The soundtrack to your writing...

BT Jones

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I'm curious to know what my fellow SFFers use to write to? Is it silence? Ambient noise from the street? Out of interest, I have an extensive playlist on iTunes with an eclectic mix of music categorised into 40 (yes 40) mood colours, which, in turn, are subdivided into three levels of prominence (prominent / minimalist / ambient). It has evolved extensively over time and is now an essential writing tool for me. I have a master playlist (3.5 days long) of the best / longest minimalist / ambient soundtracks and instrumentals, sorted by mood colour and with notable segues.

I'd be happy to share any playlists with any of you that were interested. I should probably do them on youtube or something, but I'm not much of a tuber.

Anyway, what does everyone else use?
 
Mahler/Shostakovitch/Sibelius. I used to have them on tapes when I was studying, and the habit has persisted,
 
My favourite is the three-album soundtrack of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, which is dramatic without being distracting. But mostly I'm happy for Media Player to chuck out a random selection from the CDs I've loaded onto my PC.
 
The sounds of the refrigerator going off and on, the ice maker refilling itself with water then dropping ice cubes into the tray, sometimes the dishwasher running through its cycle, the fan on my computer, the clicking of the keys, my dog snoring or snuffling in his sleep, and, depending on the time of the year, the heating or the air conditioning, sometimes rain, wind, or thunderstorms, often birds singing outside my open windows.
 
Ideally, the background hum of conversation in a cafe or coffee shop, or library, but as those are currently unavailable to me, the relative silence of a home in the middle of nowhere.

I find music with lyrics too distracting, and although I occasionally listen to instrumental music (usually film soundtracks), I can find that they influence my mood too much. For example, if I'm writing an action scene with short sentences and paragraphs, a breathless scene, the damn playlist inevitably decides to produce something lyrical and romantic for me to listen to. What I actually need is a tame composer (Howard Shore would fit the bill beautifully) to read over my shoulder, instantly compose suitable music to suit the mood and for an entire orchestra to telepathically read his music, playing it alongside the changing moods of my novel.

Simples. ;)
 
Ok, so I'm decidedly strange... I actually choose music based on what protagonist I'm writing. For example, one of the protagonists of my SF WiP is an oppressed soldier clone, so I regularly put on Les Miserables to get into the mindset of the character. Another from the same story is a prince from an anachronistic society, so I go with classical orchestra for general, and in certain contexts solo piano or violin.

So, for me, it's less about what mood I'm in and interested in, and more about what helps me get into the mind of the protagonist.
 
I require absolute silence when I write...guess how often that is? :cautious:

In any case, though I don't listen to inspirational music, I do generate soundtracks (including sound effects) to set moods for my chapters. Typically, at the end of a chapter to cap that one and set up for the next. In rare cases preceding a chapter, and in extremely rare cases, part way through the chapter before a significant shift in action when music, same with sound effects. Each of those, I'll add to forum posted alpha/beta additions of what I'm writing for my readers.

(not sure why, but soundcloud sound effects I use won't post here)

Naturally, if it wasn't such a nightmare to chase down and secure copyrights (sounds I generate, songs are not mine)--if I ever publish--they'd be part of digital editions and I'd find other ways to supply them for paper editions.

K2
 
Total silence. Whilst I have been known to walk and chew gum there is no way on earth I can write with music playing.*

*Though I write songs. There's a paradox for you. :unsure:
 
Here are three ditties to help with your writing ;)




K2
 
I can't concentrate without music. I quite like The Hu at the moment, or Nickelback, or my tidying up playlist with music ranging from queen and the levellers to greenday and the kinks. Something to wake my brain up. My previous attempt of a novel that made it to draft 1 was written to Black Sabbath.
 
Writing generally isn't any different to when I listen to music for any other reason - I'll have anything I like on.

There are exceptions e.g. if I'm up late writing and it should be wind-down time, or I'm for some reason finding almost anything distracting. My go-to then is usually Aural Method (it was years before I realised the song titles on this album make up a poem):

That's ambient post-rock I guess. I love that album so much. His second album and Slow Meadow material is very good too.

I may also turn to Hammock:

And for something more atmospheric and louder (a band that would make an epic dystopian and/or sci-fi soundtrack), Collapse Under The Empire:

Those three are all instrumental, though I don't find singing especially distracting in most music.

I have a Spotify melodic ambient playlist (not public as I need to whittle it down) and a dreamiest shoegaze playlist too. I'd love to check out a couple of your playlists. I do prefer music with melody, hence my "melodic ambient" rather than any ambient playlist. I don't tend to listen to ambient that goes on for ages without doing anything (Hammock do have a couple of albums like that).

Another exception is like @Joshua Jones - I may listen to music I feel is suited to my characters or the story itself. I actually wrote a story that heavily featured ABBA's music, so of course I had to listen to ABBA. I'd always appreciated they had some great pop songs, but found a greater appreciate through the process of my story. I've also written a story based on a mix CD, so listened to those songs when writing the scenes they were relevant to. Given I write a fair few dystopias, Collapse Under The Empire (mentioned above) feature often in my listening.
 
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I usually write without music, out of fear it will distract me or influence my mood. It is the evolving story itself that should determine the general tone and mood of it, not some incidental outer source.
Also, having spent all my working life at offices were radio's and the like were forbidden, on grounds that it would hinder people to concentrate on their job, I have gotten used to working in silence. Even now that I am retired and pottering about at home I do so mostly without any accompanying music. That is not to say I never listen to music. I do when I'm in the mood. In other words, I actively, not mindlessly, put some music on when I feel like it.

Having said all that, when I do turn on the radio (usually some station with 60&70's music), and I am concentrating on some task or reading a book, my ears shut down. To music, anyway. Conversations in the background are deadly to concentrating.
 
My favourite is the three-album soundtrack of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, which is dramatic without being distracting. But mostly I'm happy for Media Player to chuck out a random selection from the CDs I've loaded onto my PC.
I'll have to check that out!
 
The sounds of the refrigerator going off and on, the ice maker refilling itself with water then dropping ice cubes into the tray, sometimes the dishwasher running through its cycle, the fan on my computer, the clicking of the keys, my dog snoring or snuffling in his sleep, and, depending on the time of the year, the heating or the air conditioning, sometimes rain, wind, or thunderstorms, often birds singing outside my open windows.
An ambience man... I like it.
 
Ideally, the background hum of conversation in a cafe or coffee shop, or library, but as those are currently unavailable to me, the relative silence of a home in the middle of nowhere.

I find music with lyrics too distracting, and although I occasionally listen to instrumental music (usually film soundtracks), I can find that they influence my mood too much. For example, if I'm writing an action scene with short sentences and paragraphs, a breathless scene, the damn playlist inevitably decides to produce something lyrical and romantic for me to listen to. What I actually need is a tame composer (Howard Shore would fit the bill beautifully) to read over my shoulder, instantly compose suitable music to suit the mood and for an entire orchestra to telepathically read his music, playing it alongside the changing moods of my novel.

Simples. ;)
Couldn't agree more, which is why I have my music so fussily categorised. Sometimes if what's playing doesn't suit my mood or the scene, I switch it off. But when it clicks... it clicks. And, yeah, I hardly ever have music with lyrics, or anything with prominence.

If you are interested, I could send you some links to some longform pieces that might suit various different moods / genres.
 
Ok, so I'm decidedly strange... I actually choose music based on what protagonist I'm writing. For example, one of the protagonists of my SF WiP is an oppressed soldier clone, so I regularly put on Les Miserables to get into the mindset of the character. Another from the same story is a prince from an anachronistic society, so I go with classical orchestra for general, and in certain contexts solo piano or violin.

So, for me, it's less about what mood I'm in and interested in, and more about what helps me get into the mind of the protagonist.
I like it. And I think I might have to try that. Good idea.
 
I require absolute silence when I write...guess how often that is? :cautious:

In any case, though I don't listen to inspirational music, I do generate soundtracks (including sound effects) to set moods for my chapters. Typically, at the end of a chapter to cap that one and set up for the next. In rare cases preceding a chapter, and in extremely rare cases, part way through the chapter before a significant shift in action when music, same with sound effects. Each of those, I'll add to forum posted alpha/beta additions of what I'm writing for my readers.

(not sure why, but soundcloud sound effects I use won't post here)

Naturally, if it wasn't such a nightmare to chase down and secure copyrights (sounds I generate, songs are not mine)--if I ever publish--they'd be part of digital editions and I'd find other ways to supply them for paper editions.

K2
That sounds like a great idea. I'd love to do something similar but, as you say, copyright... Yeah, I could compile the perfect soundtrack to each of my chapters. If my work ever gets off the ground, perhaps I can commission someone to approximate them.
 

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