Music Creates a Mood

I played a piece of music for my husband yesterday, “Requiem for a Dream” by Clint Mansell. To me the melody was somewhat haunting, beautiful, melodic, creating an ‘otherworldly’ feeling to it. He listened to it and kept backing away from my chair.

“What is that? It’s very discordant. It’s evil.”

Okay…. hadn’t thought of it that way. A little creepy, yes. Dark & brooding, decidedly, but evil? Not a word I’d use to describe an instrumental piece of music. He absolutely hated the song. I was rather disappointed, because I really liked it. I was almost afraid to play it while he was out here. I waited until he went to bed to listen to the song.

I use a lot of music when I write. I like the tempo for pacing scenes. I use the mood the story creates to enhance my own as I write. I sometimes build a scene off a particular song, or mention it in the story itself as background to the action. One song upon which I built a story, was “Linger” by the Cranberries. It’s a slow, lilting, sorrowful melody. Why I chose it for this particular couple, I don’t know. They ended up together, rather than apart like the couple in the song. But it fit them.

Another song I used recently was “Primavera” by Ludovico Einaudi. I don’t know how many times I listen to this magnificent piece of music, but as I read, I feel the rhythm of the song throughout the story, particularly in the love scenes.

Carlos Santana’s melodies often feature in my stories. I love his music. It’s so intricate and evocative, making me want to dance and sing. I don’t know how many of my stories his songs are mentioned in, but at least four that I can think of right off the top of my head. My favorite songs are “Maria, Maria“, “Soul Sacrifice“, “Smooth” and “Europa“. There are others, but these feature the highest on my list.

I frequently hear songs on TV shows or in movies that fuel my creative juices. One such was a song I heard on “Jake 2.0” a very short lived television show. The song was lovely, sad, heart rending…. It took me over four hours to track it down on-line, but I finally found “Love Can Save Us All” by Tommy Homes. Another song I heard in a TV show was “Let It Be Me” by Ray LaMontagne. It was used as background to a scene in “Fringe”. Yet another, from an episode of “Lost”. It sounds like an old time gospel song, but it’s rather modern (1997). The title is “I Shall Not Walk Alone” by Ben Harper. The recording they used was sung by The Blind Boys of Alabama.

How does music affect your writing? Do you use it for pacing, inspiration, mood? Maybe it’s just there to block out the environment. (I do that too). Is music important to you? What type do you listen to when you write?

3 responses to “Music Creates a Mood”

  1. I use music to set the mood. Seeds of September starts in 1956, so you can imagine what music I listened to. Once I start writing, I have no idea what music is playing because I tune it out.


    • I use music as a buffer between me and the boys since I don’t have an office. It works only marginally well.


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