Writing Music

I’m very particular about what I listen to when I write. I don’t often write without music on, as I find the silence as distracting as the wrong song, but it can be so difficult to find the ‘right’ song.

I’m in the habit of making playlists of songs that suit my characters – a film soundtrack, if you will – the sort of songs I can put on and instantly be put in mind of the characters and their situations. It’s more of a memory aid though, than a tool to faciliate the actual writing process. I make playlists like a musical record of the plot, the highs and lows of the narrative, but when it comes to writing those highs and lows I find the lyrics of the songs distracting. They become like other stories trying to impinge on the one I’m hoping to tell. Plus I have this really silly habit of thinking really hard about a sentence then typing out the last lyric I listened to…

So when it comes to actually putting little pixels letters to virtual paper, I much prefer orchestral music. Mark Charan Newton’s blog introduced me to two new composers yesterday, who I’ve been listening to avidly. Very beautiful, very piano based stuff. And I do like my piano music. So much so, I’ve just gone and spent fifteen quid I don’t really have on one of the books.

(Buying music books is like a compulsion. If I don’t buy one for a few months I get itchy fingers…)

My favourite albums to listen to while writing

1. Classical FM at the Movies – loads of fab movie themes, with something for every mood of scene. Three discs of brilliance.

2. The Piano, Michael Nyman – as I said, I have a penchant for piano music, and these haunting melodies are particularly beautiful.

3. The Celtic Book of Days, David Arkenstone – while this has some tracks I enjoy less than the others, at it’s best it’s brilliant. I’m most fond of Cailleach’s Whisper, which I could listen to on repeat for hours.

4. Rodrigo y Gabriella, Rodrigo y Gabriella – saw these guys first at V Festival a few years ago. Absolutely amazing. Music that gets right in your heart.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, simply my favourites.

Incidentally, my current prompt playsist contains the following songs:

1. Howl, Florence and the Machine

2. Stuck on Repeat, Little Boots

3. Again, Karima Francis

4. Under the Sheets, Ellie Goulding

5. Uniform, Bloc Party

6. Into the Chaos, Howling Bells

7. Kiss With a Fist, Florence and the Machine

Can you guess what it’s about?

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