Writing Music (Suggestions Needed!)

Writing Music (Suggestions Needed!)

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may already know that I am indeed in the midst of writing a novel at the moment. One of the things I like to do when writing a novel or short story is to create a playlist to inspire me. This grouping of songs will not only get me through cafe writing sessions when truly terrible music comes over the loudspeakers, but also helps kick my writer brain into gear. It’s easy for me to associate a song with an action, so hearing the appropriate songs can put me in writer mode fairly quickly.

For this novel I need hard driving music with plenty of percussion and energy. I’ve got some appropriate music from DJs I’ve encountered in the city or music sent by friends, but I need suggestions for more stuff to acquire. House music, dance music, world music, remixes, instrumental, whatever. Suggest artists, specific albums, specific tracks. Hopefully I’ll be able to find it on Zune :)

What kind of music do you listen to while you write?

17 thoughts on “Writing Music (Suggestions Needed!)

  1. _Cosmogramma,_ that newish Flying Lotus record. Less dancey and more abstract than some of his other stuff, but for me it lands right in good writing music turf.

  2. Tom Waits is always my go-to for writing, even if I’m not writing Waits-appropriate stories. I guess he just gets the brain in the right place for me.

    The Matrix soundtracks are also a good solution when I don’t want to hear lyrics.

  3. I usually listen to Cinemagic on satellite radio. If they wind up doing an interview, I jump one channel and put on Broadway tunes. And if I find I’m getting distracted by the lyrics–particularly during heavy dialogue scenes–(“Calhoun turned to Shelby and said, ‘Tell me more, tell me more, how much dough did he spend'” Dammit!)I switch to classical.


  4. and here i saw ‘writing music’ and thought… i’ve composed a few pieces in my time so i can be of assistance! alas, you were not looking to compose music! lol.

    if you find you like rammstein, check out zeromancer, kmfdm, mdfmk, and xp8.

  5. Here’s a few of my absolute favorite soundtracks for writing:

    Ministry of Sound: Trance Nation America – the first CD in the 2 disk set is what I listen to. Extremely fast, heavy beats, and all the songs are continuous, making it an intense 75 minute soundtrack. A number of the tracks are a bit freaky, with what sounds like odd blippy animal/creature sounds in the background – I call it “Lovecraftian Rave”, and apply it accordingly.

    Way Out West: Intensify – goes back and forth between mellow and dance, and the songs aren’t continuous, but many of them are very fast and hard. I’ve used the music for a variety of stories, but I think this CD works particularly well for science fiction and anything with a trippy sense of wonder.

    Tipper: Hi Octane – Slabs of Junked Up Funk – this two-disk set is UN. FUCKING. BELIEVABLE. Heavy heavy HEAVY drum and bass, with continuous play songs increasing in speed and intensity until your head pretty much just explodes. Fantastic for hard-core fight and chase scenes or anything where your protagonist harness the power of the entire fucking universe and destroys all her enemies. Oh yeah. You probably will not find this set anywhere, and if you do, it will cost you, as it’s long out of print. But I have the original CD’s, and will be happy to burn a set for you, because I think this is the shit you are looking for.

  6. Rachid Taha
    Wire (probably the second incarnation thereof, so stuff off The Ideal Copy, A Bell Is A Cup, IBTABA, Manscape and Drill – the compilations The A List or Coatings would be excellent samplers)

  7. I really like the Chrono Trigger soundtrack for writing and other video game or anime music. I usually can’t listen to any music that has words.

  8. Oh! And /just in case/ you like crazy epic cellos & violins & such, you have to try the following bands:

    * Rasputina
    * Apocalyptica (Metallica covers on four cellos)
    * Bond

    1. Yes yes and yes. Good gods, it’s like you’re in my playlist!

      I’d also suggest Deadly Avenger: Deep Red. Fairly Bond-ish, not as good though. I like it for the lack of vocals (like Apocaliptica and most of Bond), not really brilliant on its own, but great background music.

  9. I second the Rob Dougan/Furious Angels, above.

    Also add to that pretty much anything by Juno Reactor (especially Labyrinth, and Bible of Dreams) — they, like Dougan, did a lot of the Matrix soundtrack, they make fantastic coding music (and might work for you as writing music).

    Add to that E.S. Posthumus (specifically the Unearthed album, which has a song that was incidentally the main fight sequence song in Equilibrium, an otherwise terrible movie). Similar feel to Juno Reactor — epic/orchestral/techno.

    I’m also partial to DJ Shadow – worth checking out.
    And Hybrid (the I Choose Noise album, specifically).

    1. I second the E.S. Posthumus recommendation. I didn’t realize they did the fight song for Equilibrium, I never made the connection.

      Equilibrium is a terrible movie, I love it, but in that way that geeks love terrible things.

  10. My personal favorite is Rob Dougan’s Furious Angels. It’s a two CD set. One CD has the songs with lyrics, the other has the same tracks as instrumentals:


    The instrumentals make for fantastic writing music. I’m a fan of the lyrical versions too, but they’re distracting when you’re trying to get something done.

    I’d suggest listening to the whole thing, but especially Clubbed to Death [Kurayamino Variation] and Furious Angels [Instrumental].

    1. I love that album! I’m thrilled someone else knows about it! \o/ And those are my favorite two tracks.

  11. ooh exciting question.

    House music, dance music, world music, remixes, instrumental, whatever:

    r&b/house: kelis’s new album “fleshtone”
    hipster/malawi: the very best’s album “warm heart of africa”
    dance/mostly instrumental: rusko’s album “omg”

    i also really like writing to four tet, most albums. “rounds” is the best i think.

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