Tuesday, September 07, 2010


John August has a post about music while writing that everyone should check out.  The thing I find interesting is using these playlists as a tool when you’re stuck or when you’re ping-ponging between projects.  (I find that’s more applicable to working writers.  I feel the rest of us should try hard to focus on one thing at a time)

I’ve dabbled a bit with playlists for writing, but the intent was for something to start off with in the search for inspiration.  Using it as a tool to compliment, let’s say an outline, is something new to me.  Outlines tend to detail plot points, and lately I’ve been making little notes about the impact of those beats on the character, and vice versa.  The thing that interests me about setting up a playlist (and perhaps being act/sequence/scene specific) is that it could remind me of the emotion I feel should underline the scene.  It’s details like that that sometimes get lost in all that plot and structure thinking that occupies a lot of the writing process.

The only problem I’m faced with is the fact that music with lyrics can be a distraction.  Well, unless it’s the crap that plays at the coffee shop I write at.  I tend to tune out that stuff, but with music I like… I tend to get sucked into it.  In the past, I’ve reached for instrumental music, some of which are soundtracks for films I’ve enjoyed.

585-1 Heat has got some great music, some composed for the film (Heat, Coffee Shop) and some tracks from a variety of artists ranging from Moby to Michael Brook.  (I discovered Terje Rypdal through this soundtrack and have collected a number of his albums since)

Lately, I’ve been listening to David Julyan’s score for Insomnia, and Elliot Goldenthal’s score for Public Enemies.  Micahel Nyman’s scores for Gattaca and The End of the Affair are old favourites, too.

insomniaFor music that hasn’t necessarily been written for film, there’s always guys like Moby, Synaesthesia, Future Sound of London, Dead Voices on Air, and the list goes on…

I’m thinking my new playlist will need some of Nine Inch Nails “Ghosts,” selections from the soundtracks I mentioned above, and a good serving of Mogwai.

I love the idea that a playlist can be used as a tool and look forward to giving it a try.