s. 🙂

    I love to listen to music while I’m writing, but it has to match the mood, and preferably have no words. Which pretty much narrows it down to film soundtracks. Sometimes I put music on to help me get in the correct mood, but often I’ll just put it on to block out other noises (like my loud sister having fights with my mum O_o). It’s good to have something as a sort of blank background; I can put on the Aladdin soundtrack and not even ‘hear’ it. 😀

  8. Sometimes music really spurs me on to write a scene or a short story. The type of music I listen to depends on the kind of story I’m writing.

    A couple songs that come to mind that helped me write were “Numb” by Tait and mostly all of Superchic[k]’s Karaoke Superstar album when I had to write new stories or essays.

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