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View Full Version : Do you listen to music when you write?



Radhika
12-06-2010, 08:34 AM
I know writing takes a lot of concentration, but how many of us write an listen to music?
If so, what kind of music do you listen to?

I confess, I am an unproductive multi-tasker. I listen to the hip music of the younger crowd (I leave my radio on, and if there's a certain song I like, I YouTube it). I would love to transition myself to genius works of classical such as Beethoven, but I can't seem to find longer kinds that will just play like Symphony No. 9 for free. (I blame the age for not being able to buy it).

Zelenka
12-06-2010, 08:44 AM
I've got playlists for different projects with music that will put me into the mood for that story. Right now it's a lot of Smetana and some Dvorak. But it depends what I'm working on.

Caitlin Black
12-06-2010, 10:37 AM
Currently Cradle Of Filth and Chalice.

Eudoxia
12-06-2010, 01:06 PM
Pretty much music gives me ideas for a story. I listen very closely to the lyrics or tune and then ideas just start popping like popcorn in my head. I've been greatly inspired by some songs by Yoko Kanno to write a cyberpunk novel. :D

Ken
12-06-2010, 02:55 PM
... sometimes. Usually it's bebop, by Bird and the like. Helps me to escape the shackles of normality and write what I want. Not to say Bird was off. He just did his own thing, w/o apologies. One cool cat :-)

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 03:19 PM
No. While I'm writing it puts me off, although I do have soundtracks for various books which I listen to when I'm away from the computer or preparing to get back to work. (And by soundtracks I don't mean mix tapes; I'm too lazy for that. I mean pre-recorded albums by my favourite groups and soloists).

seun
12-06-2010, 06:44 PM
Yes. Usually start off with some rock or anything that I can play with a bit of volume. Then near the end of my writing day, I go mellower. Nothing dull. Just something that is more relaxing than angry, shouting men.

Adam
12-06-2010, 06:55 PM
Yup. From Cradle of Filth to classical violin, depending on the scenes I'm writing. Lately I've been listening to a radio station (OZFM) too, but it can be hard to focus during the speaking/adverts.

Perks
12-06-2010, 06:55 PM
I can't listen to music or have any significant sounds crowding my thoughts while I'm working. It makes me angry.

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 06:57 PM
Has anyone ever gone from one way of working to the other? I naturally prefer silence, but I'd like to train myself to work to music, so I can still work while out of the house (using an mp3 player to drown out background noise).

Just wondered if it was possible, or if it's better to stick to your default setting. It's easier, I know, but would like to be able to work either way.

Adam
12-06-2010, 07:00 PM
Has anyone ever gone from one way of working to the other? I naturally prefer silence, but I'd like to train myself to work to music, so I can still work while out of the house (using an mp3 player to drown out background noise).

Just wondered if it was possible, or if it's better to stick to your default setting. It's easier, I know, but would like to be able to work either way.

When I first started, I had to have complete silence or I couldn't concentrate. I love music though so I trained myself, starting with instrumentals (no distracting lyrics), then worked up to regular music and now radio. Took a while, but I'm glad I did it. :)

The next stage is writing while my brother talks to me about his latest racing game. Tough one, that.

Ineti
12-06-2010, 07:00 PM
I almost always listen to soundtracks or other non-lyrical music while I write. I can't write in silence.

CaroGirl
12-06-2010, 07:03 PM
No. I like a whole lot of silence when I'm writing.

quickWit
12-06-2010, 07:20 PM
I can't listen to music or have any significant sounds crowding my thoughts while I'm working. It makes me angry.

Hey! We're, like, twins!

*fart*

seun
12-06-2010, 07:21 PM
Has anyone ever gone from one way of working to the other? I naturally prefer silence, but I'd like to train myself to work to music, so I can still work while out of the house (using an mp3 player to drown out background noise).

Just wondered if it was possible, or if it's better to stick to your default setting. It's easier, I know, but would like to be able to work either way.

It's possible for me; I just prefer music. I know the writing is going well if I have on an album with the odd track I usually skip. If I'm really into what I'm writing, I barely notice the tracks I'd skip.

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 07:30 PM
Do you music-nerds ever find yourself writing according to the music's mood? I'm not sure if listening to Richard Wagner while writing a tender love scene, for instance, would be a bad idea or not. :D

Georgia Lee
12-06-2010, 07:42 PM
I listen to music when I write. It helps me A LOT. I'll choose a station on pandora according to the mood of the scene I'm writing and it helps me really get into it.

Right now I'm listening to:

kings of leon - action
the fray/the script - general drama
john mayer/colbie callait - softer scenes

It works like a dream. :)

Perks
12-06-2010, 07:44 PM
Hey! We're, like, twins!

*fart*
Just when I thought it couldn't get any Monday-ier.

LaceWing
12-06-2010, 08:11 PM
Music grabs me or it doesn't. When it does I just want to go there. When it doesn't it's an irritant. Plus, I need to listen to the rhythm of my sentences as I write.

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 08:16 PM
Hey! We're, like, twins!

*fart*
Just when I thought it couldn't get any Monday-ier.Perks doesn't fart. She has no arsehole.

tjwriter
12-06-2010, 08:27 PM
Do you music-nerds ever find yourself writing according to the music's mood? I'm not sure if listening to Richard Wagner while writing a tender love scene, for instance, would be a bad idea or not. :D
I started writing to music to do the whole drowning out others things and ended up finding a CD called Celtic Whispers or somesuch that captured the mood of what I was writing very well. Every time I hear that now, I want to go write up a storm, but the words that come to me are somber, sad and haunted.

I do suggest instrumentals for writing though. Lyrics are distracting about 2/3 of the time. I haven't figured out what makes the other 1/3 special enough to tolerate lyrics, though.

CheekyWench
12-06-2010, 08:30 PM
I almost always listen to soundtracks or other non-lyrical music while I write. I can't write in silence.

I'm the same way. The only lyrical music I can really listen to is Interpol, The Shins, and The Editors. I think it's because they seem to invoke a lot of thought/emotion with their lyrics.
Then I'll find myself listening to industrial stations on pandora. I dunno. lol

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 08:32 PM
I started writing to music to do the whole drowning out others things and ended up finding a CD called Celtic Whispers or somesuch that captured the mood of what I was writing very well. Every time I hear that now, I want to go write up a storm, but the words that come to me are somber, sad and haunted.

I do suggest instrumentals for writing though. Lyrics are distracting about 2/3 of the time. I haven't figured out what makes the other 1/3 special enough to tolerate lyrics, though.I listened to Clannad while I was editing my shapeshifter novel. That was as much as I could handle. Brief rewrites, but mostly crossing-out, marking up and transcribing onto the computer document.

I also like the Gladiator soundtrack for editing to.

scarletpeaches
12-06-2010, 08:32 PM
Just when I thought it couldn't get any Monday-ier.http://i980.photobucket.com/albums/ae287/scarlettparrish/Bunnypissesoff.jpg

quickWit
12-06-2010, 09:02 PM
http://i980.photobucket.com/albums/ae287/scarlettparrish/Bunnypissesoff.jpg

funneh...I don't recall giving permission for you to use my likeness, Peach.

jilly61
12-07-2010, 12:33 AM
I like silence as I write. The tapping of the keyboard is music to my ears.

brainstorm77
12-07-2010, 03:28 AM
no

scarletpeaches
12-07-2010, 03:32 AM
I prefer to listen to the tortured screams of my enemies.

cmi0616
12-07-2010, 03:34 AM
I've got a different playlist for different projects. For instance, the novel i'm working on right now is a bit dark so the music is a bit darker and slower:

Oh My Sweet Carolina- Ryan Adams
Where She Told Me To Go- Eric Church
Straight Time- Bruce Springsteen
Fraction of A Man- Shawn Mullins
Posters- Jack Johnson
Nobody Girl- Ryan Adams
Devils and Dust- Bruce Sprinsteen
The Weary Kind- Ryan Bingham
Ironic- Alanis Morrisette
Dear Chicago- Ryan Adams

scarletpeaches
12-07-2010, 03:35 AM
I like silence as I write. The tapping of the keyboard is music to my ears.I installed Sound Pilot - makes the laptop sound like Ye Olde Typewriter.

Belle_91
12-07-2010, 03:54 AM
When I was in study hall in school and I would write I would listen to the "Little Women" "Becoming Jane" and "Pride and Prejudice" sound tracks. My story took place during the civil war-and in Massachusetts- so Little Women was fitting, and I listened to the other two just to change it up a bit.

Caitlin Black
12-07-2010, 05:04 AM
Yup. From Cradle of Filth to classical violin, depending on the scenes I'm writing. Lately I've been listening to a radio station (OZFM) too, but it can be hard to focus during the speaking/adverts.

Yay! Another Cradle Of Filth fan! *black metal high five* Brainstorm's a lucky lady. ;)


Has anyone ever gone from one way of working to the other? I naturally prefer silence, but I'd like to train myself to work to music, so I can still work while out of the house (using an mp3 player to drown out background noise).

Just wondered if it was possible, or if it's better to stick to your default setting. It's easier, I know, but would like to be able to work either way.

Okay, well, I used to write without music. For me it was about focussing on the job at hand. Then I started writing in the lounge room on my laptop, and mum and sis were always in that room talking. So I started to listen to my mp3 player to drown them out. Since then, I've listened to music whenever I write.

It's probably easiest to get used to if you know there will be people speaking near you when you are writing. Music > senseless chatter.

And if I'm in any way normal with my experiences, then you should find that you can get into your writing groove within maybe an hour or two of practicing with music. Pretty soon you just won't notice the music while you're in the zone.

One key thing - volume. If it's too low, it makes it harder to get into the zone. If it's too high, you do focus on the music more than you should. Experimenting with volume levels is pretty crucial to begin with.

Recently I've been doing something like, "Put music on. Start writing. It's too low, and I get distracted by my own thoughts. Turn up higher. Write 300 more words. It's too loud, I'm listening to the music. Adjust volume. Find a spot in the 'sweet range' for that day (and sweet ranges change over time, at least they do for me) and knock out the rest of my daily quota not really thinking about the music.

Currently, the music on my computer is too loud to write to. It's not excessively loud - like, my sister down the other end of the house can't hear it - but it's not in my current sweet range. I've been focussing on the music too much while typing this post.

But that has given me another piece of wisdom. If the music is too quiet, I get bored and do something else. If it's too loud, my writing slows down while my brain waits for opportune moments to think proper thoughts.

It's all about the sweet range, and getting used to writing to music while it's better than listening to other people talk.

(And no, I can't write when someone is talking to me...)

/ramble

jilly61
12-07-2010, 02:52 PM
I installed Sound Pilot - makes the laptop sound like Ye Olde Typewriter.

That sounds perfect.

Adam
12-07-2010, 05:50 PM
Yay! Another Cradle Of Filth fan! *black metal high five* Brainstorm's a lucky lady. ;)

RAWR!

(And so true lol)

:D

Button
12-07-2010, 06:52 PM
I like to listen to someone reading a book before I write.

Nothing like hearing Tim Curry or Simon Jones in your head as you type every word of your book.

While I'm writing, if I have music it has to be classical or anything without words and it has to be familiar. If it has words, I'll sing along. If it's unfamiliar, it'll jar me if I'm listening to it. If it's familiar, I know what's coming so I only really "listen" when I hit a slow spot. Otherwise it's background noise.

kayleamay
12-07-2010, 09:17 PM
Sometimes I listen...to stuff.

Vito
12-08-2010, 04:22 AM
When I wrote my M.A. thesis back in the 1990s, I listened to the Black Crowes, Humble Pie, the Rolling Stones..."keg party music", really. Lately I listen to quiet classic jazz -- Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Chet Baker (his instrumental albums only, because I don't like his singing voice), Kenny Dorham, etc.

S.J.
12-08-2010, 07:48 PM
I listened to Clannad while I was editing my shapeshifter novel. That was as much as I could handle. Brief rewrites, but mostly crossing-out, marking up and transcribing onto the computer document.

I also like the Gladiator soundtrack for editing to.


I love Clannad. :D

And yeah - I can't imagine writing without music. Lyrics don't bother me: I zone them out, and at the moment, Beyonce is my soundtrack of choice.

Tom from UK
12-08-2010, 08:28 PM
I'm trying to write about India. Awkward as I've never been there. I asked an Indian friend to recommend some music and it seemed to help.

Kandybar
12-08-2010, 08:32 PM
I change what I'm listening to depending on what I'm writing. Fantasy usually gets either symphonic metal or hard rock, depending on the scene. Editing gets Eurodance. I'm not sure why that works, exactly. Love scenes get pop.

However, there are times when the music is just too much and I need silence. It varies day to day.

Manuel Royal
12-10-2010, 07:49 PM
I'm trying to write about India. Awkward as I've never been there. I asked an Indian friend to recommend some music and it seemed to help.I've got a CD of traditional Indian music (it actually came with some packaged vegetable korma I got at the farmers' market). I like it, but my cat won't stay in the room if I play it. I need him around to bounce ideas off of, so the music doesn't work.

Actually, up until this very morning I would have said I work in silence. See, I've accumulated a pretty good eclectic list of iTunes downloads, with the idea that it would be my background music for writing. But I found that I kept stopping to listen to the songs I really liked, and thinking about the lyrics. Occasionally this led to an idea I could use, but more often it was a distraction and I didn't get the work done on my actual project. So, I usually write with no music.

But -- this morning I tried an album called "Top 40 Arabic Classic Bar Grooves". 40 tracks. That's three hours of music; I think it cost about five dollars to download. Perfect for my needs -- it's all either instrumental or with the vocals in languages I don't speak; the rhythms are somehow stimulating and relaxing at the same time. I might play this thing every day.

KyraDune
12-11-2010, 07:51 AM
I always listen to music when I write and I'm into a lot of different genres. Country, Rock, Pop, Alternative, Classic, Hair Metal, etc. etc. basically if I like a song I like it no matter what genre it's in.

Chicago Expat
03-30-2011, 10:27 PM
I always listen to music when I write. I try to stick with old and familiar albums; anything new tends to distract me from the writing. Also, I build the albums into my writing routine... I'll listen to the same album to start my writing day, then move onto the next and the next and so on, just as I did the previous day. The music almost acts as triggers and/or benchmarks to the routine. I'll say to myself, well, I'm listening to Benjamin Koppel right now, which is when I'm just getting myself into the frame of mind for writing. Then a Bill Frisell will be next and I'll think, well, when this album comes on I'm usually daydreaming up some interactions between the characters so let's get moving on that. Later on, when I put an E.S.T. album in, the thought that each of the previous ten days when this album came on, the writing really picked up... and typically the same thing will happen on the current day.

Usually when I'm in the heart of my writing day, I can mix in some different albums, but they usually have the same sound as others I've played during that time on previous days.

And when a writing stretch is over, I'll go months with listening to everything else in my music library, but only once, like a palette cleanser.

But I listen to a lot of music all the time, writing or not, so it's not a distraction to me for the most part.

SinisterCola
03-30-2011, 10:52 PM
Yes. Keeps me focused. In addition to all the rock and metal music I listen to, I have various movie soundtracks and video game soundtracks - perfect for helping me establish an atmosphere for a scene!