Musical Foreplay

I’ve read about music to listen to while you write, but not about the music you listen to in the hours when you are not writing. For me the music I listen to when I’m not writing is more important!

Music with a specific purpose

The novel I’m working right now has many layers of cultural/socio-polical complexity. It’s non-American centered, set in a made up country in Melanesia and has an ensemble cast.

I have a Spotify soundtrack that contains some of the music that resonates with Palamawe, from traditional songs of Papua New Guinea, to Reggaeton, to Thai Rock and Roll, to Pinoy Pop music. Listening to it reconnects me of the complexity of my setting in a way that is fun and easy. It dampens the background radiation of my day to day life and cultural assumptions. It makes me think of what music is missing and if there are voices missing in my story.

I can think about who would be listening to what music and in what circumstances.  It gets me thinking about my characters in new ways while my body is cleaning or exercising. What music do Jack and Bayan argue about? In quieter times did Eva play guitar by the light of a campfire? I chuckle at the idea of Eva playing ukelele as a young woman, the first time I’ve really thought about Eva when she wasn’t a matriarch with a bazillion responsibilities. What’s on Abua’s iPod during the long drives to the FTC compound?

I often can’t listen to this playlist when I’m working on my novel, although that was my original intention. It’s too distracting and eclectic. But I like the way it gets my brain moving through the world in new ways.

Music to say @$#% you world! I have things to say!

They Might Be Giants album for kids Science is Real makes me feel happy. Meet the Elements and The Alphabet of Nations remind me of the diversity and potential of the world. They make me a little moist around the eyeballs and make me want to write stories that inspire that kind of wonder.

Lights Camera Action by Bliss N Esso remind me that you have to keep working. And that even if you ‘make it’ you’ve got to work hard to keep your voice and make the art you love. I love the slogging pace of this song, the rhythm makes me think of putting your shoulder to the plough and pushing.

“You wanna rhyme but are you in it for the long run. ’cause you dream about platinum on this mic, you better wake the f@$k up, it don’t happen over night”

My intelligence rails against any notion of perfect and celebrating drinking culture too much makes me feel queasy.

But I go to Pink so that my lonely rebel self can feel love, community and determination.

People in the Front Row” by Hilltop Hoods makes me happy. It plugs me into the wonderful feeling I aspire towards and seldom get, when you know your words have been of service and have made a connection. I enjoy listening to hiphop play with language. The hiphop I listen to often talks about process, politics, and the struggle to make authentic, fresh art.

What’s your musical foreplay?

For bringing your world to life or for just shaking your hands to the sky and saying I SHALL CREATE! What is the soundtrack you use to hold true to your passions and make you better at chasing your dreams?

Post links to the music you love in the comments or do a blog post about the music that muses you. Share the awesome :-).

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6 responses

  1. Nothing quite like diving into the deep emotion 🙂

    I listen to gregorian chants when writing too! There’s something about that baroque rumble that blocks out other things, without being too intrusive. Monks do seem to know a thing or two about meditative music.

    You’ve reminded me, I haven’t listened to shakuhachi music for a long time and I find it to be a useful reset. (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRizZcreWPI).

  2. I once listened obsessively to Echo and the Bunnymen while writing a novel. I do not blame them for the novel’s faults . . . but the plot developments “inspired” by sudden flashes of brilliant insight into lyrics were not among my best choices. Now, if I listen to music while writing, it’s either instrumental or in a foreign language. Gregorian chants sound like a good idea. You could also try Philip Glass’s soundtrack to “Kundun.”

  3. It’s a shame that Echo and the Bunnymen mused you in the wrong direction. Maybe they need a short story to strut their funky stuff in… where they won’t endanger the whole scaffolding. Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll check out the Kundun soundtrack. I love soundtracks when working. Daft Punk’s soundtrack for the new Tron movie can get words out of me, I may have to see the movie sometime.

    • Daft Punk doesn’t do it for me when it comes to writing inspiration, but I know it does wonders for others.

      Of late I’ve been on a Celtic/Nordic kick: Irish Chieftains, Faun, S.J. Tucker, Heather Dale. While walking, those songs will get the blood and words stirring.

  4. Pingback: December Catchup | Liz Argall

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