Yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!

I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately.  For the first time in years, I’m listening to the radio in the car rather than the CDs (yes, I know) I have burned.  It’s for a few reasons.  One: the CDs I have burned all pre-date, like, 2015, and I’m just not interested in many of those albums anymore.  Two: a lot of the songs I play in yoga class can be found on stations like Kiss 108.  (I know, I’m sorry!)  I’ve got three stations that I usually switch between on the ride home from work–Amp 103.3 is the most common because that gridlock jam is out of control awesome, Mix 104.1 is nice for if I want to occasionally hear the Spin Doctors, and Kiss 108 is mostly a last resort.  It’s my pre-yoga or post-work space.  I like to just let loose, sing loud, and boogie.

Writing music cannot be found on the radio.  That’s–not entirely true, actually.  Most of it can’t.  It depends on the character.

It’s odd, sometimes, how big of a personality our characters take on.  Yes, I create Pinterest boards for these novels, and yes, I think about them even when I’m not writing, but their own music style?  Sometimes, I really do think I’m going insane.  But, if you asked me right now, what the most recently played song on any of the Pen boys’s phones might be, I could absolutely tell you.

Oliver: Setting Out by Citizen of the World
James: Cry by The Used or Help by Papa Roach
Harrison: I Feel it Coming by The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk
Jensen: Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists or Water Under the Bridge by Adele
Jasper: The Bliss by Volbeat or, honestly, Praying by Kesha

And they all make sense to me.  Oliver is a sad, lonely boy.  He is desperately in need of help, in any shape or form that comes in.  James is too busy raging against the machine to notice that he’s falling apart.  Harrison wears bright colors on the weekends because he needs to express himself, guys.  Jensen gets decent grades, has several different friend groups, and can adapt to any situation.  Jasper is weird.  That’s it, really.  He’s just a strange creature.

This extends beyond them, too.  I have whole playlists drafted up for Oliver, James, and Harrison, but also for Mason, Lukas, and Miriam.  I have a playlist specifically for Rónán’s birthday festival full of wild Irish and Scottish music.  Comet novel really only has the Cloud Atlas soundtrack and several songs by Sleeping At Last, but it’s still there.  I even recently created a playlist for a fanfiction I was writing.

Music is a powerful, wonderful thing.  It’s the driving force behind a lot of what I do.  I found really two amazing posts on Tumblr recently: this one is for ambient sounds and this one is for different classical pieces.  And yes, wow, thank you so much.  (For anyone looking for more writerly things, my reference tag on Tumblr has not only music, but sometimes what different wounds will do to people, how to stay motivated, and Shakespearean insults.)  However, I’m over here listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack (ha, and you thought that title meant nothing), and I thought it would be neat to provide a list of the soundtracks that I listen to most.  Soundtracks are proven to be excellent companions for writing, and I’ve compiled a list of ones that I really, really love for specific things.  For almost every single novel, even if I have specific songs or whole playlists, I’ll ultimately revert back to soundtracks when I need to dig in and get writing.  So, keeping with this blog’s new idea of providing a space for the writer’s chaotic mind, here are a list of soundtracks and what they’re good for.

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Specifically Curse of the Black Pearl, but At World’s End is also fantastic; and really, for literally anything.  They’re particularly good for intense scenes, usually physical ones, but I’ll listen to it if I just need inspiration or to motivate myself to write.
  2. Wonder Woman
    • YO, THIS SOUNDTRACK.  Particularly the first song.  It really is amazing.  It has a lot of great drums, and is really just quite powerful.  Again, another that’s great for intense scenes, but also to amp yourself up for a long writing session.
  3. Cloud Atlas
    • The thing about this soundtrack is that some of it is really good, and some of it is just okay, which bums me out.  However, the first few songs and the last half are lovely, and I like to listen to them just as something to put on.  Like the story itself, they’re easy to get lost in, and they provide a musical background that isn’t too showy or too soft.
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
    • Okay, I debated about whether or not to include this because while it is an excellent soundtrack, it does weird things to my writing.  I usually only listen to it if I need to be angry, but sometimes I go in trying to be angry, and come out writing something really sad, and if that’s not the epitome of Mad Max, then.  Well.  Here we are.
  5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    • And not HP.  I know, crazy.  HP invokes a very particular feeling in my little heart, though, and Fantastic Beasts does not.  It doesn’t have those telltale notes (it does, but you really have to listen for it), and the music itself is gorgeous.  There are a few songs specifically for sad parts, but it’s another great in the background one.
  6. X-Men: First Class
    • Every song is golden.  But it will make you write like a maniac, so you’ve been warned.  They sound very inspiring, so good for speeches delivered by leaders.
  7. The Martian
    • It’s so subtle and beautiful.  I love listening to this when I’m writing filler or traveling scenes.
  8. How to Train your Dragon
    • I can’t recommend the second one only because I haven’t listened to it a lot, and the types of times for when you should listen to this are below.
  9. Lord of the Rings
    • Oh boy.  This is almost exclusively reserved for Rónán, and thus, high fantasy.  There’s a reason for it.  HTTYD is the same.  I’d like to say that this can apply elsewhere, but it really can’t, and that might be my fault, the way my brain’s connected it solely to swords and dragons and adventure, but it does feel like music that doesn’t belong in the real world.  However, I am also going to break down the three different LOTRs, too.
      • Fellowship of the Ring is great for beginnings.  I know that sounds cliche, but it really is.  Mostly the Hobbiton music, and some of the entering Rivendell ones.
      • Two Towers is my favorite, first of all, and is great for battles, power struggles, big moments between kings and their subjects, and just things that make you grin stupidly in excitement.
      • Return of the King is also good for endings.  I’m telling you, these soundtracks are marvelously constructed.  And I don’t just mean your last chapter because we all know that authors start the end of their books about 100 pages before it actually ends.
  10. Iron Man 3
    • This is the only Marvel soundtrack you’re going to see on here, and for good reason.  The first Amazing Spiderman has a good soundtrack, but it sounds so heavily Peter Parker that I’m not including it.  The third Iron Man, however, has some really great intense, loud music, particularly if you’re in the middle of a street race or making bad decisions.
  11. Maleficent
    • Also amazing, and great for writing scenes with magic.  I used it a lot when I was writing Mason (faery), but specifically during the Samhain (Halloween) festival.  It’s great for the mystery surrounding magic.
  12. Man of Steel
    • Sad, sad, sad.  This soundtrack is very slow and subtle like The Martian, but also has a very deep, sorrowful element that works really nicely for making your readers cry.
  13. Never Let Me Go
    • Another great sad one.  It has more strings, and a certain heaviness to it that makes you feel a bit like you’re drowning.
  14. Tron: Legacy
    • I shouldn’t put this on here, but I am.  I’m in love with this for other reasons, but I do think it’s great for scifi and if you’re character is sparring/running.  Hey, at least I’m not putting Transformers on.
  15. Pacific Rim
  16. Into the Trees by Zoe Keating
    • Not a soundtrack, but almost entirely cello.  Great for spooky scenes, or ones that take place in nature at those weird times–dawn/dusk/starless nights/full moons–okay, so just spooky.

And that’s it for now.  While writing this (translation: procrastinating writing this chapter), I’ve finished Curse of the Black Pearl and have At World’s End on, so we’ll see what happens next.  If you have any recommendations of soundtracks you really love, let me know!  I’m always down to find new things to listen to.

Happy writing!

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