Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Music

I feel weird writing a story about music. I can never truly do it justice, since it creates an amazing atmosphere for me. When I’m writing, I always have some kind of music playing in the background. And it usually dedicates the mood of the piece that I’m working on.

My husband recently said in an interview on Adorning Schemes that music doesn’t really influence his music. My writing isn’t necessarily affected by other authors either, but I’d like to think that my writing is improved the more I read. I learn more words, I learn better ways to phrase things, and I learn good vs. bad pacing, which I can then emulate in my own style. Regardless of that, my writing is probably more affected by the music in my ears than by other writing. It’s amusing to me that my husband’s musical influences tend to be things he reads and sees, and my influence is the music that I write to.

Some frequent bands on my playlists: M83, Visitor Seven, IAMX, Mumford & Sons, Filter, Blue October, Rise Against, Senses Fail.

A lot of people tell me that they can’t write when they are listening to songs with lyrics – but I find myself in a complete, alternate reality. The story has a backdrop of sound, and my writing flows along to the words.

Music has always been visual to me. The lyrics wrap around my brain and seize my neurons, forcing me to think about distant, non-existent places. This works for music without lyrics too. But it doesn’t work for music with very straightforward lyrics.

Some people might hate me for saying this, but the particular song that comes to mind is “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye. The line, “When I think of all the times you screwed me over/But had me believing it was always something that I’d done.” Where does that put me? Nowhere. I’ve already been there. If I want to listen to a song that could literally be about my life… well, I wouldn’t. I want to be transported somewhere new, not forced back into old thoughts.

I’m not sure if that makes sense or not, but I find myself drawn to lyrics that are very visual. I’m going to use Senses Fail’s "Yellow Angels" as an example: “I see the sky and then the ground / Kaleidoscope of light and sound / Catching flashes of my life / Just then the house lights all went out.” All of those lyrics have some visual element to them, and you can put your own meaning behind the lyrics. But for me, it brings a thousand different images and ideas into my head.  I'm flooded with "what ifs" and visual cues that I could based an entire novel just off of those lyrics.

Music has always been a large part of me and how I interpret my own internal thoughts. That’s why I'm drawn to most of music that I still listen to. I probably will continue to love weird floaty music (M83, Visitor Seven, Unkle, Sneaker Pimps, IAMX), my more mainstream somewhat indie stuff (Iron & Wine, Imogen Heap, Blue October) but also keep my punky/harder musical tastes (Rise Against, Against Me!, Bouncing Souls, Senses Fail, Thursday). They are complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but that’s the way I like it. Whatever my writing calls for, I can tune into one of my Pandora stations and find the mood that I’m looking for.


  1. I love music when I'm writing. I sing along and still manage to keep the voice of my characters.

  2. I always listen to music when I'm writing. It helps unlock things in my cluttered brain.