Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Music for the Muse

Why are you drawn to certain music? Is it memories, beat, environment, or the words? Music for the Muse is different for each writer. If I'm writing a difficult scene any noise is a distraction but being a singer and guitarist I'm blissful when listening to my favorites. And the words provide wonderful inspiration for story development, brainstorming character motivations, and atmosphere for creating settings and plotlines before or in between writing sessions. For celebration - when you hit a goal or got THE CALL. (That hasn't happened yet but I'll have a song picked out for it.)

Then there’s what I call Travelin' music for when the story is flowing and you're at full speed.

Think Lawrence of Arabia (or Shania Twain) riding the vast expanse of the desert – the desert being your story and that sleek black thoroughbred is your keyboard.

Genre matters. I write Romantic suspense and Paranormal. The music I'm drawn to for each is different and you’ll notice there’s a lot of Celtic/ethereal/new age in my choices and mostly it’s acoustic.

My favorite all time for inspiration for a love story, emotional scenes, angst, tenderness is this video - the emotional performance by Eva Cassidy put to rhumba in the Superstars of Dance. More bittersweet, Eva, who was from my home area near D.C., lost her battle with cancer in her thirties. After hearing her rendition of Fields of Gold, Sting, who wrote it, said it moved him to tears.

It does the same to me everytime.

That's what I'm looking for – music that elicits the emotions of the scenes I’m writing. So Eva Cassidy's songs and other ballads are high on my list for romance, tenderness, that moody atmosphere, and especially story ideas.

For character development~~

Bonnie Raitt Longing In Her Heart Songs like You, Storm Warning, Circle Dance, Dimming of the Day
Shake a Little for travelin’ (literally, I love going down the road with the moonroof open and this song blaring.)
(The Road Tested collection is an excellent choice.)

Richard Marx Hazard, Now and Forever, The Way She Loves Me

Bryan Adams - the angst of Please Forgive Me, and for describing your hero’s love for the heroine - Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman. Remember the word, "And when you can see your unborn children in her eyes..." OMG, the sheer romance of that song.

Adams’ The Best of Me a greatest hits collection.

And the same goes for Bon Jovi's Bed of Roses - "I wanna be just as close as the Holy Ghost is, and lay you down....on a Bed of Roses." sigh.

Travelin’ and Mood music~~
Enya Caribbean Blue From Shepherd Moon CD and
Ebudae from the same CD
Paint the Sky with Stars
Memory of Trees great for emotional scenes.

The Twilight Soundtrack is good for background and atmosphere.
Five for Fighting Live
especially Superman and 100 Years.

Quest of the Dream Warriors

The Festival from the Celtic Book of Days

John Cougar Mellancamp - for travelin', celebrating or inspiration
Pink Houses
Wild Night
and everything else (grin).

Sexy Scenes and character ideas
Layla by Eric Clapton, the acoustic version from Unplugged
and others like Lonely Stranger from that same compilation.

Jesse Cook is a treasure trove for me. A talented acoustical guitarist, his music is great for travelin and oh, my, for those sensual scenes, no one is better. Listen to Breathin Below Surface from the Ultimate Jesse Cook Collection.

There are no words and yes, there are no words for what this song does to me. I loaded it five times on one playlist. It's the beat and I don't know what else. But your 'on' switch will be different I'm sure.

For angst~
No One is to Blame from Howard Jones
and from Emmy Lou Boulder to Birmingham

Loreena McKennitt Book of Secrets
Mummer's Dance for travelin'

Loreena's music for dark atmosphere inspiration, sensual scenes or writing in the flow. I can't see writing contemporary to Loreena.

Also for travelin’:
Signe from Clapton’s Unplugged
(Live albums are more difficult - you have to pull music for playlists to avoid all the cheering and clapping, unless you need noise.)

and Last of the Mohicans - especially the Promontory and the Main Theme

My favorites for celebration:
Black Horse in the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
John Mellancamp - You're Life is Now

Shania – If You’re Not In it For Love, I’m Outta Here Heroine puts her foot down!

Again the performance and free spiritness of this video makes my muse dance.

Speaking of playlists, I just reorganized my Itunes with playlists accordingly - Character Devel, Love, Emotion, Lovelost, Kickass, Travelin, and celebration. I labeled one Fiction Fodder. I get on the treadmill to that one and think about character and plot development.

Other notable mentions for me –
Shawn Colvin
David Cook er, David Cook
Smooth by Santana travelin'
Kris Allen, the new idol

Country music doesn’t do it for me but here’s a hilarious song on YouTube with a fantastic beat – the clever lyrics can give you great ideas for plot twists. This from Lonestar on No News. Words again.

‘She missed her bus, missed her plane, surely this can explained. Lost her car at the mall, got locked in a bathroom stall. Playing guitar with the band, on the road with Pearl Jam. FBI, CIA, If they seen her they ain’t sayin’ Buried with the Grateful Dead… offered as a sacrifice.’ Lots of wonderful excuses there!

Bottom line - choose your music zen - the music that gives your muse BLISS! Whether it's the words or the music. Or just tune out the distractions of tv, kids, dog with a set of headphones and the volume on low.

Do you have some favorite muse music? Share.

Thanks to Ronna
for suggesting this blog. It's been so inspiring during Nanowrimo. All of the participating writers (links below) have different takes on the music we use for different parts of the writing process, for prep, for inspiration and for celebration.

Check out the other Music for the Muse bloggers. I can't wait to find out what they're tuning into:

Stephenie Kuehnert
Jeri Smith Ready
Bryan Bliss
R R Smythe
Tara Kelly

Jennifer Linforth


Michael Malone said...

fascinating post, Marley. I hadn't ever thought of using music to help evoke a mood. I can't write with music on in the background as I find the song-writer's words crowd out my own. Perhaps I should have a wee listen before I start writing?

Anonymous said...

I found it especially inspirational for character development and to develop a mood, like before writing emotional scenes.

JC Coy said...

I can't listen to anything with lyrics, but I do listen to classical and violin (my instrument of choice). I love listening to Joshua Bell perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons...fantastic music for quick paced writing.

Debora Dennis said...

I love to listen to different types of music and while it does inspire different scenes - I find it hard to write with music in the background. Weird? Don't know. I just need to have quiet or I find the dialogue sounds suspiciously like the lyrics...haha

Great post. :)

Anonymous said...

I love Four Seasons, J.C. and like you and Debora, I can't listen to anything with words while I'm writing, unless there's more noise outside the headphones, lol. Songs with words I leave for mood and ideas.
Thanks for stopping by.

Winnie Griggs said...

Great Post. I personally don't use music to set the mood when I write, but I do know how powerful music can be to trigger memories and moods

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by, Winnie. I loved your post about the western music.

Thea said...

great post, Marley. I, too, use music for inspiration. I have a Dixie Chicks album that I love. And since I'm writing medieval humorous historicals, I have some gregorian chants and some nuns singing (don't rmeember name) that I picked up at the cloisters

Anonymous said...

I love Fly, Cowboy Take me Away is my favorite, Thea. I'd love to know the name of your chant cds. I have several by the Sisters in Song, Magna Carta's Sanctuary. There's so much good music for inspiration. Thanks for tuning in...

Kelly said...

Awesome post!
I love, live for music, but I cannot write while listening because I will sing to the lyrics!
(I love the acoustic Layla you mentioned by the way, and now I have to listen to Howard Jones. Haven't heard that song in ages!)
I do sometimes look to music for inspiration in my poetry though.

Anonymous said...

I listen almost exclusively to instrumental when I'm actually writing forward, if then. Mostly I use before and between for inspiration. I hadn't listened to Richard Marx in a while either. One of his songs gave me an idea for one of my heroes in a future book.

I can see where it would be great for poetry writing. ;D