Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Emotional Soundtracking

Music is the hottest of the muses. I feel in recent years the importance and usefullness of using appropriate music to enhance the writing experience has registered in the writerly zeitgeist. Certainly i have been advocating it in Deathpixies meetings for years, but i also hear writers are putting out playlists of songs to go with their novels. I, myself, could give you, down to the song in each chapter, the playlist of my current novel in progress.
Of course listening to music is a good idea while writing, anytime you are sitting in front of your computer for those lengths of time, putting on a good pair of headphones and listening to music seems like a no-brainer to me. The particular practice i would like to plug here is SPECIFIC SOUNDTRACKING. I find it helpful, and really pretty fun, to use certain emotional themes that match whats going on in the story. No one denies that an effectively chosen song can literally double the effectivness of a scene in a film, why should we shortchange the movies playing out in our heads and going on to the page. Picking a really sad song list to listen to, while having sad stuff happen just psyches me into the right headspace. Maudlin perhaps, but your reader may appreciate you really getting into it. Getting into the emotions of a scene always seems to help my writing, and nothing gets you there like music.
Its gotten to the point where i have completely usurped some songs and now all i can think about when i hear them is the character whose theme they are to me. Music encapsulates emotions and moments, which is just what writers do. It seems a natural combination.

How about the rest of you? How do you implement music into your writing process? And for that matter how emotionally invested do you get? Does your heart rate raise when a fight breaks out in your story? Do you get butterflies when your characters catch eyes across the danceroom floor? Boy mine does.


Anonymous said...

I've made iTunes playlists for several of my latest projects, and it's helped a lot. Not only does the music help me capture the mood of a scene, but it pops me into the project faster when I'm starting up each night. Seeing as I only get a couple hours a day to write, the faster I get into it the better.

Plus, who doesn't need an excuse to buy more music?

Shawn Enderlin said...

I almost always have the music on while I'm writing. I will occasionally choose music that fits the mood of what I'm writing but more often than not anything in my 'writing' playlist on iTunes does just fine. My only real requirement is that music can't have too many words because then I find myself singing along!

But back to the music/mood front. Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV is my current favorite for any creepy scene. if I really need to concentrate then it's Sasha all the way. Other staples: Hernan Cattaneo, Tosca, Underworld, Orbital, BT.

Jon said...

I find that I listen to music too much when it's playing, that it distracts me too often, and I can't wear headphones at all when I'm writing. I get lost in my own head too much.

However, I can have the TV playing in the background. My favorite writing time is when I'm home during the week (in days long gone by) and I'm writing at the dining room table and the TV is tuned to those hilarious Judge shows or maybe Maury Povich or something like that... the things people say, the way they talk, it's perfect for writing dialogue and general craziness.

Laura Bradley Rede said...

I can't listen to music much while I write because I get distracted by the lyrics, but there are songs on the radio that I associate strongly with certain characters or scenes in my book and I have been known to listen to those on repeat while I clean the house, etc., to get me thinking about my story when I'm not writing. I don't think I would ever put my book's "play list" up online the way some writers do, however, since my taste in music is fairly lame and I think I might loose readers rather than gain them ! :)