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AYOW: Music for Writing?

Hey, Oort-beasts!

Been a while I know. Got caught up in life and putting a few dozen pages in on my novel.

Music is immensely important in my life. Right up there with my family, yoga and writing. I'd rather go blind than deaf. With my writing, music plays an important part, more in the creation, not in the actual story. For the above-mentioned novel, I actually compiled a playlist in iTunes for it. It was mostly songs that fit the tone of the story and the atmosphere, and some that were conducive to writing for me (how sad when the computer that had it died unexpectedly, sending it to MP3 heaven. Sigh...)

When I write, I need something immersive and engaging and meditative in a way (often to drown out the TV which the kid is watching and despite my best efforts is cranked up to 11!). But not hypnotic or mind-numbing (forgive me, it's early, yet). Sometimes electronic (or "tech-no" as the kids call it) does the trick. But then sometimes I need something dronier. Other times the muse calls for instrumental rock, anything from surf music a la Dick Dale, Link Wray or The Ventures. And sometimes it's post-rock like Explosions in the Sky or Cathode.

Most of the time I listen to Internet radio, ala

So the question today is: What's your preferred writing music? Bonus if you expound on with or without headphones and why.

Here's some more of mine:

Venetian Snares (if I need to crank out stuff in a hurry)
Talking Heads ("Remain in Light" especially)
Vladislav Delay (anything)
Richard H Kirk
Tito Puente
Fela Kuti

I can't

I can't listen music when i'm job, write articel for my blog and etc.
Regards, Tom

kelson.philo's picture

I can't listen to music when

I can't listen to music when I write. It's sad, i would really like to, but it just doesn't work. cage might work, as a lot of his stuff can fall into background noise fairly easily (noooo, i'm not disrespectin' tha man), but in general, the hands and ears don't like werking together. Focus is all wrong.

Now, strangely enough, if a piece of music gets stuck in my head, for whatever reason, I can use that for bouncing words off of. Not sure what is going on there, and when I look back at the prose, it certainly doesn't look lyrical. It's almost like once the inputz are, hm...., registered, then I can make use of it.

You are wired up in a very special way, it seems.

Seriously, it ain't a bad thing. Some people I know need TOTAL silence to get anything done.

Curious about the lyrical bouncing off thingie. Kinda cool!

- C R T
--------------------------------------------------------------- - music//yoga//blather///and more on a blog no one reads! for more of the same.

Forward Unto Mood

Large amounts of Radiohead, Miles Davis, The Clash, and Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works." That, and any Dubstep that happens to be lying around in vinyl form.

If I don't listen to music, I usually end up humming differing battle themes from Final Fantasy to myself. Loudly.

Nobody wants that.


Dubstep, eh?

What exactly is dubstep?

Word on Aphex. That's always in the rotation. Pandora usually plays nice and plays a lot of Aphex and Venetian Snares. WOrks for me.

I get the themes to my daughter's Nintendo DS games stuck in my head. Like Horsez and Dogz'z and Animal Crossing.

- C R T
--------------------------------------------------------------- - music//yoga//blather///and more on a blog no one reads! for more of the same.


dubstep is a fairly new electronic style coming from the UK. Its an evolution of the DNB / 2step / Dub / Reggae / Grime scenes. It's got a slow beat (1/2time), heavy sub bass (often in some form of programmed oscillation, but not always), often with reggae or grime vocals.

some links:
^youtube documentary has a bunch of tracks for download.

Ellipsis- sorry for answering a question aimed at you, I'm a huge dubstep fan, so...

No prob, you sum it up well,

No prob, you sum it up well, though the beat isn't really slow-- it seems that way because the kick is subtracted from most bars. Dubstep still clocks in around 130-145 Bpm.

And to Chang, pick up the eponymous Burial LP. It's a good place to start.

Additionally, I forgot to add Rhythm & Sound. German-made Electronic Reggae with Jamaican vocalists. It has enough soft bass to push your ears six feet into your skull. Lovely stuff.



The Decemberists
Sigur Ros

Good tunes!

YEah, Sigur Ros ends up there alot, too. Some bjork and some sinatra. I don't know the other guys though.

- C R T
"you know, once you've been to fucking detox, the prospect of lolling around talking shit about post

sim's picture

Nothing memorable

And you know, the perfect album for forgettable music is Brian Eno's "Another Green World" and "Music for Airports". But even so, to have music that I can't anticipate what's next, I turn to internet radio. works as well.


Ha! Funny you should say that!

My brother, who writes copy for a living, listens to that alot when he's writing at work. I find it slows me down somewhat, especially for action scenes. Some ambient stuff works better for me when I'm editing or coding.

Oh, and how could I forget Pandora! I edited the original post when I saw you mention that! I love Pandora!

- C R T
--------------------------------------------------------------- - music//yoga//blather///and more on a blog no one reads!

sometimes listening & sometimes just singing

While writing I either listen to music.. oops, wait.. it's more hearing rather than listening.. yes it is.. it's a sort of unconsciousness that accompany the creative process..

or.. when I haven't music around, I just sing without thinking I do it..

it usually has more to do with my personal mood rather than with the stuff I'm writing. But, what I write depends on how I feel, so I guess music plays a crucial role in my writing. More than I have thought.

thanks for your inspiring post!

-travelling without moving-

Writing with hearing...

I'd love to hear what music comes to you while writing. Show tunes? Commercials? Mantras?

- C R T
--------------------------------------------------------------- - music//yoga//blather///and more on a blog no one reads!

music pumps

I must confess I don't realise I'm singing till I stop writing for a quick gap, but I find myself singing songs I haven't listened to for years (stuff I liked when teenager, such as Lenny Kravitch, INXS, U2 or Aerosmith) or Motown famous songs or, of course, commercials.

I sometimes create my own songs.. using known tunes but changing the lyrics. Once I realise I am doing it I find it somewhat between "funny" and "ridiculous".

On the other hand, while practising sports, it comes to my mind top 10 radio hits, above all those with energetic and exciting rhythms.


-travelling without moving-


I have difficulty writing when I am listening to music with lyrics, I find it distracting. Esp with bands like The Talking Heads, as D. Byrne always has something interesting and funny to say.I prefer instrumental music that is "there" with me, but not distracting. It also depends on the tone I am trying to set with what I am writing. Occasionally, I try and switch things up. For example, if I am writing a story with a "dark" tone, I might try listening to something unexpected, like bluegrass. I have had mixed success while listening to music that normally would not match what I am writing; it works sometimes with interesting results. Often times, I may be listening to music in my car and the music will inspire an idea. I really enjoy it when that happens. My current source of music is streaming radio (Pandora, Shoutcast, LastFM). Shoutcast has some great obscure channels. I am listening to a station right now called Dub Beautiful Collective from SanF, they do a style of electronic called IDM, which I particularly enjoy. Very unobtrusive, with nice relaxing complexity. Thanks for posting!

I'm the same way with lyrics.

I love hiphop but I can't listen to it when writing. Maybe when doing HTML or something. But yeah, for the most part I listen to instrumental stuff when writing. Or the salsa, because I don't understand Spanish.

That mixup thing you do is funny. I'll have to try that. I think I'd screw it up and write dark and peppy stuff.

I've heard the Dub Beautiful stuff. I dig what they do there.

Also is awesome for electronic stuff. Some of my muci is over there.

- C R T
--------------------------------------------------------------- - music//yoga//blather///and more on a blog no one reads!