Music to Write To

Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but anyone listen to music while they write? And if you do, do you have any recommendations on good soundtracks/albums?

I think I've eaten through twelve-twenty different soundtracks for this one serial so far. I grew up playing musical instruments solo and in an orchestra and band, so music is an integral part of my artistic life.

Usually I write to classical or movie soundtracks. My favorite composers to write to are Alexander Desplat, Sawano Hiroyuki, sometimes Dario Marinelli, among others.

I usually avoid songs with lyrics as those usually are distracting...

For regular listening/scenes, this playlist:

Or this:

For fight scenes, something like this:

Not necessarily that playlist, but usually a playlist of 'best battle music'.

I rather like Yuki Kajiura, as well:

I also find lyrics distracting, but only if they're English and I can make them out. 90% of Yuki Kajiura's music is either lyric-free or a blending of latin/japanese/english into what fans call 'Kajiuran'.

Well, I use music three different ways:

1.) I put either "The Third Man Theme" or "Take Five" on a continuous loop and let it play endlessly. This can lead to madness, so do it at your own risk. (YouTube of each of these: Third Man: and Take Five: ).

2.) Sometimes I'll put on a long playlist of instrumental music, like Benny Goodman, or classical. Music with words engages my verbal brain and distracts me.

3.) BEFORE writing I'll listen to any and every kind of music and exercise to it. I'll pick the play list based on mood or how it evokes the character voice. Very often this will get my creative brain going so well that I zone out on the exercise and the music and start writing.


What the heck, Wildbow? Why you gotta be so awesome? Whoever MrSuicideSheep is, he's like my musical muse. That playlist is fantastic and right up my alley! *so grateful*

SgL I thought I was the only person in the world that listened to Dario Marinelli! Lovely, emotive stuff.

I listen to a lot of soundtracks too, mostly from films and video games, but I also listen to slowed down versions of trance. (Don't laugh!) This is the theme song to Rema and has been for more than 7 years. I must've listened to it over a hundred thousand times....

But you all seem to understand the habit to loop things. :)

If you feel a deep urge to find out what I listen to while writing, you can check out the Pandora channel that I've put pretty much anything I like into. You can also check out my account.

I really don't put much thought into it. I either listen to Pandora or put my music library on random play. Thus I listen what I always listen to--jazz (especially bebop, fusion, and early jazz), indie rock, 80's-90's alternative rock, 70's progressive rock, and other (somewhat randomly chosen) stuff.

There are some times when I get too distracted by the music as it's an interest (I play bass guitar semi-regularly, and have taken voice, piano, and trumpet lessons), but then I turn it off.

I find I have to avoid anything with lyrics because it can cause new story ideas to blossom (unless the song is what caused the story I'm working on)

I tend to go for instrumentals, classical, and old school techno. If i were to ever make a playlist for writing, La Villa Strangiata would be in there twice. at least.

What's wrong with coming up with new story ideas?

I love those moments when I'm halfway through a chapter and come up with something that totally derails what I had in mind. If it makes sense & is interesting enough, and it catches me by surprise, then I see that as a good thing.

wildbow, at this point i have (checks list on notebook) 12 stand alone novels, two trilogys, one 5 book series, 27 short stories, 2 series of connected short stories with at least 5 stories each partially plotted, 3 webcomics (strip format) 2 comics (full page format) and 7 poems or songs that need working on.

Not counting the two novels I AM already slowly serializing and two webcomics i'm actually writing regularly for that are going out.


I'm with Wildbow. I LOVE surprising myself! At the same time, Alexander, there's a thing to be said for focus. When I really need to focus, I have a playlist that consists of one file that plays on repeat: wind blowing through a cave! lol

amy.... can you send me that file pretty please? I would love that. Hell, i want that for sleeping too! itsatrap at gmail dot com , if you are able to. Thank you in advance! (I would totally call the file name sessery too! heh)

Amy - Like you I repeat one song ad nauseum when I want to tackle something . The repetition actually does something different for me than listening to new songs in the background. (Music for me is rarely a background element for me because I was a very active musician through college. My brain wants to analyze new music so it's better to not tempt it and so I put something that I enjoy mood-wise on a loop.)

Right now I'm eating up "Two Steps From HEll" and their new release Skyworld. Their music is always trailer fodder -- designed to strongly appeal to the taste of movie goers. "All is Hell That End's Well" is really cool to listen to. It has a lot of things going on in there that seem to scream "epic fantasy" to me.

I hear those of you talking about putting one song on repeat...I find I do that more at work than I do when I'm writing, though. If I have one of those times when I'm in the zone, I find that listening to all or mostly instrumental music can help me get there, and once I am, it becomes really like the soundtrack to whatever I'm writing.

My favorites for this type of exercise are Boards of Canada, Harold Budd, and Bonobo. Sometimes I lean towards something with more beat, like Aphex Twin, but I usually like to keep it more on the ambient side because it helps me focus.


Super: Sci-fi/suspense/superheroes

SgL -- Oooh Two Steps From Hell! That's my husband's favorite haha~ I'm also a big fan of E.S. Posthumus. :)

P.S. y'all. Tonight's revisions were brought to me by the totally inspiring White's Dream:

I make playlists out of the 20+gb music collection I have on my computer, which are a mix of "I really like this song and it fits thematically" and "I really like this song."

There is one exception, though.

So I am basically an aging punk rocker. My default song choices are punk music from the 70s and 80s (some 90s) and industrial music. When I started writing Curveball I thought "hey, it's an excuse to put together a punk rock playlist!"

It didn't quite work out that way.

CB started out his career as an "overthrow the existing order" villain, who was "turned" by Liberty (the Captain America analog in my world) and continued his career as Liberty's sidekick. For some reason no one has been able to explain, he doesn't age. So he's a 50-something year old guy in a mid-20s body. All of his friends, including an ex girlfriend, are now in their mid 50s. This is incredibly alienating.

So one day I was sitting in my cube at work and someone sent me a link to a youtube video that had a bunch of Marines in Afghanistan play-acting out a video for a song I'd never heard before. The song was called "Call me, maybe" and it's likely you've heard it if you listen to top 40 radio. I mostly don't listen to anything but my music collection, so my musical tastes are a bit dated.

Anyway, the video was kind of legitimately amusing. But what captured my attention was the song, because I haven't heard top 40 music in a loooooong time, and it suddenly occurred to me "this is what 'the kids' are listening to these days." And all of a sudden I found that song incredibly alienating because it was music I had no connection to whatsoever, by which I mean it wasn't even intended for my age group. I mean, I rejected a lot of music in my teens and 20s, to, but I was rejecting music that was targeted at me. In this case, it has nothing to do with me as a demographic.

And I thought "whoa. This is basically how CB feels all the time."

So I bought the single on Amazon, and I play it a lot when I'm writing Curveball. That alienation hasn't specifically come int play yet, story wise, and I don't know that it necessarily will in a big way, but it's an important thing for me to keep in mind.

So the story of the 70s-punk-turned-former-anarchist-villain-turned-Patriotic-sidekick-superhero is heavily influenced by a top 40's pop song.

Haha Amy - I have a few ES Posthumus too, but I think there's a little bit more variety in some of the Two Steps albums... so those guys have been squeezing out ES for play time.

The other soundtrack I picked up for looping was "Flow". I heard about the grammy nod for the same composer's track for "Journey" and ended up getting his other track. It's weird playing ambient electronica though. Sometimes it's very good for working and sometimes it puts me to sleep.


I just bet you,

and this is craaaazy,

but he survived that,

Bug, pay me maybe?

(the song really got popular due to the number of people parodying it. It's a simple earworm that lends itself to jokes, it really wouldn't have gone far otherwise. )

So I finally did something I always wanted to do but never knew how to approach it until Wildbow tipped me off to MrSuicideSheep - I made a music playlist for Rema.

Yeeaaah... there's some Secret of Mana in there.

Since Amy's husband and I have similar tastes - forgot to mention that got redirected to "Elysium" by Jo Blankenburg . First track , Garador's Track is pretty awesome.

Not sure if I like Audiomachine (another related recommendation from Amazon). Decent, but not really grabbing me. I'll have to try a few more albums.

Also - if you ever bought a CD from Amazon in the last few years, you now have it on your cloud mp3 player thanks to their new program Autorip :). Wish I bought more CDs, some of the things showing up in my mp3 library are terrible pop trash from years ago. heh.