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Ann Wesley Hardin

Hi Billy!

My all time favorite movie opener/mood setter is Jingle Bell Rock at the start of Lethal Weapon. I don't really know why (maybe some romcommers can help analyze it for me) but I suspect it's the contrast of little kid hopes and dreams at Christmas and the war-ravaged mind of Mel Gibson's character. It's also a hint, I think, of how he'll get some of those dreams back by the end of the movie.

I generally like total silence when I write because my head is so chaotic, but lately I've wanted to listen to chants because they immediately transport me to the vast, peaceful, majestic chambers of a European cathedral. A very inspiring place to be!

Ryan Stauffer

My favorite music to write to varies according to the tone of the work-in-progress, but the most common album to hear is probably either *Extraordinary Machine* by Fiona Apple or *Films for Radio* by Over the Rhine.

Best use of music in a movie? Just off the top of my head, "The Lonely Shepherd," by Gheorghe Zamfir, on Kill Bill 1, during the sword-making scene.


Not exactly on point, but when I was in college and had to get a paper done, I'd put on "Get Happy" by Elvis Costello. Worked like a charm.


I'm one of those who likes to write to movie scores... some faves are Michael Nyman's score for "The Piano", Morricone's score for "Cinema Paradiso", and pretty much anything by Thomas Newman. Oh, and the orchestral Bear McCreary music for "Battlestar Galactica" is mindblowing!

Existing music used in a movie? I'm still a sucker for the kitchen scene in "The Big Chill"-- dancing to "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". Bridget Jones singing "All By Myself". Hmm, I'm probably going to obsess about this all day...


God this always fascinates me because I am so "old school" as I've been told in that listening to records is an activity that by and large for me is complete in and of itself. It requires my full attention, good music anyway, and I just can't do much of anything while I'm listening to music.
One soundtrack that made me go buy an Iron and Wine record was that documentary... oh hell, what was it called, by the young guy, about him and his mom, crap. Somebody help me - it was a really good movie!


Starts with an I!


Sorry, can't help you, I write in silence. Music doesn't distract me, but when I'm ready to write, I'm so eager to get to the page that I almost always forget to cue anything up.

I loved the music and how it was used in a little seen Holly Hunter movie called "Once Around". Prior to that movie I hadn't given much (ok, any) thought to Frank Sinatra and those of his ilk, but I absolutely fell in love with the soundtrack and adore "Fly to me to the moon."


Well, since what I write is music, the only sounds I listen to when I'm writing are the voices in my head (and they're always there, yikes). When I'm arranging, I'm listening for certain relationships, so I'll check out Bach for counterpoint, Beethoven and Barber for string lines.
I used to like KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See", but it's everywhere, from "The Devil Wears Prada", to "Ugly Betty", whenever a female dancer gets voted off "So You Think You Can Dance"; I even heard it on "Six Degrees" last week. My favorite use of an existing song in a scene? When Princess Fiona is unhappily getting ready for her wedding in "Shrek", Jeff Buckley singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Of course.


I make a soundtrack before I start writing. Desperately look for new songs that work for me. Procrastination? Maybe. Inspiration? Definitely. I usually look for things that evoke the mood, or I just put on songs that are haunting me. Weird thing?: much later I usually find the lyrics apply too. Am I taking plotpoints from the lyrics or am I subconsciously responding to the songs because the lyrics (which I don't notice at first) apply? Could think about it if my brain wasn't consumed with my characters.

Best melancholy/desperate/intense lyric-free music: "Outside looking in" from Carrington Soundtrack by Michael Nyman (that man is pure genius)

Emotionally evocative: Henryk Gorecki Symphony No. 3

For those of you that can do lyrics: Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" & Death Cab for Cutie's "Marching Bands of Manhattan" are what's doing it for me right now.


I'm a huge fan of The Mission soundtrack. That was my study music, and now it's my concentration music.

I'm not a writer. That's all I can offer.


Ann: I actually find I tend to write first drafts in silence... and rewrite with music. But given that every project goes through at least 4 drafts on the average, I guess I'm listening to music while I write 3/4s of the time. Chants sounds good...

Hey Ryan: I'll look into Over the Rhine (I'm already an Apple Fan)...

Jamy, I'm not surprised, that's one of my favorite Costello albums -- very aptly named...

Jennica: Long been a "Piano" fan, and that Bridget Jones number really is wonderful; I'll look into McCreary...

Betsy: was it that one about the thing where the guy had that other stuff going on during the, y'know...? Seriously, tho, I'm only familiar with Iron & Wine's soundtrack work for "In Good Company" and "Garden State"...

Writergurl: Holly Hunter is almost anything? Great. Frank singing "Moon"? Priceless...

Binnie: Re: KT, I hate it when that happens. Buckley singing Cohen -- classic...

Welcome, tc: Love the Gorecki and I'm a fan of both bands. Looking forward to hearing "Carrington." Interesting rumination on subconscious lyric response...

Brooke: The Mission! I heart Morricone...


Funnily enough, a lot of the music that I listen to while I'm writing is in your sidebar. Starbucks generally has good writing music, though the cafe down the block has better coffee. The Decemberists also manage to get those creative juices flowing.

Espresso and Ruth Etting: drug of choice.


Binnie, that song was used this past week on Numb3rs. Couldn't get Fiona out of my head.


The sound track for "Spy Game" is great for writing thrillers - I listened to it while writing one of my specs.

Also I LOVE Loreena McKennit for her haunting atmospheric music, which was perfect for my period piece set in 16th Century Italy - I wrote a whole scene sequence inspired by her song "Dark Night of the Soul"


I also really like Scott Joplin.

Basically listening to music that seems to "go with" the characters/story that I'm writing about (e.g.-if its a drama "dramatic" music, if its comedic something lighthearted, happy, and silly)... Music inspires me and stimulates the creative flow. - I think its because music accesses our brain on a nonverbal sensual manner - and I think that figuratively "flips on the creative switch" so to speak.


First of all, I love the pix of the dog with the headphones.

I read this earlier today, but I had to think about it.

Townes Van Zandt: The Nashville Sessions.

Jackson Browne: basically, anything.

Bellwether: Home Late.

Young singer/songwriter named Kiernan Mcgee: Anonymous.

The Old 97's: Too Far to Care.
Marah: Live bootlegs.

I could go on and on, but I won't. I can write without music, but nothing kickstarts writing like great music.


Chalk up another silent screenwriter although I've never once tried playing music while I write.




You may be interested in looking at "Last Train to Freo", an Aussie film converted from a stage play that's set almost entirely in a single train carriage. They use classical music throughout, the conceit being that the train company is doing an experiment to see whether it calms passengers. The film-makers mentioned that this was actually tried for a few months, and didn't work for the company in real life; but it gave them a nice, continuous and conveniently copyright-free soundtrack. :)

(The movie is a thriller, rather than RomCom, and I think that the music is occasionally too intrusive; but I think it's worth a watch.)


I think the doc Betsy's referring to is Tarnation?

Very haunting movie, in which music plays a huge part.

E.C. Henry

Billy, I've burned lots of CD soundtracks for comedy and rom/com specs I've penned. Don't listen to 'em when I'm writing. I listen to them when I'm not writing. (If used properly) Music can really capture the essence of a momment or a character. THAT is huge when you're refining your vision. As a writer custom soundtrack music helps me hone the story I'm working on.

Best uses of existing songs in the movies.

1. "Ants in my Pants" by James Brown used in "The 40 Year Old Virgin". Comedic use when Andy has just said, "sex is the last thing on my mind," then dude is bumping into hotties on the street and running from a provocative billboard on a moving buss. BRILIANT!

2. "Who do you Love" by George Thoughgood as the character intro song for Benjamin Berry's chaaracter in "How to Loose a Guy in 10 days." Sets up Benjamin Berry as a tough guy and bridges it romantically. NOT the best song depiction of his character, but ca'mon it's Throughgood, man. Yeah, George can do more than provide music for Arnie's Terminator character.

3. "Heat of the Momment" by Asia used in "The 40 Year Old Version." The lyric's re-inforce Andy's true love for Trish, AND work in the "heat of the momment" as he follows his heart and goes after the girl he loves. And I love how the song is suddenly cut-off when Andy goes through the "Eruption" billboard.

4. "Head Over Heels" by the Go-go's used in "13 Going on 30." The fast pace of this song bridges beautifully to the fast paced life of New York that Jenna Rinks is subjected to in her 30's. And it's got a girle edge to it.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


Janet: Just getting into the Decemberists (loving "The Crane Wife") and sure, Ruth Etting (though cognac somehow seems to go better with torch songs to me); my latest fun find is the group Grizzly Bear -- check out the new "Yellow House" CD...

Hi MaryAn! Happy Blogoversary!

Susan: "Flips the switch" sounds so right... Scott Joplin has the kind of propulsion that's close to Bach (played Josh Rifklin's Nonesuch recordings to death)...

Trish, thank you for new things to check out; I don't know Kiernan McGee... (Been into Townes from waaaaay back but I can't quite use him as "background" -- I always end up listening to the lyrics...)

Unk, as I said in my first comment, I write first drafts in silence; music is for rewrites (and since writing is rewriting...) But you might try it sometime just to um, see what happen...

Welcome Svend: This "Freo" film sounds mighty interesting, and I'll look for it.

Your comment reminds me of the strangest/wonderful wall-to-wall musical experiment I've encountered in the past few years (non-film-related), this site where Beethoven's 9th has been slowed down to 24 hours of music; might drive one mad but parts are intensely gorgeous:

Thanks Jennica that sounds right; I remember the Stephen Merritt tracks but he used so much stuff that Iron could definitely be in there, so HEY BETSY! Didn't mean to be glib about not answering you, when I can't think of a title like that it drives me INSANE...

EC: Nice rom-com examples. And I've listened to mix tapes like that to keep me "in the project" when I'm not actually writing -- good way to go...


What a great post. What great comments. I'm inspired to fix my CD player! And yes, yes, Steve Reich and Bach.


i love steve reich... predates
philip glass... used to listen
his tape delay loops.... they are amazing and hypnotic...
and that is what you are lookin for!

well i am a photographer... but i do spend hours in my office editing photographs and doing photoshop... or at least i am supposed to...

i am the prerequisite... wish i could be a writer... if god was kind i would be... but as we all know... now that we are no longer 14, god is not kind... the universe may be, but not god...

so music for writing...
what you are really talking about is "Transportation". I understand..
priming the pump. of the subconcious... music to open doorways with

here goes, with my sure fire suggestions for all you word of you better freakin thank me when you are standing there on oscar night!

(in no order at all)

Strange Cargo... William Orbit

Jesus and The Mary Chain...Stoned and Dethroned..

Dylan... only the cd with brownsville girl on it... this must be played over and over and over again... it will induce a productive creative state. Maybe Empire Burlesque as well.

The current Steely Dan... Everything Must Go.

Smashing Pumpkins... Adore

High Heels Soundtrack... ryuichi sakamoto

Soul to Soul II, Keep on Movin

Beethoven's Violin Concerto..Eat A Peach

Penguin Cafe Orchestra.. When In Rome

Fatboy Slim... You've Come Along Way Baby

Jan Gharbarek from the late 70's
on ECM records

Massive Attack

Sly and Robbie.... Friends

and finally (if ya cant get goin on this.... take up photography)

Kruder and Dorfmeister...The K&D Sessions.


that should read..

The Allman Brothers... Eat A Peach


My music depends on what I'm writing. The silly college comedy we wrote involved a lot of the first scissor sisters album. The Shins were used heavily for the more introspective stuff (Brrrraaaafffffff!!!!!)

For the crazier stuff, Underworld will always do the trick.

And of course, film scores are my bread and butter. Currently, Memento, Solaris, Traffic, and anything by Thomas Newman.

As far as best uses of music lately?

Tie: "A Quick One While He's Away" by the Who in Rushmore

And "Free Bird" at the end of Devil's Rejects.

Worst use? Anytime Bad to the Bone or Spirit in the Sky is used since Terminator 2.

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