1. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Musical inspiration to set the mood

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Mike Kobernus, Jun 28, 2014.

    The recent post that mentioned writing and music has prompted me to post this.

    I recently completed a short story where I used background music to control my mood, and hence the story's mood.

    I played, again and again and again, the same piece.

    It was Fjara, by Sólstafir, and Icelandic psychedelic metal band. I highly recommend checking out their video here:


    Has anyone else done something like this?

    I am so pleased with the final outcome that I would not hesitate to recommend the experiment.
     
  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hohhhh boy. You asked the right person.

    I have been doing this, but the truth is, the choice of music was not at all deliberate. I was away from home and I had a limited selection of music available on my phone. There was a particular album that I had once listened to, and I kind of liked it but it had not grown on me. So I decided to give it another shot. When I was listening to it, I suddenly came up with an idea for how I could pull off a certain type of story that I had been (passionately) wanting to accomplish, but I had not figured out how I could make it work. I was ecstatic, and amazing ideas suddenly started flooding into my mind. I kind of forgot about the music.

    But over the next few days, as my mind settled down, I started getting some of the songs stuck in my head, so I played the album again, and discovered that I loved it. Whether I truly love it for what it is, or just because I associate it with the excitement of coming up with that idea, I will never know. But regardless, it is now one of my favorite albums, and listening to it never fails to put me in the right mood to work on that story.

    The album is Sticky Fingers. There are five songs in particular:

    Brown Sugar: helps me prioritize plot ideas according to how they influence character development and the reader's emotional response
    Sway: gets my blood pumping in excitement at the prospect of the book being successful
    Sister Morphine: helps me focus on the more morbid aspects of the plot, specifically by bringing me past the surface emotional impact to consider whether the logic of the plot actually makes sense
    Dead Flowers: helps me internalize the character development that the protagonist undergoes later in the story; helps me repeatedly redefine various nuances of the character development in order to bring the story and closer to perfection
    Moonlight Mile: puts me in the mood to sleep under the stars on a warm summer night (the character is homeless for a good part of the story)

    Funny thing is, I have tried using other music to set the mood deliberately. For example, I listened to The Four Seasons in the order of winter → spring → summer →autumn (since that is the timeframe of the story). It did not do much of anything for me.

    I consider Will the Circle Be Unbroken to be the theme song of the story:



    and it does help me quite a bit; specifically, it puts me in the mood that I want the reader to feel during the last chapter.

    No Expectations puts me in the exact mood that I want to evoke with a particular goodbye scene toward the middle of the story, and it helps me visualize very clearly the train station where it takes place. Love In Vain works very similarly.

    There is an important but difficult-to-pull-off plot thread about two characters who talk each other out of suicide at different points. For You, a song from a man to a woman he loves who has attempted suicide, has helped me to think through this plot thread and make it more viable.
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I've also used music to control the mood or just get me into the correct mindset while writing. I also find voiceless music can make an excellent white noise effect where it helps you to fiocus on what's in front of you (Your story) and stop thinking about every little distracting out there.

    Lynn Flewling thanks Apocalyptica for her.. 4th book of the Nightrunner series, I believe. I personally also used to listen to apocalyptica as well while writing (Earlier stuff, before they added vocals)

    For my current novel, the Ys Reprimer album sets the mood for a lot of my favorite scenes especially the ones including the hidden village of witches or the desperate and forebodding mood set by the protagnosists encounter with a soon to die woman.

    I also use Lord of Cinders theme from Dark Souls, which was the original inspiration for the story of a desolate world that had once been great but fallen to ruin due to a cataclysm.

    A lot of the songs are rather nostalgic, lfilled with sadness but moments of joy and desolation. Really brings that atmosphere I need for certain characters and scenes.

    My current story for the Xchyler project is heavily influenced by Nightwish's Imaginarium album and Poets of the Fall.
     
  4. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Wow. Looks like we have a thing going here.

    We should start a movement....

    Writers and Rock! The 2 Rs....
     
  5. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    It would be cool if we can get a collection of these musically inspired pieces together, and have the music in the background while doing a reading...Sorta like an audiobook and musical performance combined.
     
  6. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do exactly that - I'll loop music for like three hours. In my case I'm writing a near future (2034) so I'm actually doing "research" listening to a lot of top-40/teen music from 2013-2014 that my characters listened to as young people...which in my case actually is part research. I know and like some of it but my wheelhouse is a little more country/rock/blues than hip hop/pop. It's really weird approaching the modern era for "period research" :p

    I was really pleased with my first outcome as well - which came from (of all things) looping Taylor Swift's "22"...which is a really pure-pop party song from a modern perspective. But in my case it actually was from the perspective of an alcoholic woman in her late 30s having an emotional breakdown and realizing that she'd lost her youthful idealism - after which she decides to make some major life changes and dry out. More emotion than I ever thought I would ever get out of that particular song.

    Not sure anyone particularly wants to hear this song but worthwhile thought experiment even if you don't like it...tune out the video and then try to think about what Swift's legions of fangirls are going to hear when they listen to this in 20 years when they're more cynical and world-wise. The meaning changes markedly.

     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2014

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