Music and Writing: Yes
Music and Liz. The topic is too big to handle almost. I’ve been mulling over this subject for three days. I’ve studied my music library in Apple Music. I’ve explored my two YouTube accounts, and I still have no idea how to shape all this information into a blog post.
So I’m gonna focus on one theme in this post: music and writing.
Very often, I see this question pass by on Twitter: do you write in silence, or do you listen to music while writing? My answer is simple: I listen to music.
Having music playing in the background helps me to focus. It makes it easier for me to ignore sounds from outside the house.
But there are specific rules to this music. I have certain songs I listen to, to get in the mood before I start the work. I’ll also share with you the one song I listen to, to get the perfect love-making on paper.
Music as Warm-Up
For the longest time, there was one specific song I would listen to before I would start writing fiction: Iyansa by Faun. There was one YouTube clip where the band performed this song live that I particularly loved, but unfortunately, this clip was taken down. This video was extra special to me since I was there in the audience when it was recorded. Other performances with this song are still online though.
This song puts me in a trance of sorts. I use it to pass over from the real world to my imaginary world. The rhythm and intensity of the drums are magical.
I don’t use the effects of this song for fantasy writing. To me, it applies to any fiction writing, also to scenes that are set in the real world.
Losing myself in the music of this video gives me a good starting point to let go of my daily worries and to immerse myself in my own fantasies.
Inspired by Music: One Specific Line
Do I ever get inspired by songs themselves to write about? From the song ‘Orpheus’ by Saltatio Mortis, I used one line, but the song is so dear to me, it still earned a place in this post.
The arrangement is about Orpheus. The tale is about his love for Eurydice. He is finally allowed to take her from the underworld. There is only one condition: he must not turn around before they have reached the top. He is too worried that something has happened to his wife. He turns around.
The song makes me cry every time I hear it. I’m an empath. I’m good at feeling other people’s emotions, even fictional people. In this song, I just feel Orpheus’ pain the moment he turns around, knowing he has lost his wife once again, all through his own fault.
‘Und wenn deine Stimme
Nie mehr für uns Singt
Soll’n wir erfahr’n
Wie laut Stille Klingt’
‘And if your voice,
never sings for us again,
we shall learn
how loud silence sounds’
This last sentence gets me every time. The magnitude of these words is enormous.
It was a long time ago, but I did use that one sentence in a story of mine.
‘Orpheus’ may sound like any other rock song to everyone else, but to me, it’s a profoundly emotional experience, time and time again.
Inspired By Music: Genre
Let me take you to a less emotional world, namely the mythical realm of vampires.
Ever since True Blood came on TV, I was intrigued by these ubersexual immortal creatures. So when my favorite band Corvus Corax mentioned a song about vampires, they had my full attention.
To be completely honest, before I knew what the words meant, I thought it was a boring song. I’m never much for ballads, and this song was slow and slightly whiney.
But then I read the translation of the lyrics, and I saw it performed live. Castus, the lead singer of the band, mentioned Dracula in his introduction to this song and he interjected the song with the most perfect vampire laugh. It still gives me happy jitters to this day.
‘Mille Anni Passi Sunt’ is a song in Romanian about how one person turned the other into a vampire and how the new vampire still loves its maker. Hearing this song performed live, was a massive inspiration for me to write my own vampire stories. So for shameless self-promotion, these titles I published in this genre:
Music During Writing
During writing, I prefer the music I listen to, to be without words, or at least in a language I don’t understand. This is why I prefer artists like Wardruna and Danheim. They’re perfect for giving me focus while writing and the words don’t interfere with my writing. You could describe their style as ‘Viking’ music, it’s often inspired by old Scandinavian texts and instruments. And my old-Norse is not good enough to know what it’s about. The only word I can understand is ‘Yggdrasil.’
The second requirement for music to listen to while writing, is that I can’t have seen the artists perform live. I remember what they’ve done on stage, what people around me were doing, and what mishaps occurred during the performance. That’s way too distracting for me.
I did see Wardruna once at a festival, but I soon walked away. Maybe it’s just superstition, but I didn’t want to lose my ability to write to their music.
If I want to write an intense sex scene, I listen to ‘Hagall’ by Wardruna, sometimes even on repeat. Somehow it inspires me to great heights. It has the perfect rhythm and cadence for a sex scene. My best sex scenes are written to this song.
Many Ways to Combine Music and Writing
So yes, music means a lot to me, also in regards to my writing. It can set the right mood for writing, it can give me inspiration, and it can help me to get the words out. Often I prefer bands that I have seen perform live because that gives their music an extra dimension. The sound of the drums, the emotionality in the singer’s voice, it touches my heart directly while live. This forms a connection between me and the band that, even though it’s just a fan-rockstar connection, means a lot to me. And I use this connection to help me write. As a friend once said to me: it’s art inspiring art.