The Music of Writing

Recently I was accepted into an anthology called Song Stories Vol 1. As part of the publicity for the book, the editor has organised a music-based blog hop.

What is wanted is a discussion or something about how music has influenced an author’s writing. I looked at it, went, “Yeah,” and thought little of it.

But it would not leave me and, really, the more I thought about it, the more I realised music is especially important when I write.

Apart from my series of stories called “Every Song Tells A Story” (more than 25 done, of which about 10 are any good), music has been a subtle, background influence. Side note – I used this when I was a teacher: the students had to find a song they liked, get its lyrics, and then use those lyrics as the basis of a story. Nice way to get the creative juices flowing.

Anyway, I found that when I was in high school and started this thing we shall laughingly call my “writing career” that certain types of music influenced certain styles of writing and their overall feel.

Poetry was influenced by classical music, particularly pieces without lyrics. It can even be seen by reading some of the poems I wrote back then by their what music was playing at the time. (Bach was obviously high on my playlist back then.)

Fantasy was influenced by heavy metal and hard rock, and even classic rock. My first decent completed novel was written under the influence of Led Zeppelin IV, AC/DC’s Back In Black and some Jimi Hendrix… at least musically. Even my fantasy short stories tend to have similar soundtracks. For example, in the 1990s The Who featured prominently with my so-called Secludos ethos stories.

Science fiction was written with 1980s pop (especially New Romantics and their ilk) and/or David Bowie blasting through the headphones. I think it was the synthesised sound that did it.

Horror, though – by far the genre most of my stories have adopted – is generally supported by 1960s and 1950s music. Year Of Change was written almost completely with the strains of Del Shannon pounding me relentlessly. Having said that, my latest horror story (yet to be discussed here, written for my TAFE writing course) had a lot of Mike Oldfield in the background, which is pretty far removed from that normally associated with horror in my mind.

And my humour does not have a musical backing. It has a visual one – classic black and white horror movies. Go figure.

(Side note number 2: When studying for high school exams, different music helped with different subjects – opera for English, 1950s & 1960s for Latin, classic rock & hard rock for maths 1 & 2, pop music for chemistry, and late 1960s music for physics. It helped… eventually.)

Anyway, I thought this wasn’t the case anymore, but have found that as I complete my latest novel (yes, another one, even having only finished the TAFE one not that long ago) I have been listening to a lot of The Beatles. It’s a young adult fantasy, for what the genre’s worth.

So music and my writing are pretty entwined. It’s nice to think about it like that.

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