Musical muse

Many authors swear by music to sooth the savage beast that is their muse. Some folks change their tunes based on the mood or genre of the piece. Switching things from death metal to celtic ballads can mean all the difference in how they write a scene. One member told us that while she wrote one of her novels, unless she was listening to Kid Rock, the words didn’t flow at all.

Then there are those of us who can’t listen to anything that even whispers of a lyric, like myself. I can’t help myself, (it’s you and nobody else), see, just the beginning lines of a song, a hint of the chorus and that song occupies my brain. It’s impossible for me to think and write clearly when songs I know well, or even those I know a single line from, start whirling around in my brain. Thankfully I’m not alone.


I’ve posted before on the wonderful benefits I’ve received from the Women Writers, Women’s Books group on Facebook. This time the topic was, (have you guessed it?), music for writing. When I searched the conversation archives, I found many such posts. I took some time, scoured the posts and, compiled a list of the groups recommendations.

There were several endorsements for creating stations or playlists in Pandora and Spotify and just letting them run. I, personally, use Pandora, and can recommend it. My husband’s Pandora account plays advertisements (which would drive me up the wall), but mine doesn’t, not sure why, luck of the draw perhaps. Apple is also trying to get into the market but, like Spotify, I’m yet to try out their service. The only problem with this approach is that you can’t entirely control what gets played, so you may get jolted out of “the zone” by an unexpected blast of canons fire or bashing symbols, be warned.

Top Recommendations

  • Classical music, in general
  • Earlier period classical (a brief history of music can be found brief history of music)
  • Baroque (Bach,Handel and Telemann)
  • Haydn
  • Mozart (one member reported it as “hurry-up music and it affected her pace, might be good for a writing sprint)
  • Renaissance
  • Debussy rates pretty high and is a personal favourite of mine
  • Neils Bijl (beautiful classical saxophone)
  • Schubert
  • Adagios by Barber and Albinoni
  • Chopin
  • Beethoven
  • Stravinsky and Mussorgsky (for a more “punky” mood)
  • Brahms (for a spiritual mood)
  • Rimsky Korsakov (for high drama)
  • Music in a foreign language (like Kavin Kundra’s Tere Liye). Just make sure it’s a language you don’t speak.

The point of music is to inspire you and help your muse to whisper the right words into your ear. I like music that takes me away from the reality of my desk and switches of that thinking, critical part of my brain, letting the creative side flow freely.

If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Tracey Ambrose
"Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment." Ralph Waldo Emerson

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