The Sound of Music
Music plays a key role in the process of many writers. I’ve blogged before about what songs inspired the writing of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush, but given how wide-ranging a topic music and its role in the creative process is, I thought I'd open up the discussion here on Inside a Dog.
As much as music by artists like Muse, David Bowie, Kanye West, Bjork and the Smashing Pumpkins drive my imagination, I can often find it distracting to listen to songs containing vocals when writing. So what do you do if you want musical accompaniment without a singer interrupting your thought process?
Well, I break out orchestral movie soundtracks, that’s what! This can be tricky in itself, though. Certain movies have very iconic soundtracks – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings – that leave me picturing nothing but scenes from those movies. If you go too far in the other direction, however, and pick something really generic, then it just becomes background noise. You want something that spurs your imagination but doesn’t overwhelm it with whatever the soundtrack is associated with.
This varies for everybody, of course. Personally, I have a few ‘go to’ composers/soundtracks. The first would be Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy. It’s a perfect blend of epic, orchestral grandeur and dark, synthetic beats.
From there, I’d go on to recommend the work of Ben Foster and Murray Gold. They’ve been working in tandem together the past few years on the music for both Doctor Who and Torchwood, providing the kind of incredible scope you’d expect of a blockbuster film, rather than a weekly TV series. I saw Ben Foster perform the music from Doctor Who live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – yes, I’m that geeky – and it was staggering.
Yoko Kanno is a Japanese composer who works primarily in anime, and her soundtracks for Cowboy Bebop and Macross Plus demonstrate a musical versatility that other performers would be rightly jealous of. For years, I had her music on the same playlist that featured Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, and the two have become forevermore blurred together in my brain.
Finally, Two Steps from Hell is a band I’d highly recommend, even though they aren’t a band. Instead, they’re a company that produces music for movie trailers, with their songs being used in previews for everything from Harry Potter to The Dark Knight. As a result, they’ve produced a huge catalogue of music, covering almost every mood and style you can think of.
So now that you’ve gotten this insight into what makes up my writing playlist, I’d like to turn the question on you guys. What music do you play when writing? And on the other hand, is there music you listen to when reading? Let us know in the comments section below!