My last post was about tinnitus and how it inhibited me from (most of the time) listening to music while I was writing. I went on to mention that I do occasionally listen to certain types of music while writing certain scenes.
Today I'm going to delve into what music I actually listen to when writing.
I break it down into four general categories completely of my own invention: evocative; action; timely; and romantic.
|Why, yes, this is what "cool" looks like.|
The second short story I published with Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine was a tale about a mob "fixer" in 1962 Las Vegas. It was titled "Suicide Blonde."
The entire time I worked on this story I had Miles Davis' immortal "Kind of Blue" (1959) playing in the background. I know it's been mentioned so many times that it's pretty much a cliché, but 50s/60s club jazz is practically a soundtrack for the crime fiction of the era.
Songs such as "So What?", "Freddie Freeloader, and especially "All Blues" just paint a picture for me: a landscape populated by slick guys in sharp suits, driving long cars with fins, dating glamorous women...
Yep, Davis's stuff from the era definitely helped set the mood.
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How about we start with the hair?
As I mentioned in my last post, I listen to a lot of soundtrack stuff when I'm writing action scenes. (How the West Was Won, I mentioned explicitly). But I don't just listen to soundtracks and western themes when writing action. I listen to anything with a driving, compelling beat. I once listened to Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55", the Scorpions' "Lovedrive" and Golden Earring's "Radar Love" over and over on a loop while writing a car chase scene (and did it for so long that I still haven't listened to any of them since!).
Similar to evocative above, but not necessarily the same thing. These are literally "period pieces," music written and performed during the era I'm writing about. For example, I write a lot of mid-19th century America stuff. And if you're gonna use mid-19th century American music, you've got two choices: Stephen Foster, and anything else.
Foster just depresses me.
|And I think it's pretty clear WHY…|
|Oh come on! The medals! That mustache!|
This guy practically screams FUN!
Gottschalk's stuff is both timely and evocative. I listen to it a goodly bit while writing in the period. I am partial to the interpretations of Laure Favre-Kahn, but your mileage may vary.
Which leaves us with …
And by this I mean "emotional" more than "lovestruck" (although the two are hardly mutually exclusive). Any good singer-songwriter stuff will work for these scenes: Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Sarah McLaughlin, Elton John. Stuff that makes you FEEL.
And yes, that includes stuff by THIS guy:
|I defy you to listen to "The Pretender" and not have an emotional response!|
How about you? What music gets your right words flowing?