I’ve mentioned before that I’m a musician by training and by trade. I also grew up in a household that always had some kind of noise going on. The television was always on, even if no one was watching it. It took me several years to get used to real quiet. I found it hard to study and concentrate without some kind of background noise.
When I was in college, I took classes on how to analyze music. For a long time afterwards I found it hard to simply listen to music for enjoyment’s sake and found myself listening critically to every piece of music.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found it increasingly hard to concentrate with extraneous sound in my environment. When writing, I’ve come to prefer one of two options: either total silence (which is next to impossible in our household) or listening to music with my Bose headphones.
When I do decide to plug in while writing, it’s often in an effort to drown out the noise going on around me. The problem comes when it’s time to figure out what to listen to. For me, I’ve determined that I can’t listen to music with lyrics, which typically means defaulting to classical music. But I’ve also discovered another genre that seems perfectly tailored to writing—movie soundtracks.
The obvious cinematic qualities of movie soundtracks are perfect for writing, especially fantasy fiction. It’s easy to find music that fits whatever you’re writing at the time: romantic scenes, battle sequences, mysterious characters, dire circumstances, you name it.
Here’s a short list of some of my favorite music to write by. Not all of them are movie soundtracks, but most are.
- The Serenity Soundtrack by David Newman
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack by Michael Kamen
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End soundtrack by Hans Zimmer
- Braveheart soundtrack
- Gladiator soundtrack by Hans Zimmer
- Ein Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms (as performed by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus)
- Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 (as performed by Alfred Brendel)
- Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 (as performed by Alfred Brendel)
As you can see, I have an affinity for Brahms. I’ve also found that nearly anything composed by Hans Zimmer is a winner for feeding my writing.
What music do you enjoy writing to? Please share in the comments.