What is the Soundtrack for Your Writing

Maybe it’s because I’m a musician as well as an author, but I tend to hear music when I write my stories.

I don’t literally listen to music when I write. That would be too distracting. I would focus too much on the melody, the arrangement, the chord progression, etc. and lose focus on my writing. I prefer watching T.V. shows and movies while I write and don’t find that distracting at all…more on that in a future post.

When I set out to write the first book in my Frank Rozzani series, I knew music would be a part of the narrative. As it turns out, I made my main characters, Frank Rozzani and Clifford “Jonesy” Jones musicians.

With them living in Jacksonville, Florida, the home of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and .38 special, I thought about putting them in a southern rock tribute band or something campy like that.

I landed on the music that I am most comfortable with and enjoy listening to, traditional jazz. I’m talking about the kind of music my dad played back in the 1940s and 50s.

In fact, it all started with one of the first jazz standards I learned to play on the piano, My Funny Valentine. It’s  is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms. The song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists.

This version of the song by Chet Baker is one of the best:

The song is mentioned as a favorite of one of the characters in Frankly Speaking, the first book in the series. Frank’s jazz trio plays it and it’s the favorite song of one of his friends.

The whole detective genre has a strong association with this style of music for me. I often felt that I was born in the wrong decade musically. The standards of the 1930s and 1940s resonates with me by bringing back memories of my dad and his musical legacy.

Since the first book, I secretly have a song or two that I associate with each book. I don’t write the story around the songs, I just hear them in my head and think of the lyrics as I write.

This may be an unusual practice that I have, but I’ve never shied away from being outside of the box.

What about you? Do any of you hear music or write to particular styles of music? Do you vary the music based on the type of story you’re writing?

Let me know. I’d love to hear about it.


11 thoughts on “What is the Soundtrack for Your Writing

  1. I have a whole blog post about finding inspiration in music ❤ I think there's lots to be said. For me, I hear stories in lyrics whenever I listen to a song and am particularly overwhelmed if a song seems to relate well to my story or a particular character. I listen to music when I need inspiration, but like you I can't listen while I actually write. That'd distract me too much!
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so cool. I have a friend (we went to high school together) who worked for the Glenn Miller Orchestra/Glenn Miller Productions and now has his own band (he lives in Orlando, FL). I have another friend I met in Arkansas who was from Western PA (where I’m originally from). They’ve since moved back, but they compose and record their own music. Now I’m “meeting” (you, via the Internet) another musician. I love how our world has shrunk due to technology.

    I can write in pretty much any environment—total silence, family noise, coffee shops, ambient noise tracks, and music. I have several playlists that I select based on the mood my manuscript needs to portray. Lately, I’ve preferred Christmas music. Right now, I have the news on. If something isn’t working or is distracting, I’ll just switch to a different method.

    But to each his or her own, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a lot of musicians out there that went on to do other things. My best friend from high school works for a cruise line and started as a musician, then a music director, and now he hires all of the talent and purchases the instruments for the ships. His son is a music director on one of the ships. We had the chance to sail with them and I got to play with the orchestra. It was fun and much of it made it into my last book, Frank Immersed.

      Thanks for commenting on this. It was a fun post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, Don. What a memory. And that you got to immortalize it in your fiction is all the sweeter.

        I played clarinet for the most part in school. (Bass clarinet and the baritone for brief stints, but always back to the clarinet.) I bought one a few years back, but my embouchure is so weak now, I can’t get many notes out. I’d get it back if I practiced, but I don’t make the time for it. I always wanted to play an instrument that left my mouth free, like guitar or piano. I even started teaching myself piano several years ago. But we moved, and the piano doesn’t fit in my house (it’s in our garage, waiting to be refinished and restored).

        I love music. I just don’t get to play the way I want or the way I used to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was away from it for a while, but I’m back playing piano at church and I’m finding myself getting more involved with arranging and rehearsing. It’s hare do just put your toe in.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great share. Music is a huge part of writing for me. I adore film scores, even ones where I haven’t seen the movie. In fact, those are almost my favorite, because then I can create my own imagery to the music. I almost always listen to film scores when I write, as they fill me with a lot of emotion. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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