Monday, September 7, 2015

Get Inspired - Music

Some people need absolute silence to focus on their writing, for them music is a distraction, to me it’s fuel. I cannot write without listening to music. It doesn’t feel right, it throws me out of whatever I’m working on and I can’t get into that zone where I’m fully focused on writing without music.

But I can’t just listen to any old thing, nope I have a playlist of songs across a few genres that get me pumped, put me in the write head-space (heh), trigger the emotions I wish to evoke, and make the writing sessions feel more fun.

Feel free to laugh at my tastes.

I love to write cinematically and as I’m putting words on the page I imagine the music that’s playing as the score to whatever scene I’m writing at the time. For this I love listening to soundtracks. From the melodrama in scores like Hans Zimmer’s Inception or the whimsy of Alan Silvestri’s Back to the Future the soundtracks I have in my playlist cover a broad spectrum of emotion and allow me to inject those feelings into my writing.

As much as I enjoy popular movie scores I have a growing love for so called “trailer music.” Trailer music essentially is a genre of pieces composed to be used by movie studios in their film trailers and promotional videos. Soundtracks produced by companies like Audio Machine and EpicScore make for such lush soundscapes without a story already attached to them. I can listen to the Thor Original Score by Patrick Doyle from start to finish and get nearly the same feeling as if I watched the movie, the story is there in the music and has a beginning, middle, and end. The beauty in trailer music is that it’s all about the emotion and how the music stimulates your imagination. Instead of associating a piece with a character you’re associating it with what it makes you feel and what it makes you imagine, and from that tangent a story idea can be born. I feel that a lot of young writers and film makers have come to see the benefit in trailer music as inspiration lately. If you go on Youtube and look in the comment sections for these songs you can see people writing short pieces of fiction based on how the music fires up their creativity. It’s really cool, it’s somewhat like the new-age version of gazing at the sky and seeing shapes in clouds.

I'm listening to AudioMachine - Existence as I write this.
As you can already kind of guess I have a fondness for classical instruments and arrangements but I also enjoy heavy music, and I’m a huge nerd so it only makes sense that power metal takes up an enormous portion of my playlist and my iPod in general. It has the best elements of the classical symphonic music I love and all the campiness, flair and energy of metal which I also love. It’s the perfect marriage. It isn’t hard to imagine how listening to songs about wizards and knights and dragons while writing about wizards, knights and dragons gives me a +3 to creativity, but I’ll let you in on a little secret dear reader. The best thing about power metal, aside from the instrumental virtuosity, is the lyrics. Each song in a story unto itself – Hell, Rhapsody of Fire’s discography can be read as one epic saga and each album is a new chapter – however most of my inspiration actually comes from misinterpreting lyrics of my favorite songs. A lot of my favorite power metal vocalists sing in English as a second language and their thick accents make it easy to mishear the lyrics. Some bands like Galneryus sing in a very broken kind of English and that makes it even better. I’ll listen to a song and hear a cool line and sometimes it will be the spark I need for a story then I’ll come to find out the line I heard was actually something else entirely when I read the lyrics, which is fine. Often times I like my version better anyway.

Aside from those, metalcore and j-rock are the other big pillars of my inspiration music library. Metalcore with its aggressive, high energy blast beats, visceral screams and emotionally charged choruses the genre is full of amazing songs that always seem to come on in my shuffle while I’m writing a crucial fight scene or a really tense situation. And while I don’t understand the lyrics in Japanese rock songs the tone and the message is there. I find most of my j-rock songs in the playlist have a pretty uplifting character without sounding cheesy. They also always come on at the right time to help me provide levity to a scene or when I’m writing about a budding romance. Some of my all-time favorite love songs are in Japanese.

I do have an assortment of other genres and odds and end in my playlist, (80’s music because I wish I was an 80’s kid, drum and bass because it gives me laser focus) but metalcore, j-rock, power metal, and soundtrack music are the biggest genres in terms of helping me get in the zone with my writing and keep me there until the last song fades out.

Most Played Soundtrack Albums.

Most Played Trailer Music Albums

Most Played Metalcore Albums

Most Played J-rock Albums

I’m curious to know if any of these genres have the same effect on you when you’re writing or reading. Do you listen to music while you write, and if you do genre do you draw the most inspiration from?

See you Tomorrow as the Get Writing Challenge continues with Get Inspired - Images!

Links to all entries in the Get Writing Challenge:
Get Inspired – Music (Current Page)
Get Inspired – Images (Tomorrow)

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