Music to write to


The TV is on, people are moving about in the house and the fan-heater keeps popping on to blast me with hot air. I log in to WordPress, ‘add new post’ and then think about getting my headphones so I can listen to some music, block out the sounds of the ‘real’ world around me so I can focus…

Procrastination, but also I realise I’m unintentionally demonstrating what I was just about to blog about. Writing accompaniment.

Some people can only work in silence, without any distractions, I’ve never been one of those people. I find silence distracting…

While I wrote the first half of this post I was listening to the rattle of raindrops against the window (after I’d turned off the TV). Now, a few days later, I’m writing it listening to La Roux, As if By Magic, a song recommended to me by Last FM who’s recommendations I’ve been flicking through for the past few minutes (I’m not sure they quite get me yet!). More procrastination?

I’m not so sure. Many years ago I read that the beat of music and heart rate are intertwined. A faster beat raises heart rate and increases excitement, whilst a slower one relaxes you. Turns out I didn’t dream this, Research conducted in 2006 by Heart found that:

“Music, especially in trained subjects, may first concentrate attention during faster rhythms, then induce relaxation during pauses or slower rhythms.”

I find that listening to music with a nice fast beat, often some lame pop, inspires me to write. However,  I’m usually too busy singing along to actually concentrate enough to write anything down! There’s no real focus, I just want action, and writing isn’t like that, so my enthusiasm is normally short-lived. It’s good music to help inspire me but I rarely get any good writing done when the music has a strong, fast, beat.

When it actually comes to getting down to some work I prefer something more mellow. I’ve found that Ambient, Tribal or World music works well. The tracks are long, the beat fast enough that I’m not going to drift off, but the segments are slow to change which is relaxing and consistent.

Absolutely the best music to write to for me is Kogi Bridge by Lee Spencer (From the wonderful Whirl-y Waves album). This song has been my go-to when I really want to focus.

The music transports me away to a world I invented whilst watching the film “Where the river runs black“. But the feelings and emotions, memories and thoughts that music invokes in us is a whole other blog entry.

I wonder what my taste in accompanying music has to say about my writing style? Does it mean that I need to be relaxed to write, that the music I choose allows my brain to float and my fingers to write?

As a child, playing the piano always went better when I let my fingers move without thinking too much. Perhaps the same thing is at work here. Maybe this music work so well for me because it helps me to let go of the tensions that block my writing normally.

So, what sound inspires you and what accompanies you when you write?


3 responses »

  1. I actually wrote a blog post about this just a few days ago. Personally, I can’t write whilst listening to anything with someone singing because it distracts me from the words going onto the page, so it tends to be classical. The composer or specific symphony varies according to what’s being written, right down to a particular chapter or scene. The trick, for me, is to pick the right soundtrack for the work, not the right soundtrack for me personally. But it’s different for everyone, and I’m glad for you that you seem to have hit on what works.

    • Hi Candlelightwriter, welcome and thanks for your comment!

      I think you’re absolutely right about the issue with lyrics, I find them distracting too. I agree that it makes sense to choose music that meets the mood of the piece I’m writing rather than myself but I think often I end up with the same sort of music intentionally or not.

      And now I’m going to check out your post on the subject.

  2. Those are good ideas. I’ve been listening to songs which fill me with a sense of nostalgia to engage the creative senses, but once I’ve begun the lyrics become distracting. I’ll give World music a try…I think I have some tribal chants around here somewhere.

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