What do you guys think about music?

What do you guys think about stories linking music before chapters?

I usually don't listen to music when I write because I need silence to concentrate but I like posting music for people to listen to while reading the text. I feel like music can enhance the mood and experience, drawing the reader into the atmosphere of a scene in a way words by themselves could not.

By listening to songs picked in tandem with reading specific chapters, I feel the themes of the writing would be pushed to the forefront, pulling the reader's emotions out a little bit more and allowing for deeper introspection. Giving readers the chance to compare the story to issues within their lives and life in general.

I'm thinking of doing this. Thoughts?

I know some people like to do it as an artistic choice, but I've never really been into it myself. Writing just isn't the same as movies, and you can't pace the music to how any given person will necessarily read the text, either in speed or visual interpretation. Plus, depending on how they react to music, they might end up emoting in a way that's different to how you think they would for the scene, and it may be more jarring than not. Likewise, especially if the song has lyrics, it may even distract their thoughts from the text and cause them to unintentionally skip over words as their focus lapses. Otherwise, not everyone really thinks about themes or relates them to a work as they read, and songs can often be very subjective anyway, thus you might think the song resonates with the scene in one sense, when a reader might misinterpret the theme thanks to their own connection to the song being different.

That's not to say you shouldn't do it, though. All of the above conflict can be avoided by the reader just reading the story, then going back to click the song link, or vice versa, and piecing them together after the fact at their own pace. Maybe as something to put in the author's notes, as it were.

In any case, I would treat it more as a side gimmick, rather than expect it to be key to the experience. But that's just me. I'm the kind of guy who turns the music and sound off with most video games so I can listen to podcasts instead and tends not to notice music in movies unless its either really well crafted to the scene or really obnoxious, so I suppose I don't value it as part of the experience as much.

Songs with lyrics would be too distracting for many readers (but could be provided as a coda to reading the chapter, as Sharkerbob suggests). Instrumental music would be cool, bearing in mind that some readers will either not bother or might be somewhere it is not possible/appropriate to listen at the time - so expect many will skip it. But for those who might enjoy it, why not give the option? It's a nice low key multi-media enhancement that takes advantage of being on the web.

(You wouldn't do autoplay, would you? please say no).

I personally stop hearing things when I absorbed into a good story, so I wouldn't bother with it, but you're better off polling your readers to gauge interest.

I've encountered this before and found it incredibly annoying when it's on autoplay (enough to stop reading). If you offered it as an option, I'm not sure it would be worth the effort as most people would ignore it. As a reader I don't want a multimedia experience, especially when it comes to music which is very subjective. I would see it more as a distraction than an enhancement.

Taste in music is notoriously subjective. And once you start, you are kind of stuck with that trick. Even song lyrics are tough because most lyrics are pretty cheesy when you get right down to it. Not all, but most.

I've done a few short stories with music, or at least being in a music venue, as a huge part of the story. At that point, you are not deep into the music as much as you are into the result of the music on the narrator or the participants. That is more describable and universal. For instance, even if one does not like hip-hop, the feeling of the beat and the sweat of the moving crowd is understandable.

As for putting music on your page, I'd have to agree with the quorum. Don't. When one is reading, that essentially hijacks the sensorium like plugging into the matrix. Introducing something outside of that is the opposite of immersive, it's distracting.

One idea you could do for fun would be, one of your updates or as an extra post, just put a playlist of songs you think would be a nice "soundtrack" to your story. This way it wouldn't interfere with the reading, but for people who appreciate that sort of thing, they can look up the songs on the list.

I love music, music is almost always heavily involved in my story-creating process, and I am always sorely tempted to drag my readers' attention to that fact. I (almost always) remind myself not to do that, for all the good reasons listed above--musical tastes are very subjective, etc. That said...

The episode titles for Graves were all song titles that tied somehow to the episode and that fit the soundtrack in my mind. So they served the story but also gave me a little fun extra as I picked out the songs to use. In the end, I did pretty much what Sharkerbob said--I put together a spotify list of the songs I used as titles and listed it as an extra* for anyone who might think it was nifty, but I avoided shoving it down anyone's throat. I've seen other serials do similar things. I did get a couple of "OMG I love that song!" responses, which was cool because it's always cool to geek out with a new friend over a shared love of anything.

*https://gravesserial.wordpress.com/soundtrack/ if you're looking for an example. It's set up on an entirely separate page from anything else, so that it doesn't interrupt the flow of the story.

I make several references to songs, especially in the hopes someone might put them on while reading that particular part. A bit of knowledge about some of the songs might even give a little more insight into the situation. I even have a part named after a song. I'd like to put together a list as well, though that would be a lot of updates to go through to pull it together. I can't help but think of Guardians of the Galaxy now, though I was including these references even before all of that.

Though some might think I went too far when an entire city is stuck with its radios, TVs, and internet-connected devices stuck repeating the song "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!" by the Vengaboys nonstop. But then, it is a supervillain story.

The only time I can think of where songs were used to enhance a story that I've enjoyed is Dan Leo's various works. Basically, he tends to set stories in the 60s and then decorate his sites with 60s artwork. At the end of the update, he often links to a video that would have been known in the period even if it's not current to the period.

See further:


"We broke this city! (bam ba bam) We broke this city with ROCK AND ROLL! Broke this city!"

I should have also mentioned a section of my serial in which my main characters fought a character whose powers could partially be circumvented by playing terrible music at great volume. When I mentioned music as being played, I linked to it in the first comment after my post so that people could fully "appreciate" the music (but only by their own choice).

For the most part, they were suitably horrified.

Off topic some, though I do so enjoy my music.

I've spent way more time than I should on trying to pick out just the perfect "Psycho Gecko Theme Song" as well. The two best contenders are Three Dog Night's "The Show Must Go On and "My Evil Ways" by The Nearly Deads. Other contenders include "The Rat" by Infected Mushroom, The Avalanches's "Frontier Psychiatrist", and Blues Saraceno's "Criminal". Other people have apparently thought of their own songs upon interactions with me, including Creature Feature's "The Greatest Show Unearthed" and "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads.

Top Two:

1. The Show Must Go On: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lr-jzy-CNM

2. My Evil Ways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AutS-dYmvtc

And if anyone's curious as to where I got my current icon, that also involves music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di7NMssrqsE

I'm not sure I'd listen to a specific song while reading something because I don't like distractions when I read. And in line with what Sharkerbob said, trying to sync a song to someone's individual reading speed seems nightmarishly complicated.

That said, I do create playlists of songs while I'm writing. Curveball has a playlist, Pay Me, Bug!/A Rake by Starlight has a playlist, The Points Between has a playlist (and for one chapter I did nothing but listen to Sid Barrett singing an acoustic version of "Opel" while I was writing it, which is an unusual choice for me but it worked very well for that chapter.)

On a meta level above that, I tend to think of writing fiction the same way I think of songwriting. Stories have rhythm and flow in much the same way songs do. They're expressed very differently -- the "music" of a story bears very little resemblance to the "music" of a song, unless you are working in a very ornamental style -- but when a chapter doesn't work I tend to fret over how it stumbles and loses its rhythm and comes off jarring. And sometimes that works, because sometimes you're writing Metal Machine. But, at least in my case, not very often.