The music of writing (part 1)

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Well, while I wait for my chosen readers to get back to me with their thoughts on my novel, I thought I’d take a moment and talk about music. More specifically, I thought I’d talk about the music I like to write to.

I am not a person who enjoys silence. Whether I’m reading, writing, or even trying to go to sleep, silence drives me to distraction. My brain misses the input of sound, and in its place my mind wanders unceasingly, so I always have to have some sort of sound playing. When I go to sleep I (my wife needs this too, so I know I’m not alone in my peculiarity) use a sound machine that generates a rain-like noise that fills the room. When we go on trips, I use my iPod and a set of speakers for the same function. 

When I’m reading or writing, though, I prefer to listen to music. When I’m reading I can listen to almost anything, but when I’m writing I usually stick to instrumental pieces, as the sound of a person singing will occasionally distract me from the intensive task of typing the story I see playing against the inside of my skull. Movie and video game scores work the best, as they usually focus on themes, and for whatever reason those get my mind in the proper gear for when I need to setup a mood. Classical music is also a good source, but the complexity of some pieces can actually work against me. So, most of the time, I play a soundtrack when I settle down to write, and it makes all the difference.

John Williams is, of course, a great source of inspiration. Whether we’re talking about his scores for Star Wars, Jurassic Park, or Indiana Jones, his ability to create a sense of excitement and wonder is almost unmatched. My personal favorites are the scores for Episode III and Episode VI, both of which have a goodly mix of dark and light elements, evoking heroism and villainy in equal measure.

David Arkenstone, while not a film score composure, is another one of my go-to musicians. His CD’s can be found in the New Age section of most music stores, but most of it sounds like soundtracks for movies not yet made. How Hollywood hasn’t discovered him yet, I don’t know. The first work of his I ever heard was “In The Wake Of The Wind.” I bought that CD back in 1990, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since. “Atlantis” and “Celtic Book Of Days” are two other CD’s that see heavy rotation when I write.

Tommy Tallarico composed the score for the video game “Advent Rising.” While I have not finished the game (I’ve only played the first couple of levels), I can tell you that the score is magnificent. It swells with drama, and the choral work is divine. I heartily recommend it.

The last piece I’ll mention with this entry is the score for the film “Wing Commander.” While I still haven’t forgiven Chris Roberts for ruining the translation of his video game franchise onto the big screen, I do think the score for the movie is incredible. Kevin Kiner was the composer, and it is a favorite of mine. How something so wonderful could come from such a terrible movie is a mystery I’ll never unravel.

Well, I think that’s all for the moment. There are other pieces that I should mention, and in the future I will. If you are like me and you prefer to write while listening to music, then I recommend you seek out the CD’s I’ve listed here. You won’t be sorry.