Your Writing Soundtrack

Vinyl Music Melody Leisure Rest Rhythm ConceptMaybe 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.

20 thoughts on “Your Writing Soundtrack

  1. My writing soundtrack start on youtube with James Taylor, Jackson Brown and Eric Clapton along the playlist. Nice relaxed, to sing along loudly and it does not distract me from my text …

    All the best to you


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  2. Like you, I don’t listen to music when I write. But I love jazz. I think it’s a great choice for crime fiction, too. I mean, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch loves jazz, and there are a lot of other examples of how it’s woven through the genre. And there are so many different kinds of jazz, too. A great choice!

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  3. I don’t score my scenes, but I (sometimes) write to music or sounds. For music, it has to be instrumental and has to fit the type of scene I’m writing (driving beat for action scenes, slow strains for a sad scene… you get the idea). Other times, I just prefer a sound mix of a crackling fire, rain, maybe some thunder. Sometimes I like the quiet, but sometimes silence is too quiet. That’s when I play music or sounds.

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  4. I like Symphonies in the background while I write. That said, with the exception of Will Diaz, very few of my characters are into the Classics. Jewell, his wife is all country, all the time. She even plays in a country group. RJ plays guitar. Terri is a flutist. Will, on a good day, can play the radio.

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  5. I wake every day to a song playing in my head. The song of the day often surprises me. It can be any song I have ever heard. So even when I write in silence there is a soundtrack of a sort playing in my head. Combinations of words will trigger the words of a song and some word riff may be incorporated into the days writing. I find actually playing music will sometimes silence the melody in my head and allow me to write.

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  6. You know, I’m actually having the TV on. It not only distracts me but also the cats. If it’s completely silence I permanently have them on my desk – and I can’t write with three Maine Coons climbing all over me.
    Listening to music (in particular my favorite Country Music) does distract me. Occasionally I’m listening to classical music, mostly Beethoven or Strauss.
    But I cannot write in total silence, very much like you.

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  7. Music is often the thing that inspires a blog entry. A song will get me thinking of a memory, an analogy, a theme, and it goes from there.

    I read a book in the mid 1980s called “Christine” by Stephen King. I don’t like the horror genre, but I read it because it is my name. One thing I liked about the book was how the author quoted lyrics from a song at the beginning of each chapter. I’ve thought about doing that, but it’d likely involve too much legality to get permission from each living artist.


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