Mood Music

I’ve been doing some heavy cut and paste editing lately, the kind you have to do in silence in order to catch all the strange little mistakes and omissions that happened when you wrote the initial draft. However, I miss listening to music while I write, so I am posting about it here [and listening to music while I do.]

I have tried a couple different ways of using music while I write including online radio stations, and creating a playlist for the whole book/project. While I have had some luck using online music platforms for the latter [including the recently reborn Grooveshark] for hearing fresh tunes without paying/illegal downloading, I have found creating mood playlists works best. It is just much less trouble finding the appropriate music when you can match what’s playing to the emotions you want to induce.

To create a good set of mood playlists I combed through my iTunes Library and sorted everything by the emotions they evoke. Here is a rundown of the five playlists I have now:

  • Angry/Aggressive– This is an easy one, and it contains mostly rock and rap, including artists like AC/DC, Eminem, Linkin Park, and Three Days Grace. I use this for fight scenes and to boost my confidence.
  • Creepy/Weird/Gritty– This list is much more of a mash up of styles. My music
    Mood Music by Katta Hules.
    Mood Music by Katta Hules.

    tastes tend towards the surreal and creepy end of the spectrum, and through my work with TUBE. Magazine I find a lot of strange songs, so it is quite the eclectic list. My list includes artists like CocoRosie, Glass Animals, Tribe Society, Nostalghia, Seether, as well as the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive. I use it to bring out the eerier side of my work.

  • Happy/Excited/Fun– Anything that makes me dance awkwardly in my chair goes on this list. I’m more concerned about effect than intent here, so while a track might make me happy, it might not be actually a happy song. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of pop and dance-y tunes on this mix as well as some things I wouldn’t readily admit to liking, much less owning.  Artists on this playlist include: Marina & the Diamonds, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Bowling for Soup, The Beatles, Fallout Boy, and, because he makes me laugh, Meatloaf.  I use this playlist to write lighter, funnier work and help jumpstart my drive to write.
  • Love/Lust/Obsession– Again a somewhat self-explanatory one: anything and everything dealing with the good and the bad of love and sex goes on this list. Some of the artists on the list are: Lana Del Ray, Sweet, Panic! At the Disco, My Chemical Romance, Foreigner, Florence + The Machine, and Arctic Monkeys. I use this to add intensity to scenes dealing with affection or need of any kind.
  • Sad/Poignant– This is for songs that give me almost want to cry for the intense emotions they evoke. Some of them may be a little sappy, but who cares as long it helps me elicit that level of emotion in my writing.  Artists on my list include: Adele, The Civil Wars, Bastille, Coldplay, HIM, Eastern Conference Champions, Mumford & Sons, and Simon & Garfunkel. Good for making your writing just that much more depressing.

Obviously, one song or artist might not fit in just one playlist, so there are a lot of crossovers on my lists and I find that works well for me. Sometimes I dwell on one album in a playlist because it gels well with the project I’m working on. For example, I listened to Glass Animals’ ZABA and the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive incessantly when I was writing my short story. For my current project I’m listening to Tribe Society’s Delirium Sonata every time I get some serious rewriting in.


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