Music to Write To

I’ve become one of those writers who needs background music, both to help set scene mood and to drown out household noise. Why not just shut the office door? Because a closed door is an Abomination unto Catness and leads to pounding on the door, plaintive meows, and MomRed fussing because I’m being mean to the poor cat . . . And because I need to be able to hear what’s going on in the house, for various reasons. Instrumental music is loud enough to mute other sounds, quiet enough to hear over, and doesn’t distract me the way vocals do. I’m too conditioned to listening for cues after 30+ years of choral and other singing. So what have I been listening to?

The Cat books usually require symphonic metal, movie soundtracks, or Epic Music like Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, Future World Music, Trailerhead, Epic North, and Epic Score. The Battlestar Galactica reboot soundtracks are fantastic for “Gee, I wonder what’s down this dark passageway, look at the neat skeleton, I wonder where the head is?” don’t-open-that-door-! scenes. However, when Rada and Joschka are together? Strauss, especially his concert waltzes: “An de Schöner blauer Donau,” “Frülingswalz,” and most especially the “Imperial Waltz.” Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”, second movement, led to the scene in the Alhambra in the forthcoming Cat novel. The new story for the Christmas Cat story set (official release Friday) was pure Future World Music: A Hero Will Rise, Reign of Vengeance, and Behold.

The Colplatschki books tend to get Renaissance and Classical music, aside from battle scenes. I recall putting Praetorius on loop for long sections of Blackbird, and Rachmaninov and Gretchaninov, along with one of those cheap Russian classical compilations got a lot of play during the most recent three Colplatschki volumes. Russian Orthodox chant is good for quiet, thoughtful scenes.

The Rajworld books are interesting. You’d think I’d lean toward music from India, or Asian-flavored songs. No, organ concerti and Vaughn Williams symphonies predominated, with Audiomachine and BrunuhVille a close second, and Russian Orthodox chant. Ensemble Galilei, a Celtic instrumental group, appeared as well. The second book went through a bout of Strauss, but the scenes were at dances, so it fit.

Yesterday I loaded the iLeash with Christmas music for walking, mostly the Christmas Revels, Bright Day Star by the Boston Camerata, and a few other older, sprightly Medieval and folk collections. I have a passion for old, odd music for Christmastide. I rarely write to it, though, because my mind locks onto the lyrics and the Muse throws up her hands and stomps off, the better to ambush me at awkward moments. Like during the sermon when the camera is on me because of where I sit in the choir.


6 thoughts on “Music to Write To

  1. BrunuhVille? *loses two hours on youtube*

    Ooh, Abney Park has a new album out! Wait, um, music for writing? Okay, Epic music comes in a large chunk of the playlist, including Two Steps From Hell, Brand X Music, Factor Eight, Jo Blankenberg, Thomas Bergersen, John Dreamer, Vlado Hudec, and “best of” compilations on the Epic Music VN channel.

    But I also tend to like things I’ve danced to, where the words have gotten worn over years (in my ears) into indistinguishable from the music, like Cruxshadows, Sisters Of Mercy, Wolfsheim, Assemblage 23, VNV Nation, Edge of Dawn, etc. Or, for the more chill things, Orbital & Chicane, and some Tiesto remixes.

    • I’ve got a few of those, mostly on my “fight music” list for when I’m choreographing mayhem and don’t need to be locked into the scene. Cruxshadows “Valkurie” triggered a story that will probably end up in the next-next Cat book. (Because the next one is already at 115,000 words {!}).

  2. In addition to the awesome suggestions mentioned above, I’d like to add anime soundtracks, particularly the instrumental stuff. Cowboy Bebop, Last Exile, Read or Die, and Gundam Seed all have soundtracks with extensive instrumental pieces. Gundam Seed even has symphonic versions of some of the songs.

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