Monday, June 11, 2007

Listening to Music While Writing

Do you listen to music while you write? Does that music find a way into your article or story or does it distract you to insanity? First let me say I normally like all types of music. Just this past weekend, my family and I were celebrating my daughter's twenty-first birthday. We were out on the dance floor to all types of music which had our daughters and her friends in shock. Although us old fogies cut a rug, we didn't close down the bar like our children did. There are some limits to getting older.

I listen to various types of music while I write different scenes. Not always classical, although I do use classical pieces in this blog. I learned if I listen to vocalists I'm too busy singing to the song rather than focusing on what I'm writing. I like the orchestra type music while writing. There is a wide variety for every mood, or juncture in writing...uplifting, sad, suspenseful, dramatic, cute and if you look at it, it has all the types of writing just to name a few.

For other writer's it may be different, but then, I'm the Abby Normal sort.It can be inspiring. Right now I'm listening to Schubert's #9. It's bright and perky and suits the mood I'm writing in. When I write standard things like backgrounds, filler pieces, or the like, most likely what's coming through my headphones is something melodic and easy listening, like now. I find myself clicking my keyboard to the beat of the music with my head swaying, and my feet thumping in the rhythm.

When I'm writing about death, destruction, mayhem, suspense and impossible odds something more foreboding with tension works well.It raises my senses and allows me to feel the words. Like with the other piece of music my fingers pound the keyboard and my head nods up and down to the music. What I'm hearing interprets into what I'm writing. I sit up right, feel tense, and can't wait for the next words to fly from my brain. An example of this type of music is Holst's Planets, most notably "Mars, Bringer of War." Every note raises expectation so I write the same way. Every word I type lifts the tension in the piece.

Even with sadness, you follow the words and music through the piece. When I'm writing sadness, or depression or lost soul passages, it has to be Mozart's "Requiem" or Beethoven's "Fur Elise." To me there is nothing so downcast or broken. It will bring tears to your eyes. When I look at my writing of these scenes, I want my readers to feel what the character is feeling.

By the end of the piece, because of the length of this type music, I find my productivity increases. Of course this is only during the rough draft stage of any of my writing. At this stage it can be rough around the edges, but still have impact. While listening to Beethoven, my typing speed increases because of the fast tempo of his works. Even the lulls are swift with almost no rests. By writing this way, I tire quickly with so much emotion packed into a short period of time. Imagine typing to Haydn's "Concerto for Flute and Strings"...quick, quick, quick. No, two finger typists could keep up. Luckily, I'm a eight-finger typist...I can't use my left thumb and forget about my right pinky exists while typing.

Have you tried writing to music for inspiration? For impact? For stretching the imagination just one step farther than you were before you started. Try it some time. Put on a piece of music and imagine what the characters are sensing through the music.


Anonymous said...

Sure, I listen gothic music when the envioroment in my story is tense, sad or something dark feeling else.
When when it is funny or happy, I listen pop or jazz, sometimes blues.
Rock, punk and metal usually in some scenes.
Punk rock music when there are teenagers getting fun.

Tremens said...

Actually, music is imperative for me to write passionately. It is kind of hard to explain, but I'd say that despite the fact that I love to write (even studied in the creative writing field), I am first and foremost a melomaniac. Being in a silent environment is too distracting for me to write ; maybe should I thank my short attention span, a plague shared by most people of my generation.

You mention classical music as your main musical focus ; in that field, my favorite composer -- by far -- is Philip Glass, whom I couldn't recommend you enough. Otherwise, my own focus would be as broad as my musical tastes, as long as it conveys strong emotion. Trip-hop, ambient electronic, even most genres of metal are amongst my favorite.

Sorry for my poor english, it's not my mother-tongue :)


A Fellow Writer said...

I usually listen to the album Reign In Blood by Slayer while writing.

Anonymous said...

This is very insightful! I'v never really tried music (while writing) before, but it sounds like it would help a lot! Thank you so much for the advice!

Anonymous said...

I actually do listen to music while writing and love it. I also wrote a short article about it at: