Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Soundtracks to Scenes

There are a lot of writers who need mood music to write a particular type of scene, or a particular story in the case of a short. I'm not one of them, unfortunately, seeing as my words tend to flow better when I'm in an oddly meditative state. I could into more detail, but a lot of it has to do with my mass amounts of independent reading into Buddhist/Christian spirituality and let's be honest that's not why you're reading this.

Anyway, one of the interesting things I've discovered about my process is that when I'm plotting out a scene in my head, I can sometimes imagine it set to a particular type of music or even a particular song. Sometimes I'll hear a song and imagine a scene not necessarily related to the story itself, but indicative of the characters.

An example: A previous version of CALLARION AT NIGHT opens with a bar fight. Those of you who've read the tale of my spunky superheroine Moriah Rowani, will of course believe that she in no way, shape, or form had anything to do with starting said fight. *pauses for snickering to stop*

Anyway, in writing this bar fight I imagined the song Black Betty (the Ram Jam version, not the Spiderbait one) playing over the scene. I've always been convinced that Black Betty is an absolutely perfect fight scene song for a number of reasons -- mostly because the rhythm is just right to mesh with the martial-arts-based fighting styles my characters almost always have.

A scene I don't have in any of my stories is set to Free Ride by the Edgar Winter Group. This one involves starting up a top-end sports car and zooming away on the highway. I always envision a man and a woman and the woman asking where they're headed. The guy responds with "I don't know yet." And then there's engine revving sounds and the song kicks up.

There's a whole bunch of other songs I've set imaginary scenes to -- a car chase to Fuel by Metallica, proposal scene to the Heaven remix by DJ Sammy, etc. There's a scene in my head for practically every song I hear. Some of them are sheer ridiculousness, and have no place in my writing, but are extremely funny to imagine anyway. The song I Can Do Anything Better Than You Can is the archetypal relationship song for the romantic pairing of Moriah with her ex-fiance Nicolai. A very interesting relationship, that.

What about you? Do you imagine scenes set to music?


Davin Malasarn said...

I've always been jealous of movies because they can provide soundtracks to their scenes. I often wish books had the ability to do the same thing because I imagine these soundtracks a lot in my own life. But, when I'm writing, I worry that having imaginary music will keep me from writing something because I feel like the music will do the job for me. I worry that a reader will have a worse experience because they don't get the same music in their head. So, as much as I'd like to have it, I end up pushing all imaginary music out of my head when I write. I do like mood music though. I often write with a DVD playing. I have about four DVDs that I've seen hundreds of times, and I like to have them on in the background.

L. T. Host said...

Music will consume me if I attach it to my writing. I can't listen to music with words in it while I write, at all. Sad, really, but I am kinda strange-- has to be quiet, or no writing for me.

Joshua McCune said...

Burn it to the Ground - Nickelback... originally... now more so The Sound of Madness by Shinedown. Both songs very appropos... the first for the overall story, the second for the MC.

Rick Daley said...

Very rarely. I may throw in a line from a lyric here or there (it's in the way that you use it; two riders were approaching) but don't always envision the actual song playing for that scene.

For a movie version of FATE'S GUARDIAN, there will be a car crashing into a truck set to Boston's Foreplay, though.

Unknown said...

I don't usually imagine certain songs with scenes but I do like to make a play list somewhere in the beginning stages of a manuscript and play it over and over again while I'm doing other things to help me get the feel of a piece. Then I pull it out again (and generally update it) when I know its been too long since I've worked on that piece and need something to get me in "the mood". But not usually while I'm writing.

Stephanie Thornton said...

In my first book, yes. In my current book, no. For some reason I'm just digging silence right now.