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.