Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life at the Keyboard- Music

Like most writers, I spend the majority of my time during the weekdays here- in front of the computer. I check emails, chat with friends, blog and read other blogs and I work on my novels and revisions with all those notebooks and pads of paper scattered around me- sometimes with music as the backdrop and sometimes the comforting silence is my companion. Depends on what I'm dealing with at the moment.

Weekends are a bit harder because I don't have a writer's cave I can disappear into. I'm planted in the living room and weekends or days off from school/work for the kids or hubby tend to become a major distraction. Hubby usually has to have to television on or the kids are playing or needing something at all times. It's then that I slam the headphones on and lose myself in music that fits what I'm working on. It varies.

Sometimes I make a playlist of really romantic soft slow songs and other times I just need that pounding rhythm rocking it out, blurring the lines around me so that I'm sucked into the story.

During the writing process, I generally use songs that fit the moment, the momentum and the emotion my characters are going through. There are scenes that need melody, but not lyrics and that's when I turn to one trusted musician-Jim Brickman. Any of his piano instrumentals can give me the boost I need without so much as a word (though I still can include the one he did with Martina McBride- My Valentine.)

I have seen times where music cannot possibly help me and so I turn it all off. No music, just sweet comforting silence. Well, almost silence- the computer humming, the ceiling fan's whirring, the washer or dryer in the background.

My musical tastes and needs vary from novel to novel. During the writing of my paranormal historical, I chose songs that haunted me, slow, heartbreaking songs that filled me with melancholy and heartache in order to achieve the mood I needed to get the emotions onto the page. A few songs in particular from when I wrote that one are from The Ben Taylor Band's Famous Among the Barns album. Island, No More Running Away, Rain, and Tonight.

During my contemporary about the country singer- yes- I absolutely relied on country music to do it for me. Brooks and Dunn, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Clint Black. I used Garth Brooks (as Chris Gaines) with songs like That's the Way I Remember It, Lost in You, and Driftin' Away. This one is not linked because the CD was discontinued by the manufacturer. Maybe it wasn't his brightest, shiniest moment when he went a little split personality- but I actually really liked the CD and the songs I mentioned in particular.

Most of what I use are songs from contemporary artists. The list could go on and on but a few of my all time favorites to use while writing are-

98º-Was It Something I Didn't Say, Take My Breath Away, I Wasn't Over You, Don't Stop The Love
Maroon 5- She Will Be Loved, Must Get Out, Sunday Morning, Sweetest Goodbye, Little of Your Time, Won't Go Home Without You, Nothing Lasts Forever, Goodnight Goodnight, Not Falling Apart, Better That We Break, Back At Your Door (sometimes their entire albums)
Alicia Keys- No One, Like You'll Never See Me Again, Fallin'
Whitney Houston- Nobody Loves Me Like You Do
Meat Loaf- If This Is The Last Kiss (Let's Make It Last All Night)
Robin Thicke- Flowers In Bloom, Cherry Blue Skies, Complicated, Lost Without U, Sidestep, Magic, The Sweetest Love, Cry No More
Jewel- Stronger Woman, I Do, Thump Thump, Loved By You (Cowboy Waltz), Near You Always, Morning Song, You Were Meant For Me

There are plenty more, but I'll save any other references to music choices for another blog, but I will leave on this note. One of the ones I have used the most and actually listened to over and over again is Sara Bareilles' Little Voice.

The link takes you to the newer version, which has a 2nd CD I didn't get when I originally got it.

Of few of my absolute favorites off there- One Sweet Love, Gravity, Love Song, and Between the Lines- Fairytale is fun, but in all honesty, it's an absolutely great CD all around.

Do you listen to music when you write? If you do, what are some of yours? Are there any songs you find yourself listening to repeatedly, regardless of which manuscript you're working on?


Devon Matthews said...

Taryn, I've one of the minority who has never listened to music *while* I write. I would be listening instead of thinking, so it doesn't work for me. Instead, I have one of those portable air filters with the fan in here. The fan dulls noises from other parts of the house, like the sound of the tv playing in the living room.

I used to listen to music to get myself in a certain mood before writing. Marty Robbins' old cowboy and gunfighter ballads. Some of those are absolutely haunting. Back when I worked on my medieval, I listened to the soundtrack from the Robin Hood series that was on Showtime nearly 25 yrs. ago. The music is Clannad, and Enya was still their front person then. Other than that, I'm all over the place as far as music goes.

Magdalena Scott said...


I fear I will wear out my Norah Jones "Come Away with Me" CD, as I play it at least once a day. Other than that, just quiet classical, or *ahhhh* silence.

Janet C. Fish said...

This is an interesting topic. I used to write. I needed quiet, never did listen to music, not even classical. Sounds became something to tune out, for me, as a writer.

When I make visual art though, during part of the process I often put on music I enjoy, depending on my own mood.

Sometimes I'll be working and put on the 1812 Overture. That's quite stimulating music. I can't listen to music when I'm doing certain aspects of my creative task. The rest of the time, it can help.

I found that I could not both write and make visual art in the same general period of time. I simply could not switch back and forth.

Visual art is my passion, so that's what I follow.

But the point is, the brain is an interesting thing. When it comes to the arts, I think things can get complicated inside our gray matter. Each person will do what works. I doubt scientists know why one writer benefits from music while she is writing, and the next needs quiet.

I love reading your blog.

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks so much ladies, for stopping by and leaving your comments.

It is amazing how differently it works for all of us. I think for me, music has been a backdrop in my life- always there- my cousin played the drums and had records around and my parents listened to a variety of music from classical to rock to country. My grandmother always played the organ and the guitar and the French harp, too. My dad played the guitar and the piano/keyboard.

Music- lyrics and melody sometimes feel imbedded in my soul as much as my desire to write. :D

Thanks again ladies! Glad you stopped by.