A not-very-serious post – what’s the soundtrack for your novel?

In my post below on starting a new novel, I briefly discussed using soundtracks while writing, and Sally, in one of her comments, asked what the soundtrack was for Life Form 3. As so many of you have said you use soundtracks, I thought it might be fun for us to share them!

Here goes. Soundtrack for Life Form 3

Fireflies by Owl City

Music has the Right to Children by Boards of Canada (whole album)

Martes by Murcof (whole album)

Passion by Peter Gabriel (album)

The Sensual World by Kate Bush (just that song)

The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams

Okay, guys – your turn on the decks.

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  1. #1 by Randy Murray on April 4, 2011 - 3:37 pm

    Actually, the soundtrack for me is very important. As I write, the music that the characters listen to, the songs playing in the places they go, and the things I am listening to are critical.

    I assemble a soundtrack playlist as I’m writing. It helps me to develop a feeling of place and time. And when I go back to reread and edit, it’s a reminder of what I was thinking and feeling at the time I originally set the words down.

    I may be all the training we’ve gotten from watching movies for all these years, but the novel’s soundtrack, even if the readers don’t explicitly know what it is, is very important to me the writer.

    • #2 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 7:00 pm

      That’s a great description, Randy. One of the hardest things we do is to preserve the right moment in amber. Music that tickles just the right spot can make that much easier.

  2. #3 by Bill Greeves on April 4, 2011 - 3:41 pm

    Poets of the Fall…especially the albums Twilight Theater and Carnival of Rust. Deep and dark musical scores (nearly theatrical) with vivid imagery in the lyrics. Made for a some very haunting backdrop. For the fast paced sequences, I also found myself enjoying some random Nightwish and Indica.

    • #4 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 3:48 pm

      Carnival of Rust… don’t you just adore track (and album) titles?!

      I used Fatboy Slim for the chase sequences in one of my ghosted novels. They were great fun.

      • #5 by Bill Greeves on April 4, 2011 - 4:07 pm

        Come feed the rain
        ’cause I’m thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust
        Yeah, feed the rain
        ’cause without your love my life ain’t nothing but this carnival of rust.

        That’s good stuff! I can’t write without tunes in the background! Thanks for turning me on to some new stuff to check out!

  3. #7 by Stuart on April 4, 2011 - 4:58 pm

    I absolutely *cannot* write with music playing, or the TV on, but I can see the value of using music to set the mood before I start writing. I’ve never tried it though so I might give it a go and see what happens.

    I admire your feats of concentration for writing with any sort of background noise!

    • #8 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 5:28 pm

      Stuart, I used to think I needed silence but now I see it more as ‘assisted concentration’! However, I can’t edit with music on, although I might play a track to capture a precise mood before I start hacking into the text.

  4. #9 by Bill MacCormick on April 4, 2011 - 5:04 pm

    I plan to do this in reverse. I was a rock musician for a few years (many years ago) and plan to write some music to accompany my book. Apart from perhaps helping me to consider the development and personailities of the characters and the dynamics of events in a different way I thought it might be fun to have a music CD that accompanies the story. A cunning marketing ploy. Buy a rubbish book, get a rubbish CD to go with it. 🙂

    • #10 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 5:32 pm

      Bill, how very, very cool! I’ve heard of a number of writers dabbling with composition to accompany a novel – myself included… but it’s only the airiest plan at the moment. As you say, though, it could go badly wrong.

  5. #11 by Lara Sterling on April 4, 2011 - 5:10 pm

    Hi, Roz,

    I love this idea. I took an acting class once that asked us to decide on what the character’s favorite album is — or what music is she listening to right now? In essence, what is her soundtrack…


    • #12 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 5:34 pm

      Lara – that’s part of what I look for when compiling the book’s soundtrack: the song that speaks for the character at that point in the story. I love hearing about acting exercises. I used to go to an improv class and I wish I had time to do it more.

  6. #13 by Hugh on April 4, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    I don’t match tracks to characters (though I’ll try some of your choices Roz). I just try to create the right mood: mostly film or film-ish music, Zimmer and Vangelis particularly. Or classical: Sibelius for the climaxes, Prokofiev for drama, Gorecki for (very) downbeat sections and the Russians for romance (naturally). All at just above comprehension volume. A friend has just sent me his CD of Variations for Guitars and Strings, very film-ish. I’m playing that a lot. I try to avoid words, to reduce distraction, although a quick burst of Billie the Vision and the Dancers (“Summercat”) or Eliza Doolittle (“Pack up Your Troubles…”) at the end of a session is a great pick-me-up. On the subject of composition, the wife of a friend has just released an album of songs to accompany his new novel.

    • #14 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 6:39 pm

      Vangelis is one of my favourites too. And how could I have forgotten the Russians?

  7. #15 by Kevin McGill on April 4, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    I have about three as of late. Sherlock Holmes. Tron. Lord of the Rings.

    • #16 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 6:40 pm

      Ho ho, Kevin – why am I not surprised?! Film soundtracks are brilliant for writing. I wonder if writers are the biggest consumers of them?

  8. #17 by Hugh on April 4, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    And Einaudi. Practically anything by him.

    • #18 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 6:40 pm

      Never heard of him. Must check him out.

      • #19 by Hugh on April 4, 2011 - 6:55 pm

        Ludovico Einaudi. Piano music, beloved of British TV and film directors.

  9. #21 by Sally on April 4, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Very intriguing playlist Roz! The soundtrack certainly gives some clues to the atmosphere of your story.

    Mine’s a mixed bag – and these are just a few of the tracks:

    Linkin Park – Breaking the Habit
    Guns n’ Roses – November Rain
    Minnie Ripperton – Les Fleur
    Anthem (Japanese metal band) – The Show Must Go On
    Anthem – Running Blood
    Filter – Welcome to the Fold
    KMFDM – Ultra
    The Rasmus – In the Shadows
    Megadeth – Symphony of Destruction (and most tracks on Capitol Punishment)
    Michael Jackson – Stranger in Moscow
    Michael & Janet Jackson – Scream

    I don’t understand a word of Japanese by the way … but the music matches the personality of one of my characters. In fact for many of these tracks it’s more about the music than the words.

    • #22 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 7:51 pm

      I love your reason for choosing the Japanese band. Music gets the gut in that way, doesn’t it? Jacksons and Megadeth? I’m not that familiar with your other choices but am rather intrigued to hunt them out and consider them together.

      • #23 by Sally on April 4, 2011 - 8:27 pm

        I discovered the Japanese band through an anime I watched years ago. To be fair, some of their lyrics are in English too.

        Apart from the Jacksons and Minnie Riperton, most of the tracks there are different shades of rock. No one who knows me would believe I listen to them!

        • #24 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 10:59 pm

          My music tastes for writing would probably surprise my friends too. We are different creatures when the needs of the keyboard call.

          • #25 by Sally on April 5, 2011 - 1:42 pm

            Very true!

  10. #26 by Rachael W on April 4, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” gets me in the writing mood every time. I’ve worked with other writers who’ve said that they use certain music to evoke certain emotions when they’re writing scenes that correspond to those emotions. I’ve also worked with writers who listen to music that they think their protagonist would like. I’ve yet to try either of those techniques, but they sound fantastic!

    P.S. I like your site; I’m sure I’ll be back!

    • #27 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 11:04 pm

      Hi Rachel – thanks, glad you like it here! Funny you should mention Imogen Heap. I was listening to a programme about how she’s crowdsourced a track on her latest album, asking fans to send sound samples, suggestions for lyrics and snatches of themselves playing instruments. She put them together to make a ‘found song’.

  11. #28 by Laura Robinett on April 4, 2011 - 11:05 pm

    I have to have a soundtrack as well. What I end up doing is picking a genre of music and create a playlist with a lot of songs on it. I started with over 9 hours, I listen to it while I write and if a certain song doesn’t strike me for that book then I take it off. I’m down to 8.4 hours now. I started making a YouTube playlist for my current book (Which I just got a contract for ^.^) there are so many songs to put on it I’m just adding a few at a time.

    • #29 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 11:34 pm

      Laura – congratulations on your contract. The playlist obviously did the trick!

  12. #30 by rozmorris on April 4, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    Eek – forgot to add this very important track for Life Form 3 – Electromantic La Baletta No 2 by Gabor Presser. Feisty and fertile. Plus you can smell the corduroy.

  13. #31 by Terry Odell on April 5, 2011 - 12:57 pm

    I blogged about my writing playlist some time ago. It works well for my romantic suspense novels, but when I was working on a proposal for a different series, I realized that if the idea sold, I’d need a new one. Rather than recreate my list in this comment, here’s the link to the original post.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

    • #32 by rozmorris on April 5, 2011 - 1:19 pm

      Lovely, Terry (in fact I even left a comment there when you first posted). What I really like about that post is that you also explained a little of what each track meant to you in the story.

  14. #33 by A.M. Kuska on April 5, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    Stand in the Rain by Superchic
    Handlebars by Flobot
    Different kind of Pain by Cold
    Cold by Alex Young

    I think that’s about it.

    • #34 by rozmorris on April 5, 2011 - 7:20 pm

      Spare and intriguing! Heading over to your blog…

  15. #35 by Emily on April 5, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    I can’t wait to read your book!!!

    • #36 by rozmorris on April 5, 2011 - 7:21 pm

      Thanks, Emily! In fact listening to that music makes me want to write it all over again.

  16. #37 by Zelah on April 5, 2011 - 4:30 pm

    I’m another one who prefers to write in silence (I’ve even been sticking ear plugs in recently!) I find that when I write, whether it’s novel or script, I am watching a film of it in my head and listening to the characters speaking. I type what I see/hear and thus it’s important that I’m able to concentrate on what I see.

    I find music very good for inspiration but not so good for while I’m actually writing, as it steers you down a particular path because it has its own ‘plot’ inherent in either the lyrics or the music.

    I’ll occasionally stick my iPod on shuffle and write down the images/ideas that come to me for scenes while I’m listening to songs. It’s helped give me a few good scenes but I don’t use it when I’m working on the actual story.

    That said, I often think of the artists I’d want on the soundtrack. I like writing song lyrics too so, in my ideal fairy-story success world, I’d be writing a large chunk of the sound-track as well!

    I’d definitely want Rajaton on the soundtrack. This is my favourite song of theirs, sung live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYaUpKX34ko&playnext=1&list=PLE64DBFECDC15ADC7

    I’d also like Tim Minchin (for the lighter plots I’m working on) and probably Marc Almond, Divine Comedy & Duke Special (for the more serious ones!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4yavx08r0g

    • #38 by rozmorris on April 5, 2011 - 7:31 pm

      Hi Zelah! Wow, I’d never heard of Rajaton, I really like that track! Haven’t listened to any Marc Almond for ages but he’s good for a real torch moment. Love Divine Comedy’s drama too.

  17. #39 by Mark Feggeler on April 6, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    I never thought of a soundtrack for my WIP. Typically, I enjoy silence while I write, since I’m easily distracted by the desire to sing along to anything that might be playing in the background. When I do have music playing, it always comes back to one album — “Metamorpheus” by Steve Hackett. Lovely orchestration and classical guitar, with all the twists, turns and tempos to help build the mood of any scene.

    • #40 by dirtywhitecandy on April 6, 2011 - 4:20 pm

      I like Steve Hackett too – Spectral Mornings and Please Don’t Touch. Real submerging music.

      • #41 by Mark Feggeler on April 6, 2011 - 5:13 pm

        You would probably love his latest, then – “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth.” A return to his progressive roots and some lovely musicianship.

        • #42 by rozmorris on April 6, 2011 - 5:27 pm

          Just the title is tantalising enough. I’ll check that out.

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