Music Monday: Seething & Festering

Festering creativity...If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll know by now that music is an important aspect of my writing routine.

When writing articles, I tend to listen something upbeat and peppy (live stuff by The Clash, Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Chemical Brothers work well) – anything to keep me moving and to help me get my work out of the way so I can play.

Fiction writing, on the other hand, needs music with a little more finesse. Ambient, trance, drone – these are the genres that help me tap into that deeper place where my creativity seethes and festers.

My latest playlist includes:

Somehow, this music helps me to unearth my voice by allowing me to channel to that deep, dark place, where the words seem to come from someone (or some place)…else.

At the very least, it allows me to provide a place for those strange thoughts to mushroom up into something that will hopefully scare your socks off.

I tell myself that so I don't have to think of my sinister alter-ego and the strange whisperings at night…

Photo: tijmen van dobbenburgh

26 comments to Music Monday: Seething & Festering

  • Jenny Beans  says:

    One of the bands I listen to a lot when writing hardcore horror is Cradle of Filth. They are so brutal and evil, that it’s like I’m channeling that essence into my writing.
    .-= Jenny Beans´s last blog ..My Thoughts About Selling Short Fiction… =-.

    • Mary  says:

      I admit, I have been hooked on the dark ambient for some time now and have been neglecting my industrial roots. I’ll have to get back to the more blisteringly dark side. I enjoy Cradle of Filth, too!

  • Barry Napier  says:

    Northaunt!!!!
    .-= Barry Napier´s last blog ..a room full of soap boxes =-.

    • Mary  says:

      You approve? That’s good news! 😛 Which tracks/albums are your favourites?

  • Heidi Ellis  says:

    Most of my writing has tailored playlists. Lately it’s been a lot of Recoil, Godsmack, Abney Park, Depeche Mode and Three Days Grace in the mix. Dark, abrasive stuff to fit the kind of brutal writing I’ve been doing. But there’s always some Nox Arcana or Loreena McKennitt in there to temper the harsh with some ethereal.

    It helps that my i-tunes at work has 48GB worth of tuneage to select from.

    I have to have a soundtrack for the movie in my head. Makes the words come easier.

    • Mary  says:

      Totally, the music filters out the ‘everyday’ noise and allows the brain to conjure up the images better. In my opinion, at least 🙂 And wow! I haven’t listened to Recoil for a while. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Katey  says:

    I used to listen to trance a lot, but not so much else that would qualify– but you’re introducing me to new stuff all the time. Amazing how it helps to tap into that place, but that’s what good music does. Gets your brain there. I’m totally fascinated by that aspect of it, and have eaten up a bunch of recent books on the subject.

    Unfortunately I keep listening to music that channels a particularly loud, old, easy-and-fun-to-write character for me. Who is not at all involved in my current project.

    I should stop before I do something irresponsible. But I won’t.
    .-= Katey´s last blog ..WIP Chugs Along Happily =-.

    • Mary  says:

      Meh, why be responsible? That’s what makes writing fun! I am a big believer in irresponsible snacking as well 🙂

      There’s definitely something more to it than just liking the music. I’d love to hear more about the books you’ve read on the subject. We, two, are definitely research geeks!

      • Katey  says:

        Yes, research!

        I read a few things on this subject for a particular project of mine. I started with Daniel J. Levitin’s (cool, but sometimes overblown and annoying) “This is Your Brain on Music” and a relatively easy-read book by Jonah Lehrer called “Proust Was a Neuroscientist” (which covers art, literature, music, etc with varying degrees of success. The bit on impressionism is particularly apt– and the only one I was qualified to judge without help! The music bit on Stravinsky was fascinating, though. Explained a lot). Oliver Sacks does some awesome stuff (though there are those who say he treats his subjects as less than human by writing about them, so it might be something to be wary of), and “Nova” on PBS did a show based on his stuff that was fascinating. Plus they had a series called “The Music Instinct” that was amazing.

        But I’m really interested in music theory and the way musicians throughout the ages have messed with our heads by manipulating it. Because oh, they do.

        … probably more info than you wanted, but it’s so much fun!
        .-= Katey´s last blog ..WIP Chugs Along Happily =-.

        • Mary  says:

          Sounds interesting! Cool! I’ll have to check out that PBS show. Love PBS 🙂 I used to be hooked on History Detectives (I wonder if there are any news ones. Hmm…)

          So, do you see any way to apply that to writing, or do you think it is something only music can tap into?

          Neato! Great discussion!

        • Katey  says:

          Yeah, history detectives rocks.

          I think it can be applied to fiction– I think people like James Joyce are the best example of that. The idea with music is that our reaction is all about expectation. When something subverts our expectation it excites our brain, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a way we dislike. (Part of why we tend to like less and less new styles of music as we get older: we’re less and less likely to want to learn how to listen to something new.) I think literature is perfectly capable of that.

          *I* may not be. But lit is!
          .-= Katey´s last blog ..Disorder =-.

  • Nicole  says:

    My playlist depends on what kind of story or article that I’m working on. I, too, tend to listen to more upbeat music when writing articles. It’s usually stuff I can dance in my chair too. As for the darker side, Rammstein is a big one, specifically “Du Hast.”
    .-= Nicole´s last blog .."The Lapsing Years" =-.

    • Mary  says:

      I like Rammstein a lot, and they aren’t too distracting (but I might see things differently if I spoke German). Laibach are great too!

  • R. Van Saint  says:

    I’ve started listening to film scores more. Also the Dr. Who soundtrack provides a nice background. It just depends on what I’m writing and the mood I’m trying to convey. The thing is I’m too lazy to discover any new bands that may complement what I write/draw so I’m stuck with the same old rotation I’m afraid.
    .-= R. Van Saint´s last blog ..How to make a monster: the secret formula for my fiction revealed =-.

    • Mary  says:

      One of my favourite film scores is from The Fountain. LOVE it!

  • Acadia  says:

    I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I am supposed to be paying attention cause it is too distracting.

    • Mary  says:

      I am generally the same way when I write fiction, though like I said above, music in other languages doesn’t distract me so I indulge there.

  • Morgan Elektra  says:

    I rarely listen to music when writing. I know it’s contrary to most writers but a lot of the time I will have the TV for background noise. I find it restful (when I was little, I had to have the TV on to take a nap). But when I do listen to music, it seems to always be either Tori Amos or Coheed & Cambria. Don’t know why… I think it has something to do with knowing the lyrics so well that I can just let it fade into the background. It does help me get into the zone then.

    • Mary  says:

      Actually, I only listen to music while writing. When I’m editing (I know, it’s still writing, but I tap into a different part of my brain) I tend to do that without any music. Helps me process the words better (whereas the music while writing allows me to go into that dreamlike state).

  • James Melzer  says:

    You know, I used t be big into listening to music early in my writing career. I never had a playlist though, I would just flip through songs that got me moving. Lately though, I’ve been writing in silence, which is actually a nice change of pace. Maybe I’m just getting too old for your fancy jungle music 😛

    • Mary  says:

      What’s that, Sonny? Let me get my trusty ear trumpet! Haha!

      I totally figured you be all up in the death metal while you write, James!

  • Edward G. Talbot  says:

    I just let my itunes go where it wants to go. My playlist is heavy in classic rock, but it’s also got a variety of other stuff, including some classic stuff and even some bamboo flute meditation music.

    I don’t know how important it is to me to have music when I write – I can write fine in silence too. But it is important to me to have music a lot of the rest of the time.

    • Mary  says:

      I think I get too distracted when there is no music at all (except for editing – then I need the quiet). Even if it’s on low, I need that buffer to take away the sound of the highway, the train, etc.

  • Drew Beatty  says:

    I am also a big fan of the Chemical Brothers when writing, I find the beats keep my energy up and my writing flows better. I get into the zone with them, Fatboy Slim and others like that.

    When I am writing more introspective scenes, I love the Hold Steady. Great music to write characters to. Well, seedy lowlife druggie scammer characters, at least.

    Great post!

  • Veronica  says:

    I’ve found that tailored playlists for projects work well, but there are other times when simply taking the laptop outside to the sunshine provides similar inspiration. Truly, I think it’s anything that helps you to concentrate on what you need to do.

    …says the person who is replying to your post as she bops along to Rebel Yell.

  • vange  says:

    I like wearing socks….
    .-= vange´s last blog ..Friday ’90s – Joan Osborne – One of Us =-.

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