Writing to music

I’ve mentioned before that I always write to music, but I always assumed my choice of music was a random thing based on whatever I was feeling at the time. Today however, I realised that my subconscious always prods me for a specific kind of music, depending on what I am writing.

When I was madly typing Innerscape, my Nanowrimo 2012 project,  my music of choice was Elysium, by Jo Blankenburg. Elysium is epic and passionate but contains undertones of the romantic [at least to me]. However for Vokhtah, the music had to be by Two Steps From Hell. Now that I’ve started working on book 2 of Vokhtah, I automatically went back to Invincible and Archangel, the two public albums released by Two Steps From Hell.

Both Invincible and Archangel feature big, epic, passionate music but most of the tracks are very martial. Those tracks evoke the Vokh – powerful, violent, calculating, deadly. The softer tracks conjure the iVokh, who can be just as calculating and deadly as the Vokh, but there is a softer side to their nature as well. This softness is considered to be a weakness, and so it is hidden, controlled, sublimated, but  it is there. Showing it is the problem.

In writing the iVokh, I had to hint at this hidden softness without turning them into human analogs. The solution was to write their emotions in the negative,  a bit like the negative image of a photograph. For those young things who only know about digital photography, old fashioned film uses a negative which reverses the colours so black becomes white and so on. If you look at a negative, even familiar faces look very different. And that was what I tried to do with the iVokh, juxtaposing the callous things they could do against the callous things they chose not do.

Writing inside out is rather hard to do, and it was not until I discovered Two Steps From Hell that I could do it without constantly second guessing myself. The music allows me to feel the controlled passions my characters are not allowed to express, while, by some strange alchemy, the words that end up on the page evoke their conflicting duality. At least I think they do. 🙂

So, having put that small insight into words, I will now make another cup of coffee and sink back into the music of Two Steps From Hell – my version of heaven.

cheers

Meeks

 

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

14 responses to “Writing to music

  • lorddavidprosser

    I’d never be able to write with the distraction of music, much as I love it. I find myself talking out loud when I write, often testing responses or reading a few lines aloud to make sure there’s some kind of rhythm there. I know it helps some people focus .

    Like

    • acflory

      I don’t listen to music when I’m editing or proofreading but I find that music switches off my internal editor when I’m trying to imagine a place or a character. That internal editor is my biggest bug-bear. In writing terms it’s like stopping to apply makeup before running from a burning house! Counter productive, for me at least. 😉

      Like

  • candy korman

    Fascinating! Someone should do a study… but then, writers aren’t all that cooperative. LOL

    Like

    • acflory

      Another blogger – Roz Morris – is posting interviews with writers based on music as the ‘soundtrack’ to their novels. Apparently some writers have different songs for different themes or sometimes for different characters.

      I could never be that organized but I was fascinated by the fact that we all used music in some way.

      Do you use music to get into your Monsters?

      Like

  • Honie Briggs

    I wondered where I got Two Steps From Hell. Now I remember your comment on a post at Sweet Mother about writing to music. I downloaded it right after I read your comment. Oh, and it so goes with Vokhtah. I can just picture you writing furiously to that soundtrack. Protectors of the Earth is my favorite, it just builds and builds. I love writing to music, but it must have no lyrics or lyrics that I can’t understand or it will get stuck in my head and then my writing goes down a rabbit hole…it happens.

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    • acflory

      Yes! I am so chuffed you like Two Steps From Hell as well!!!!!!

      And I agree 100% – no lyrics for me either. I think I need the music to slide me past the cerebral and into that dreamy place where I can ‘see’ the story. It’s weird how the words still flow though. You’d think writing would be about as cerebral as you can get.

      Archangel used to be my favourite track but now I seem to adore them all. Protectors of the Earth /is/ fantastic isn’t it?

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      • Honie Briggs

        I know what you mean about the “dreamy place.” Music somehow makes the writing flow, or better, properly align itself. Chuffed? translate please. I mean, I can tell that it must be a good thing, but anytime I ever heard chuffed it went something like, “what’s got you chuffed?” HA!

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        • acflory

          I think we, and the Brits, use chuffed to mean being really pleased/proud about something. 🙂 And I like that phrase ‘properly align itself’. Sometimes I feel as if I’m struggling with a piece from a jigsaw puzzle. I know it has to go in there somewhere but I just can’t seem to make it fit!

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  • metan

    I find that music is too distracting when I am trying to concentrate. I want to listen to it but end up finding my brain wandering. I have to sit where I can see outside though, otherwise I get bored no matter how interested I am in what I am doing!

    Enjoy your cuppa 😀

    Like

    • acflory

      That’s very interesting Metan! I wonder if that’s because you are researching and writing about ‘real’ things? As a historian you probably don’t want to drift off into flights of fancy. 🙂

      I can’t write technical stuff or research anything with music playing. For me, the music is just for fiction. I’d love to know what the scientific explanation is, if there is one.

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      • metan

        That is probably it, needing to keep the aural distractions to a minimum. I do my fastest work when everyone is in bed or at work/school and the house is quiet. I often have 774 on in the background during the day, but that is rarely music and the serious voices don’t distract me from the job.

        I must have music playing, and loudly, when I am doing housework. Preferably something we can all sing (or shout) along with otherwise it just doesn’t get done!

        Like

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