Friday, May 21, 2010

Theme Music

I listen to music while I write and it generally changes from piece to piece. For example a recent very short story I wrote had only Led Zeppelin as the background music as I wrote it, while the latest Saphir story had predominately Massive Attack and Goldfrapp as the theme music. In my mind it creates an ambiance that I hope will help give a different vibe to the story.

For novels as opposed to short stories I listen to more because its a longer work and there are a variety of emotions attached-lots of characters and situations. Heroes of the Fallen for example had a lot of Nightwish, Basil Poledouris, Hans Zimmer, Rammstein, Apocalyptica, Lacuna Coil, rocking epic stuff IMAO.

Bless the Child, an exiled Spartan first person POV tale set in the ancient Holy Land right before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar has a more subdued theme-I listened to a lot of the same artists by perhaps more poignant scores-Last of the Mohicans, Das Boot, Sisters of Mercy and Sarah Brightman.

For my weird western Dance the Ghost with Me I mostly listen to Johnny Cash but I cannot stress the Highwaymen's-"Highwayman" enough. Great song. And then another tale that is well begun had an almost entire score (in my mind) by the techno-rocking of the Crystal Method-great pumping action tunes.

And finally for one of the latest things I am brainstorming, I am blending themes from favorite films with a genre that hasn't seen enough of a certain angle-at least not to my satisfaction.

What do all of you prefer to help inspire you? Silence, I'll bet for some but I like to let the muse dance when she is beside me.


Amalia T. said...

I listen to a lot of Celtic Rock when I write, and variations on old folk music and sea-shanties. I feel like sea-shanties and folk music are the mythology of the musical world, so it seems only fitting :)

Mr. said...


Most writing music needs to stay out of the way. So John Scoville, Kim Fox, Phillip Glass, Mormoniana are all standbys.

Ann Best said...

How wonderfully creative! You are in sync with my 40 year young son with this music. (The only one I really relate to is Johnny Cash, whom my daughter and I love.) I like silence when I write, but maybe I should try this.

I'm waiting for your book to arrive. I think it's been about a week since I ordered it. I hope it comes soon!!!

Lisa said...

I love most of your music choices!

I love to daydream to music but when I write the music has to be turned off. Ironic really.

David J. West said...

Amalia-I love the celtic rock I have heard (admittedly not a lot)

Th.-I'm not familiar with the first 2 but I agree in that I like it as the background ambiance which is why so much of what I listen to is instrumental-I get picky about vocals.

Ann-thanks Ann-I would imagine it should be soon.

Lisa-I do a lot of brainstorming while driving and cranking up the tunes.

Kimberly said...

I switch up my music depending on the pacing and mood of each scene. I listen to a lot of folk music - harder almost rocking stuff like Great Big Sea, Ashley MacIsaac, etc...and then some slow, almost depressing sounding music - Ane Brun, Oren Lavie, Hem, Dar Williams. And sometimes when I'm feeling whimsical I listen to The Smiths, James, Stone Roses, etc.

Nichole Giles said...

Like you, it depends on the scene, the characters, and my current mood. During Nano(and my most current WIP), I listened to a lot of Pearl Jam, Life House, and yes, some Lady GaGa.

This week, as I work more on the same draft, I find myself listening to soundtracks like Phantom of the Opera. No reason in particular except the passion behind the music.

But with this particular WIP series, there will always be room for Nickelback.

Yeah, I know. I'm weird. That's why I write.

David J. West said...

Kim-I listen to the Smiths and Morriseey a lot too-should have put that for Bless the Child.

Nichole-yep you're weird. I cannot abide the Nickelback while at the same time I do like GaGa.

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually never listen to any kind of music when I'm writing fiction. I find it interferes with the internal rhythm of the prose that I'm hearing in my head. I guess I'm not a very good multitasker.

Sometimes I will listen to music when I'm working on nonfiction. I really like the Nightwish stuff, which you turned me on to.

David J. West said...

Charles-I knew there were people who didn't and that's cool.

With me I guess its just how I have always done it-I do write without music but as a matter of preference I listen 90% of the time.

prashant said...

I'm waiting for your book to arrive. I think it's been about a week since I ordered it. I hope it comes soon!!!
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David J. West said...

Thanks Prashant-and it would be news to me if the book went that far.

Kessee said...


Just finished up book 1, 1st draft.

Sent it off for some editing and then I'll submit it to a publisher.


Kessee said...

Oh, and to chime in on the music. I just use my blog playlist and I type away. 99.9%.

I pulled many thematic ideas from the music I listen to and they act as a type of notes for me.

David J. West said...

Excellent Kessee, I know what you mean about music-it can drive you. Great job on finishing that draft.

Peggy Shumway said...

I'm one of those *silence is golden* people. I already have too many voices stomping around in my head.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've left a comment for you there.

David J. West said...

Thanks Peggy-I knew some people were like that-music is just teh way I roll.

Angie said...

Hmmm. That's interesting. I just put my player on shuffle and whatever comes up comes up. I haven't ever tried choosing music specifically for the piece. It might work though. Whenever I hear "Danger Zone," I want to write fighter jet scenes.

David J. West said...

Angie-yeah some songs are pretty engrained as to what they are about.