Monday, August 29, 2011


Seen on the Helford River on 27/8/11
Two events over the weekend caused me to think about the importance of music. I was looking at a cartoon in one of the weekend papers. It showed the new twist - music to be a part of ebooks...which is interesting and complicated (thinking here of licensing etc...)

I don't listen to music when I write rough drafts because it distracts me and pulls me out of the story. On occasion I will have classical music playing but rarely. However when I'm editing or even thinking of editing music moves me and helps me to carve out the story from the raw draft. Sometimes, not always, I have my own little sound track for the books...which brings me back to ebooks with could be wonderful or it could ruin a book for me. If I love the music chosen perfect but what if it clashes with my feelings or interpretation of the story????

I know of three writers who always have soundtracks for their books Elizabeth Chadwick, Julia Williams and our own Julia Cohen (who blogged about it here )- very different writers - one historical and the other two contemporary. Elizabeth has a separate blog listing her sound tracks so that if readers wishes to know what inspired her they can seek it and Julia references key songs in her blog. Julie uses her blog to talk about the music too. That works for me. It's my choice if I want to know... How do you feel about it? I know for me a brilliant soundtrack can make a film...but a book? Two films and their soundtracks jump to mind - Twilight's soundtrack (first film only) I thought was brilliant and the other one was the soundtrack for Easy Virtue....then of course their are films where the music is better than the film - The Boat That Rocked (I enjoyed it but...)

So this leads me the second event where music took over. This weekend it was the village regatta. It is the major event of the years pulling all the local villages together around the river. In the evening there are fireworks and this for us as a family has always marked the 'end of summer' moment. This year as we walked down to the river, we stopped at the river cafe. It was festooned with coloured lights, a makeshift bar was fully loaded and a hog roast was being devoured. Kids dashed up and down the grassy banks. Wonderful but what stopped me in my steps was the sound of music and music that was so right.

Three men were playing a sea shanty - Haul Away Joe.  Here at at the side of the river beside the old chapel with the bell from a ship wreck off a nearby was right. Their voices were perfect and clear...heard over the shouts of the smalls and the chattered of conversation...It could have been a hundred years before except for the strings of lights above our heads. I know for certain that I wasn't the only one who thought the setting and music were a perfect match.... Has you had this happen? Have you used it in writing to evoke a setting or a mood?

Come back on Thursday to hear from Biddy


  1. Oh - I can't write to music either - though I would dearly love to!

  2. I write to music, Hans Zimmer's Dark knight theme from the Batman movie, 0or Gladiator. Really enjoy it!


  3. Confession time - I've never seen Twilight! I have, however, recorded it, and will watch it when I get back from my forthcoming holiday. I shall pay special attention to the music, having read your blog.

    Liz X

  4. I would hate to have a soundtrack forced on me because my taste in music is very odd. It's fine if there is a choice, as you said, but not if it's obligatory.
    I love the music to Pirates of the Carribbean and also the final piece of music in the Da Vinci Code - that was so powerful!
    Don't think I've ever used music in my writing - you've given me something to think about now!

  5. Essie - I know so many people who do and it would be nice even for a change.

    Maria - will have to check Hans Zimmer out

    Alison - she is and she was beautiful coming into the river under full sail.

    Liz - the music is brilliant and I still love listening to the soundtrack

    Pia - The music to Pirates is great too - had forgotten that...using music works for me if a particular song hits the theme of the book or sums up a helps me to keep my focus then...


  6. I seem to be the opposite to you! I can listen when I write the first draft, almost sets the scene but can't in the editing. I get too distracted.

    I think the Twilight (first movie) soundtrack is fantastic. I have also found it is a good one to write with if you need to drown out background noise. This could also be because I am writing YA so it fits :-)

    Stone Voice was written to Seth Lakeman's music. Even though he is from Devon not Cumbria his music is very English and folkish which gave me the right feeling.

    Not sure what music will work with my assassin... might have to go classical.

  7. I think Classical will help...fierce strong stuff, Biddy :-)


  8. I hadn't thought much about this before. I have noticed I generally write in silence but listen to music as I edit! I am aware that each of us has a preferred sense; mine is auditory, which means that sound, especially speech, tends to intrude on my thinking. It also means that my imagery tends to include a lot of sound, to the extent that I have even created some music to accompany key scenes. I wouldn't want to impose this on the reader though.

  9. Barry - that is so cool. You compose music for books! You must become totally immersed in the creative process if you can do that! I am in awe.