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Tunes to write to

Currently finishing the first draft of The Decay Chain and with the help of a friend from Germany, have found a number of music albums that are really providing the perfect paradoxical mix of angst, chill, atmosphere, energy and darkness for the book.

Three Mile Pilot - The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten
Deus - The Ideal Crash
Gotye - Like Drawing Blood
Readymade - All The Plans Resting
Anathem - A Natural Disaster
Boy&Bear - With Emperor Antarctica

Previous novels have been written to a constant presence of Radiohead albums, Coldplay, The Killers and Zero7 to name just a few. I had a mix for The Bhel Sea which helped me to get into the zone, and probably to keep a consistent musical "mood". Not sure how much effect music has on my writing, but it's likely to be significant.

Just as a mobile phone ringtone sample of a song forever "ruins" it, or associates it with a phone call (and I can't hear Nirvana now without thinking my sister is ringing for a chat...), hearing an album again that I wrote to a lot (such as Radiohead's - Hail to the Thief), puts me immediately back into that creative space and makes me want to open the laptop and start brainstorming new scenes.

So, I'm always looking for more recommendations for music, particularly mood music for writing. I asked some former Clarionites for their thoughts and was surprised to learn that more than a few prefer or must have no music or other distraction. I can understand that, and want silence or white noise for some activities, but not writing. Those who did reply with recommendations are listed below. If you have any more, please comment below, I would appreciate it:

Aidan Doyle

I like listening to music that I've heard over and over before - that
way I concentrate on the writing. I listen to Latin music, especially the samba music used in Carnival parade - I find the fast pace encourages me to write quicker.

Sean Williams

The tracks with highest rotation on my computer and my ipod all consist of
individual tracks I write to. I think I played some of it at Clarion,
particularly this one, the track I can write to literally anywhere:


Glancing at iTunes, these are my current top ten full albums (ignoring
repeated artists):

Steve Roach, "Sigh of Ages"
Patrick O'Hearn, "Glaciation"
Biosphere, "Shenzou"
Deepspace, "Another Empty Galaxy"
Meneki Neko, "Auracle"
Global Communication, "76:14"
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Insen"
Goldmund, "The Malady of Elegance"
David Parsons, "Inner Places:

All different, so all worth a go.

Steph Moriarty

I find it difficult to write to music with lyrics (or lyrics that I can understand - foreign languages can be okay), so I'm a soundtrack person. I use film scores to get me into a particular mood for a scene. Video game soundtracks can be excellent as well - I'm a big fan of Jeremy Soule and the music he produced for some of the Dungeons and Dragons-based games, such as Elder Scrolls and Neverwinter Nights.

Alex Hong

Baroque Instrumentals:

Bach, JS, Brandburg Concerto 5 Cadenza
Bach, JS, English Suite No. 5 Prelude
Bach, JS, French Suite No. 2
Couperin, Francois, Les Barricades Mysterieuses
Handel, GF, Suite No. 7 in G minor (The part I like, the Passacaille, starts at 4:10)
Purcell, Henry, Chaconne in G minor
Purcell, Henry, Ground in C minor
Rameau, Jean-Phillipe, La Forqueray
Rameau, Jean-Phillipe, Les Cyclopes (She starts playing at 0:35)
Scarlatti, Domenico, Sonata in D Minor K1
Scarlatti, Domenico, Sonata in D Minor K141
Vivaldi, Antonio, Concerto in G Minor for two cellos

Ones with words:

Purcell, Henry, Hark! Hark! Each tree its silence breaks...
Purcell, Henry, Cold Song

Elizabethan and earlier, plus other stuff:

Anonymous, My Lady Careys Dompe
Byrd, William, My Ladye Nevells Grownde
Gorecki, HM, Concerto Op. 40
Paganini, Niccolo, Caprice No.24

Angie Rega

I really like Brian Eno for great ambient music.
You can get his album - Neroli on YouTube at

Also, love classical -
Janacek's piano and violin symphonies
Frederick Delius is a bit busy but it's great to brainstorm ideas

Angela Slatter 

Florence + the Machine

Elizabeth Carroll

One of my favourites is a mixed cd made by a friend years ago with Radiohead's 'How to Disappear Completely' on it. The Solaris sound track and Lisa Gerard's Whalerider also get heavy work-outs. And strangely, Fleet Foxes can work in bits and pieces - again it seems to be more about the music and emotion, and less about competing words.

... and look up Ian MacDonald's playlist at the back of 'River of Gods'. Much cool stuff to be found there.

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Reader Comments (2)

Actually, this reminds me that I went through a Fleet Foxes and a Zero 7 phase for different stories :)

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

I dont know them, so will be checking them out. Cheers Steph.

September 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterBen Julien

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