Music to write to 1

These days I tend to mix up my writing habits in order to prevent myself becoming too dependent on a single setting to write.

I don’t ever really want to be one of those writers who can only compose when the wind is blowing south westerly, listening to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on repeat, wearing a toga and sipping wine from a plastic skull.

I only did that one time.

However, there are patterns in how I write. Generally, I write with music on unless I’m very tired or line editing.

I’ll compose first drafts to whatever fits the mood of the piece.

For example, with Forever I wrote most of the first draft while listening to Kings Of Leon because it made me think of travelling through a neon lit city at night, good bourbon and relationships falling apart. I have no idea why. In the case of All That Glitters, I’m taking a different approach as the language of the piece – in particular the voice of the narrator and the lead character – are so important, I’ve dispensed with lyrical music almost entirely and I’m listening to instrumental pieces.

In particular, I’m really enjoying cellist Zoe Keating’s stuff because – damn – that musician can play. I’m so glad I’ve seen her perform live. I’m blending that stuff with some more tradition classical favourites like the previously mentioned Puccini, Beethoven and soundtracks such as Master and Commander and Morse.

Naturally, all fight scenes are written to Metal. How about you?

NB – This is Zoe performing Tetrishead at Macworld 2011:


About Neil

Father of three (but you can only see two), writer, digital boffin, reader, geek and probably some other stuff. Trapped behind a keyboard or chasing around after a four year old and a baby, somewhere in Wales.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “Music to write to

  • Genghis Khan

    I sometimes tend to find it hard to write to music, especially if there is a lot of lyrical content. I find music inspiring though, in terms of writing. I’ve always felt that all songs are really stories: the verses, chorus, bridge etc representing scenes.

    When I’m in the mood for listening to music it could be (almost) anything I stick on. For fight scenes I tend to prefer something house / dance like (prodigy for example) or maybe metal. I sometimes think Metal sounds like the prelude to a fight, or the atmosphere after one, whereas the fight scene is really high tempo (and for me electronic, don’t know why…).

    Eminem and rap is good for dark mood I find, although I tend to find this is the hardest to write with as the lyrics sneak into the writing. If you like atmospheric and instrumental check out the work of Emancipator. Beautiful almost bleak stuff, and awesome (IMHO) to write to.

    On this note, I’ve always thought it would be awesome to make a note of what you’re listening to while writing, and then making up a sound track for the book. I think that reading and listening could be as much interwoven as watching and listening (a la the movies), but I guess that is harder to achieve)…