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I was just thinking about this today. I usually happen upon one song that "sums up" the particular script I'm working on.

I tend to listen to Top 40 Pop when I'm writing...I have no idea why...but I'll occasionally build mixes for certain scenes. I've been listening to a lot of intense, dark techno for this most recent script - which is a bit difficult since that's not my favorite type of music, but it puts me in the right headspace.

I always recommend Ben Harper for a good dramatic scene. :)

E.C. Henry

For many of the specs I've penned I've actually got soundtrack music to accompany it. The current, dark, urban drama I'm working on has an EXCELENT soundtrack to it, just hope I can write up to the music I've selected...

The right song really helps me crack scenes and characters. So I'm ALWAYS on the listen out for music I can use in one of my specs.

Too bad most modern music SUCKS. I really expected more from this generation. BUT I think today's musicians are lazy; they're not working hard enough to create art that's worthy of consideration compared to that of their predesors. Britany Spears? Lada Gaga? Come-on, these Madonna wannabees who will NEVER be as good as the original was. And where's the next Journey (80s rock band refernece) going to come from?
Dude, today's generation is incapable of making music like the pros of old. You'd think over time things would get better and better, improved technology and the furhering of the medium. But today's music is getting worse and worse and worse.

When I write I CAN'T be listening to music. I've tried doing this several times and it just is too distacting. RATHER, I like to listen to music as related to my scripts when I'm on my way to work, or on my way home. The music is a bond to the writing, and as I said earlier; helps me get futher into characters and scenes.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


Creating the perfect playlist for each script I write is essential to my process. It's like Pavlov's Bell for me, creatively speaking. I choose and then repeated listen to carefully selected songs to evoke emotion and mood that immediately transport me into my story world like a drug.

However, the downside as you mentioned, is these songs become dead to me after the script is finished. I only associate them with that specific project in the future and any special meaning the song had is lost on me. That's why crafting the writing playlist is very tricky, because you don't want to put your favorite songs on it.

Also, editing my playlist is a perfect way to procrastinate so I rarely change it after I select my original songs.

As Duke Ellington said, "Music is my mistress."

Rob in L.A.

I actually can't listen to music while I'm writing intently because it's so distracting. Leaving some comment on the Internet, I'll listen to music, but not for my major writing projects. When I do listen to music while writing — to drown out other distracting noises and the like — I listen to (bah! Nicholas Kazan beat me to it) Gregorian chants, especially "Perotin" by the Hilliard Ensemble.

I also find Steve Reich's music unlistenable. It's so distracting that it's hard to concentrate on anything else. Once, a friend called me up, and he was playing Reich in the background: I couldn't pay attention to what he was saying because the music was monopolizing my attention. I asked him to turn it off during the phone call. Reich's music as something you can't ignore? I think I might have paid a composer I don't like the ultimate compliment.

Josh K-sky

I can listen to this mix over and over again.

Based on your preferences I think you will enjoy it.


JustMe: Dark techno definitely creates a specific head space. Ben Harper for drama, eh? In-teresting...

EC: Sure, listening when thinking about a draft-in-progress, or prepping for it, sounds like a fun pursuit. Whatever works!

Noah: I hear that. I used to make elaborate playlists as well and had exactly the same issue (procrastination) - recent years, I try to simplify the selection.

Rob: Pretty funny Reichian reaction. I feel that way about Philip Glass (with the sole exception of his very first solo album). In truth, I tend to write to music more for revisions, and go with silence for first drafts. But since so much of the writing process IS revision...

Josh: Thanks so much for the mix! I'm familiar with roughly half of these selections, and I look forward to getting familiar with the rest.

Terri Osburn

I can't listen while writing but I do create playlists for my WIPs. (Books, not scripts though.)

For instrumental that might keep you going, I'd try 2Cellos. One came around on my iPod this morning and I realized if I ever wanted to write a chase scene, that was the perfect song. It was their instrumental cover of Michael Jackson's Annie Are You Okay.

The Unknown Lyricist

Rock'n'roll is my music of choice. I usually play the same CD more than once at a low volume. I start out hearing it and then it just fades as I get into the zone.

Some recent stuff on the "turntable":

--REM, Life's Rich Pageant

--Van Morrison, Moondance

--Bruce Sprinsteen, Greetings

--Mike Doughty, Golden Delicious

--Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure


Thank you Terri for the 2Cellos tip.

Unknown Lyricist: That's a list of classics, and I'm happy to see the unsung auteur of Soul Coughing getting his due in your rotation.

Ailith Blesington

A smile explains a million things. Just like money, it makes the world go round. That's a jolly band picture right there! Oh, how I miss my band.

Judith Duncan

Hey Billy,
Finding the right music is imperative for me when I write. It's hard to sit down at the computer with all the 'stuff' of the day in my head. If I find the right music,it unlocks the door to another world and guides me through. Then hopefully I can bring back some of that other world into my writing. I do love youtube,because I can follow the bread crumbs to amazing discoveries,music I haven't heard before or need to be reminded of. I recently re-discovered This Mortal Coil-The Cocteau Twins version of Siren Song ,I was writng a piece of flash fiction an evocative horror and this music carried me through it. I've just left a very stressful job and have started a new screenplay a teenage zombie comedy and I'm listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela,they are fantastic for the action scenes. I'm lucky my local library has a very eclectic mix of CD's to borrow and I do make the most of it. Sometimes I also listen to Bach's Cello suites and anyone is interested in Cello music,Adam Hurst is a great Gothic/alternative cellist. A great song i'm listening to at the moment is 'Somebody I used to Know' by Gotyi


P.S. E.C,there's so much good music out there being made now,just look past the commercial stuff.


Ailith: I miss my band, too.

Judith: I'm a big fan of the cello suites, too. I'll look into Adam Hurst, as well as your teenage zombie soundtrackers - thanks for all! (And I second your p.s. to EC)

Tony Conniff

I can't write to music myself, but if you're looking for instrumental 'background' music - Eno's Music For Airports is the original and still the greatest, if you ask me...

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