Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Limitless Impact of Music on Writing

Every author has a ritual when writing. For example one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk, chooses to write in places like crowded parks where he will be completely and utterly distracted.
I'm a bit different, and what you might consider more traditional, depending on your knowledge of writers.

I prefer to be left isolated in a room with my noise-cancelling headphones on while a steady stream of music drifts into my ears.
Let's get the obvious out of the way; music is inspiring. It is the single greatest medium for expresing emotions and tones. You hear a happy song and you feel like smiling, you hear an angry song and you want to shout it out, or you hear a sad song and get reminded of memories you wish you could forget. The best songs not only do this, but they beg to be sung or played along with, and every time you hear them you can't resist imagining it was you who wrote and performed that song.

My greatest wish when writing is that I can somehow convey that same calibur of emotion through storytelling alone.
This is somewhat the tone I listen to.
Beautiful, yet hiding something darker.
Typically this is where my modest library of soundtracks comes in. Soundtracks are nothing but moods, and they're typically wordless so I don't need to worry about getting distracted and singing along. My stories have always tended to have dark undertones, so two of my favorite soundtracks to fall back on are The Fight Club Soundtrack and The Social Network Soundtrack. It's important to note that these are surely not for everyone, but that in fact Fight Club is my favorite movie and The Social Network's soundtrack was composed by my favorite musician. The two movies also happen to have been directed by my favorite director, so it's no doubt that the reason I fall back on these soundtracks so often is not just because of their quality and parallel tones to what I want to write, but also because these are the movies and people that inspire and influence me.

Another album worth mentioning is, Ghosts I-IV, of which the first nine songs are free to download from that (the official) website. The reason it is great to listen to whilst writing is best explained by the artist's explanation of the album itself: "This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective - dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams."

The music doesn't have to be wordless or composed for a movie, of course (and not every soundtrack I have is the same tone as those mentioned above). That's just what I tend to fall back on. I've listened to video game music, metal, pop, and all other sorts of music to get me into whatever mood I need. In my most recent novel I've even been experimenting with listening to the favorite style of music or favorite band of whichever particular character I'm focusing on at that instance; that way it's more like I'm getting into the character's head and seeing things from their perspective. It's actually very enlightening.

Perhaps someday a story or two of mine will have their own soundtracks.

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