Writing Music

In case anyone is actually still following this blog, hello! You are a tenacious one, aren't you? You do realise this blog has been entirely inactive for almost a year, don't you? And that the last post to grace these pages was an excuse for that continuing silence? Well, your fidelity (or forgetfulness in failing to delete this blog from your reading list) will not go unrewarded. For what follows is actually a true piece of real content for this blog, the first to be authored in over a year. You should feel honoured to witness such an event.

The subject today is not, as you might mistakenly glean from the title, about the process of creating a piece (or several pieces) of music. It is instead one which is somewhat closer to my heart: music to which to listen while writing. Having had some experience with this, there are a couple of insights which I'd like to share.

Firstly, given the proven effects music can have upon one's mood and thought processes, it is almost inconceivable that what you are listening to while writing will not in some way influence the content of your text. This is sometimes deliberate - I once wrote a short piece set in a temple, with the aid of a soundtrack from Dead Can Dance. I wrote my published short story with a number of musical influences - chief among them being Fields of the Nephilim. The mood of the music helps to inform the mood of my writing.

But it isn't always easy to write while there are words being thrown at you from your speakers - it can sometimes distract the mind from what it's meant to be doing, and sometimes even snatch away a bon mot before you manage to pin it to the page. That's where ambient music steps in. With no - or rare, subtle - vocals, it is less of a distraction and can hum away quietly in the background, creating mood and atmosphere without imposing itself too aggressively. It's not music one can listen to in the more active sense of the verb, but for backgrounds there's no better.

One of the prime examples of this came with the first game in the Myst series; the amount of atmosphere, and tension, created with the music was phenomenal. The later games brought more drama and thereby more dramatic soundtracks - which are still amazing pieces of music, but for sheer ambience the original has yet to be bested. Particularly if the mood you're looking for is an uneasy, tense mystery.

Another source I can recommend - particularly because it's absolutely free - is the website for Darkwinter Records (no relation, honestly). All the works contained therein are ambient, atmospheric, dark or experimental - and often all of the above. They are also all available on a Creative Commons License, meaning that the only payment involved is the entirely voluntary - but recommended - donation through Paypal. If you're looking for some mood music, it's a pretty good place to start.

Check out the results of my music-accompanied writing efforts at my DeviantART page and my writing blog.

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