Sometimes, I’ll get someone who asks me what type of music I listen to – and my reply is always that I tend to listen to music without words.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to songs, I do listen to songs quite often and have quite a number of favorite artists in my iTunes library, ranging from blues and jazz to pop and the guilty pleasure or two, or three, or sixteen 🙂
Sometime in the mid-70s I started listening to and then collecting movie scores and soundtracks. And generally, if I’m listening to music, this is the genre I will gravitate towards. To be honest, my iTunes and iPod are set to play on shuffle, so I get a decent mix of music with words and orchestral movie scores – but the majority of the music is dramatic, epic and evocative.
It makes me feel like I’m doing more than just existing.
As a writer I get inspired by sounds and images, which then spark ideas and they eventually coalesce into a story – one I hope will be at least entertaining to someone who reads it. So many times I’ll listen to a particular track from a film score and a scene will play out on my head, and I’ll either start typing or make notes to get back to later. All of this was true during my early days playing D&D and trying to put together adventures for my friends. I would be there, alone in my room, my favorite soundtrack playing and suddenly – an encounter would appear in my mind and I would plan it out, all time perfectly with a piece of music. I tried very hard to make my games as cinematic as possible, to emotionally connect the players to what was happening. Because I wanted it to be more than just fighting monsters and collecting treasure – I want to tell stories that made people feel something.
So, take for example the following track from Marco Beltrami’s score to xXx: State of the Union – the seventh track down, the one labeled 3m7 No Tank You. Now, just for the moment, try to imagine what is happening as you listen to the music. I dare you not to get inspired by it – especially at the 2:28 mark.
If I was gonna be a super spy, performing some sort of over-the-top-heroic stuff – this is the kind of music I want playing in the background.
And so, when I sit at the keyboard and I’m struggling for the write combination to propel the story forward or to capture the action of a scene or just to get myself in the mood of the piece, I’ll turn to composers like Marco Beltrami, James Horner, Howard Shore, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Trevor Jones, Ramin Djawadi, and others to inspire me.
Call me silly or pretentious – I really don’t care. I love this type of music.
I think it’s there in all of our lives, even though we may not hear it all the time. We all have our own theme songs, right? 🙂
Ok, back to it… time to get writing.