Music to Write By

Some writers need music – they cannot focus without tunes to help set a mood, or provide a soundtrack for the pictures and words inside their heads. Others shun extraneous sounds as a distraction. I tend to fall somewhere in between the groups – at times I need music (often as a form of ‘white noise’) and at other times I prefer quiet. When I do use music, my selections tend to be eclectic. There are a few hard and fast limits. Nothing with lyrics in English, and Latin only if 1) the accompaniment covers the words or 2) it is a text I’m not familiar with. Otherwise I get sucked into the song and I can’t focus on writing. And the soundtracks for Battlestar do not work for romance scenes. Creepy, menacing “what was that noise?” passages, oh heck yeah, but not romance.

Interestingly, when I’m working out, having music with English lyrics tends to kick certain scenes or to inspire others. I got a whole Rada ni Drako story out of Crüxshadows “My Valkyrie,” for example. “March of the Cambreath” by the artist formerly known as Heather Alexander is also good for rousing, rowdy moments, as long as I’m not trying to write them down. On the other hand, some heavy metal and black metal is almost impossible to understand in any language, so no problems using it for writing and exercise both.

So, what’s been on my playlist recently? David Arkenstone, Willi Boskovsky conducting Strauss waltzes, Two Steps from Hell, Ensemble Gallei and Neal Hellman (acoustic folk/neo Celtic), and the Estonian group Heinavanker (which is a lot like Anuna in terms of vocal music). Nightwish’s Imaginarium is on my iPod. (As an aside, I wouldn’t have gotten the album except for John Ringo’s comments about it. It seems to be growing on me, but I like their earlier sound better. This one is a bit like Trans-Siberian Orchestra meets Carnival of Souls).