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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Music to write by (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Music to write by
KStar
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I make playlists that I listen to while I write. Before I started, I made a list of about 20 songs that inspire me, with semi-cohesive themes. I make sure to always listen to the same songs while I'm writing and I feel like it keeps me on track.

There is one song in particular that inspired me to write my story to begin with, though my plot has nothing to do with it, I have created little scenes around some of the lyrics.

Do you do this? If you do, what song do you like to write to?


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jaycloomis
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Well, not so much as one song, but a certain type of song.

I can't decide which playlist I like exactly, or what bands I prefer listening to when I write, but I definately prefer calm music over up-beat stuff.

Lately I haven't been much in the mood for music due to lack of new songs (I tire of songs pretty fast). Christopher Paolini (curse his name) wrote that he was listening to Beethoven while he wrote the final battle in Eragon. I haven't listened to Beethoven since.
-Jay

[Edited because I couldn't spell Beethoven :P (Baetoven I thought, pft)]

[This message has been edited by jaycloomis (edited November 28, 2007).]


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Vanderbleek
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I always listen to music...I get nifty scene ideas from music. And it's much nicer than the clack-clack of my keyboard.

I've been listening to a lot of power metal lately...I absolutely love Pandora...it only plays what I like, and it's free.

George Lucas said he wrote to music as well.


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annepin
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Nothing but silence for me. I get too distracted, or the music affects my writing too much--i.e. upbeat music makes me write up beat scenes, even if it's not necessarily supposed to be up beat. Also, anything with lyrics pretty much screws me up.
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TaleSpinner
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Film music is good for this. Much of it's designed to be in the background, not too intrusive.

I'd recommend "Yo Yo Ma plays Ennio Morricone". Yo Yo Ma's rich cello brings out the best in Morricone's romantic film scores, running the full range of human emotions: sooner or later a soaring melody or sweet harmony will inspire an idea in the writer.

Sadly, I also like the music from the Bond movies.

Pat


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InarticulateBabbler
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Oooo. Music.

For writing, most often it's instrumentals. If I like a song, I'm passionate about it, and I will trace off into the lyrics.

Songs with lyrics that can inspire:

  • And Then There Was Silence by Blind Guardian. (Any 14 minute theatrical song about the fall of Troy can't be bad.)
  • Agony and Ecstasy in eight parts by Manowar
  • Anything from Therion's album The Secret of the Runes. (Since the "singer" is a Norwegian Choir, and it is about Odin's dicovery of the meaning of Runes--which in turn made him a god--it's all good.)
  • Who Tends the Fire by Over Kill
  • Anything off of Horrorshow or Dark Saga by Iced Earth. (Again, both are theme albums. Horrorshow is dedicated to Classic Hollywood horror films: Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Mummy, Phantom of the Opera, and the like. Dark Saga is a metal/rock opera about the comic character Spawn.)
  • Return to Serenity, The Ballad, Trail of Tears, and The Ritual by Testament
  • The albums Streets: A Rock Opera and Gutter Ballet, and the song Hall of the Mountain King by Savatage
  • Flight of the Skajaquada by Green Jelly

(Interesting side note, the band Winterfell was formed around the George R. R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire series. And they asked for and were granted permission to use characters and themes. The Song Winter is Coming is evidence.)

Song without lyrics:

  • To Live is to Die and Orion by Metallica. (The second movement of the latter song was my wedding march.)
  • Musical Death (A dirge), Last Call, and Urotsukidoji by Testament
  • Silk and Steel by Savatage
  • Hall of the Mountain King - Wagner
  • The Moonlight Sonata and most pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Rossini

I'll add to this when I can think about it.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited November 28, 2007).]


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wetwilly
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InarticulateBabbler, are you by any chance writing a story about super-cheesy 80's metal bands?
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debhoag
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I youtube all the time when I'm writing. Wild Nights, the Mellencamp version, Rod Stewart's Downtown Train, Tom Waites, Matchbox 20, Santana, just about anything by Aerosmith, Ricky Lee Jones, Wallflowers, Bob Dylan. Head East, Bunch of other mellencamp stuff, bruce springsteen, Dog's Eye View. Christina Aguilera (I don't think that's spelled right) Tom Jones, Prince, Kelly Clarkson. I write in the same room the kids watch TV in, - Lara Croft movie in right now - so often, there is also movie noise going around. And I have answered the phone about 97 times tonight since I got home from work (13 year old boy in the house. I like Youtube because I can watch it when I feel like, or just keep hitting repeat if I want to. Chuck DJ's sometimes, so he's got a bunch of playlists on the computer, but there's always a few clinkers in there.
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KStar
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Usually I listen to somethign foreign, Sigur Ros is an Icelandic band that makes incredible music, and it compliments writing very well.

I youtube as well, Sigur Ros videos mainly. I'm like an ad for the band! ha.

My main inspirational song is "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. But Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Audioslave and Joni Mitchell I listen to a lot while I write. I try to listen to intense songs when writing intense scenes, and sweet songs for emotional scenes.


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wrenbird
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TaleSpinner, I LOVE listening to film scores! I use the Yahoo online radio. They have a film score station.
I am a big fan of James Horner, also Hans Zimmer, John Williams, you know, the essentials. Morricone is a classic.
I like pretty much anything film score.

Oh yes, and Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings score is an absolute staple. IMHO, it is the best film score ever.


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debhoag
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KStar, I just checked out Hoppipolla; pretty cool. Thanks for the tip
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ChrisOwens
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Like Anne, I must have silence. I think it has something to do with brain organization. I get too distracted. Of course, when I'm not writing, I do enjoy music, although more and more, during the commutes to work, I've been lured toward listening to podcasts and free audio books, especially that which I wouldn't normally read. For instance, I listened to Tom Sawyer. Then The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. Now going through Frankenstein.

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 28, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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I usually listen on my iPod if I need to tune out distracting sounds. Anything I've listened to enough times that I can zone out the words and focus on the writing works.
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halogen
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For writing I prefer music without lyrics. Cyrosleep is one of my favorite Internet radio stations.
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KayTi
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wrenbird, ditto on the Howard Shore scores, though honestly I find they evoke the mood of the movies so much for me (having watched them each numerous times) that they're not exactly a match for me for writing. I also don't have them on my ipod, I keep running out of room (I have 4 audiobooks on it right now, need to listen to those or just cut bait and give up!) My favorite is the Rohan pieces from Two Towers. The french horns, the feeling of majesty. Really nifty. In my next life I plan to extend my musical knowledge so I could compose. Right now I only know enough to be annoying to those who know something about music.

Meanwhile, for me for writing, I find I really need music if I'm out. I write a lot in Starbucks, and I don't prefer their music, plus there are often people carrying on loud conversations nearby (sidenote: great place to get some good story ideas, just put in the headphones and neglect to turn on the music...you can learn a lot from people by what they talk to their friends/coworkers about at starbucks!)

Someone on another board said that they need to listen to music they are familiar with when writing, because then they kind of tune it out. That sounds right to me, because most of what i carry with me on my ipod I've listened to hundreds of times. A few songs make me stop and smile at some memory they bring up or something (Crowded House's Mean to Me, or Midnight Oil's Forgotten Years or Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes all have strong memory associations for me) but it's generally temporary. I feel that listening to music while out really helps me to focus and sometimes I find that I'm typing to the beat.

In addition to the above, I mostly listen to alternative rock, but I have really random tastes. I like Goo Goo Dolls, Blink 182, The Killers, Material Issue, REM, Beastie Boys, Eminem. I like some folkish stuff, the college bands we used to listen to (Poi Dog Pondering, The Samples, They Might be Giants, Mighty Might Bosstones, Trip Shakespeare, Naked Raygun, Violent Femmes, Weird Al - who, by the way, is a lyrical genius) I have a bunch of 80s and 90s mixes and some movie soundtracks that are pretty good (I highly recommend the Empire Records soundtrack. Somewhat forgettable movie. Highly unforgettable soundtrack.)

And then I have a dozen or more CDs worth of classical - heavy on the brass, but some standbys like Wagner, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, and some lesser known - Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Gabrieli, oh, and a CD by the Bulgarian Woman's Choir which is one of the more unusual things I've ever heard but I just love. A lot of Andrew Lloyd Weber too. And, eep, John Denver. My guilty pleasure. Ay calypso! About the only thing I don't like is really crazy fusion jazz (love piano-based jazz like vince guraldi), and country/western.


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NoTimeToThink
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I have never been inclined to listen to music when trying to write (being an incurable karaoke junkie, I tend to sing or hum whenever I hear any sort of tune, and I do not multi-task very well).

However -

After reading this topic, I'm wondering about deliberately trying to alter my state of mind, to help break the usual mode/mood I am in - maybe listen to a lot of heavy metal to get my writing heading that way, or Sousa marches, or Ragtime. I figure if music in a movie score can help get the audience in the right rhythm for the movie, why not use music to help change the rhythm & feel of my writing?

I suppose I could use physical props, too. Back in my acting days there was a character I just couldn't do unless I started out with a cigar in my mouth (actually, it was a marker pretending to be a cigar)....

[This message has been edited by NoTimeToThink (edited November 29, 2007).]


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Kurim21
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I find The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dresden Dolls help me get into a creative mood.
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Lynda
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I find that when I'm in "the creative zone" whether sculpting or writing, I'm more content when I'm listening to lush, gorgeous music. So I listen to Enya, Josh Groban, Il Divo, sometimes Russel Watson (the first is Celtic, Josh is pop/classical, Il Divo is classical/pop, Watson is classical - my college degree is in music and I sang opera for 7 years, so my choices are influenced by that). My best friend paints to Mozart or rock music, but I can't have anything too "bouncy" or anything I want to sing along to when writing, especially, so my Sandi Patty and Mercy Me (both Christian Contemporary) CDs stay in the studio for me to sculpt to. I like Five for Fighting, but I stop to listen to "Superman" and the one about 100 years (brain just died, sorry - I'm fighting a cold) because I like them so much, so that's not good "work" music. I can work to Enya for days on end. Movie scores may be good to write to - I haven't tried. They distract me too much when I'm sculpting. I'm particularly fond of John Williams' music and have tried writing to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or any of the Harry Potter music, but that music gives me visual memories that gets in the way of writing (the music reminds me too much of the films they're from).

Lynda


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Robert Nowall
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I used to, in the olden days when I was young and music came on these big foot-wide grooved black disks called "albums," or "LPs." I'd put three of them (and at one point, I only had three of them) on a turntable spindle, and one by one they'd drop down, the arm would swing over and drop into the beginning of the groove, and I'd get about an hour of music before I'd have to get up and put more stuff on. Or I could rig it so it would continuously play one side, about twenty minutes at a time usually, until I made it stop. (I had some smaller disks, called "45s," that only played one song on each side, but they were much more limited.)

I started with The Beatles, moved on to Buddy Holly, then to various rock albums and then classical and country and comedy and anything that took my fancy. There was also a thing called "radio," which played endless streams of music (and commercials, and news, and in-between patter by disk jockeys.)

But I gradually gave it up. I got to realizing I wasn't listening to the music playing. I'd listen, or I'd write, but I wasn't doing both.

Also along the way I became a news junkie, and transfered my listening habits to that. Right now, in the next room, I've got a TV going with Fox News on, and I can break off and listen to it. But if I get deep into writing, I won't hear it at all. Sometimes I stop and come up for air, and some big story is breaking---and I've missed the beginning of it completely.


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wrenbird
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KayTi, my favorite is the Hobbit theme. Especially the part in the movie where Frodo is leaving the Fellowship. Track 17 on the first album. Track 18 on the Two Towers is excellent too.
I don't own an ipod, so I still use cds
I also like the Rohan theme, the part with the the violin solo. I'm a strings solo fan. I play the cello. That's another reason why I love John Williams. He's written some gorgeous stuff for the cellos like Yoda's theme, Seven Years in Tibet theme, oh. . . and who could forget the Jaws theme.

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Zero
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John Williams ... 'nuff said.
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Marzo
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I have some playlists arranged by mood, and some by culture/geographical origin. Most of what I listen to when I write is instrumental, with plenty of soundtracks. Yo Yo Ma, Bruno Coulais, Yann Tiersen, and Joe Hisaishi are some of my favorite artists for writing music, just off the top of my head.

I find silence too ominous when I write, so the music prevents me from freezing up. I don't waste too much time looking for songs for any particular scene, since I have a good handle on what I have. It's a good motivator and mood-setter.

Sometimes a particular character, setting, or even a whole work will develop a "theme song" over time.


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KStar
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Marzo- sounds similar to what I do.
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RMatthewWare
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quote:
I find The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dresden Dolls help me get into a creative mood.

I love the Dresden Dolls!

quote:
I'd get about an hour of music before I'd have to get up and put more stuff on.

How far we've come. From LP's to iPods. I have enough music on mine to play music for four days without stopping and without repeating a single song. And yet, there's something about vinyl.

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JeanneT
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I write (like a number of people) frequently to the LotR soundtrack but I also love the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans--which is odd since I can't stand the movie.
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wrenbird
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Jeanne,
I love the music from the Last of the Mohicans too, and I've never even seen the movie.
My favorite track is "The Kiss."

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ChrisOwens
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I can't write with music, but I love the LOTR soundtracks. In 2002/03 that's almost all I listened too. Over and over again. Very complex. Very emotional. Beyond an ordinary soundtrack, it's a masterpiece. Howard Shore should be put in the musical pantheon alongside the Greats.
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annepin
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The LotR sound track always makes me cry... I couldn't imagine writing to it since it has such strong connotations from the movie.

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I am destiny
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Robert: too funny I just unpacked my box of LP's my kids were going what is that?

Lets see, I can listen to anything if I know it. If it is new, get distracted.

My play list includes:
Pink Floyd
Depeche Mode
Linkin Park
All American Rejects
Finger Eleven
Brian Setzer
Sarah McLachlan
Tori Amos
Duran Duran
Crash Test Dummys
New Radicals
Maroon 5
Incubus
Sting
The Coors
Enya
Pink Panther sound track
X Files the album
Keane
KT Tungstal
Snow Patrol
Evanesence
The Best of Kansas
Art Of Nosie
Styx Greatest Hits
Shakespears Sister
The The
Level 42
Pirates Of The Carribean soundtrack
Kate Bush
David Lanz
Braveheart soundtrack
Peter Gabriel

there you have it... wow!

[This message has been edited by I am destiny (edited November 29, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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quote:
I also love the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans--which is odd since I can't stand the movie.

It doesn't seem odd to me. My high school English teacher would play the soundtrack while we were writing. The music is very peaceful. But once I saw the movie I loved it too.

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dienstag
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The self-titled Motley Crue album with John Corabi. And also the soundtrack to Stealing Beauty for nice eclectic mix of more girly songs.
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SchamMan89
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I find Muse and Coldplay to be great, current bands.

Video game music such as Legend of Zelda or even the orchestrations from the newest Mario game on the Wii do wonders for me.

Imogen Heap, Kansas, Kenny Loggins and Styx have some great stuff. For me though, the greatest inspirational song that I've found is "Into the West" by Annie Lennox. Fantastic.

~Chris


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ArCHeR
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For me it was the Smashing Pumpkin's "Soma" that inspired my biggest WIP. But generally I prefer to listen to music before I write while I waste time posting on forums and playing Tetris, and then whenever the album/playlist I'm listening to is finished I write in the dead silence afterwards.

There's just something about being enveloped in the music, and then dropping into the dead silence that's like quenching and tempering my mind... And then I just write... And it's usually done very late, so that there are no other sounds... Just complete silence.

But the music beforehand is quite important...


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Igwiz
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I often find that music is a great doorway for me. I get a lot of ideas by letting classical or rock or anything wash over me without really paying attention to the music. But I know my brain is listening and getting "channeled" into a more creative mode.

I can't write, however, with music in the background. For me, the creativity is somewhat separate from the mechanics of writing it down. The music helps me think it up, but silence helps me build it.


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KStar
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Archer- Soma does it for me too. It's on my current playlist.
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ArCHeR
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Yeah, the song's meaning is pretty useless to me, but the mood is just perfect for inspiration.

I miss the times when Corgan actually had some dynamics in his vocals. Zeitgeist is nothing but his harder voice and it gets boring after a while...


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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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my play list for wrighting is all LED ZEPP and PINK FLOYD.

through in a bottle of JACK and my HOOHKA and a pack of ciggeretts i am set to wright for 7 hours.

Rommel Fenrir Wolf II


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Robert Nowall
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Should've said I do listen to music...I took over two thousand songs off my collection of CDs and put them onto my computer. (I haven't yet "taken" to downloading songs online and such, or iPods or MP3s. Don't know why, really---in my heyday, I was an inveterate taper-offer from the radio, and downloading isn't that much of a jump.)

I use an FM repeater and pipe the music elsewhere in the house (the fidelity seems okay)...I burn CDs for my car or one of my players.

I just hardly use any of this vast array of technology to listen to music when writing.


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KStar
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Robert- I feel you. Someone gave me an ipod about 2 1/2 years ago, about a month ago I finally learned how to use it! I still make mixed-tapes!
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JeanneT
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I find having good music playing (I'm not sure I'd call it listening exactly) while I work really increases my productivity. Most of the time I don't even consciously hear it, but it seems to spark something that helps me get out what I want to put down.
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Grijalva
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I really can't listen to anything with lyrics, just really throws me off. But I do like to listen to songs played on the piano. One person I listen to a lot is Lang Lang.
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Robert Nowall
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Had an MP3 for a few months...it didn't have the power to pump what I wanted where I wanted...then a few months later it broke.

Probably I'll pick one up when I buy a new car and it has the right connections to plug it into the radio...


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Kakichi
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Wow, I'm surprised but not to see that only one person here besides myself even mentioned video game music. Granted, for me since games are a passion of mine, mostly for the stories and the music, I listen to my vast selection of video game music as well as LoTR full soundtracks and other wordless cd's.

glad to see at least someone appreciates video game music though, a lot of people here or anywhere really would probably be surprised at how good a lot of it can be, especially for writing!

Kendall


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ArCHeR
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I like game music... while I'm playing a game...
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Wolfe_boy
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If anyone is interested in some emotive New-classical (though Wikipedia calls it Post-Rock Insturmental) stuff, I can highly recommend Rachel's album The Sea and The Bells, except for the track names "The Sirens" which (while effective given the subject material) will likely make your ears bleed.

The rest of the album is just chock full of ideas and emotions, and is completely insturmental.

Jayson Merryfield

[This message has been edited by Wolfe_boy (edited December 06, 2007).]


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EP Kaplan
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I like Listening to Blind Guardian albums. The aforementioned And Then There Was Silence is a fantastic song to "get lost in". So are a lot of heavy metal albums, especially black metal, if you don't mind the occasional pagan (or outright anti-Christian) theme. Or lyrics in languages you will never hope to speak.

In fact, bands like Finntroll and Ásmegin, who tend to produce flowing albums completely devoid of any language I speak, are excellent for blocking put distractions. Three hours of Swedish, Norwegian, or Russian are three hours where the only English getting done is the English I put on the page.

Just a few of my favorite metal bands to listen to while writing
Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Demons and Wizards, Finntroll, Ásmegin, Amon Amarth, Aria, Human Fortress, Rammstein, although some of their more humorous songs, such as Mein Teil, about a famed German cannibal, tend to disrupt my concentration with bouts of laughter.


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wetwilly
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Because if there's anything that cracks me up, it's people eating other people.

Wow, EP Kaplan, people actually LISTEN to those bands?


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DeepDreamer
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I also like videogame music, particularly anything from the Final Fantasy series. The FFX music collection was one of the best investments I ever made. I also have a somewhat eclectic mix of movie and tv soundtracks. I'm particularly fond of the music from FullMetal Alchemist, Requiem for a Dream, and Firefly/Serenity.

I also group music playlists by mood. I've got "dark", "soulful", "dreamy", "tense", "courage" and many more I can't think of off the top of my head.


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EP Kaplan
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armin_Meiwes
This was not your usual case of cannibalism.

Of course, Rammstein's knack for German wordplay helps with the humor.
A quick translation, of the latter half of verse two, done of the top of my head.
"It's just so very well seasoned/ and so beautifully flambeed/ and so lovingly served on porcelain/ with a good wine and soft candlelight/ for one must have some culture/ Because you are what you eat/ and you know what it is/ it is my part"

People listen to these bands, what else would they do? Most of it is not exactly dance music (bass hi-hat, bass hi-hat).
Lots of people, actually. The single for And Then There Was Silence topped charts across Eurasia. No 14-minute "A" track gets radio play. That's pretty gorram impressive. Rammstein, Blind Guardian, and Iced Earth are pretty famous, at least on a global scale. Viking/Asatru themed Amon Amarth, named for Tolkien's Mount Doom, is getting there.
Metal's roots, apart from blues/rock, lie in traditional western folk and classical. A well constructed metal album flows a symphony.

---
EDIT- DeepDreamer: What's your favorite Uematsu soundtrack? I'm kinda partial to the FFVII OST. One-Winged Angel, Shin-Ra, so many classics...

[This message has been edited by EP Kaplan (edited December 10, 2007).]


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DeepDreamer
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Must I pick just one favorite? I've just got too many favorites!
I've always been fond of the Prelude from FF1, in all its variations throughout the series. I love the simplicity and hope embodied in that melody. From FFVII, I love J-E-N-O-V-A. And I've sooo many favorites from FFX - every boss battle theme, and so many of the quieter ones as well, particularly To Zanarkand, and Suteki Da Ne, the orchestral version.

Nobuo Uematsu is a brilliant composer, right up there with Mozart and Beethoven IMHO.


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