The Music of Story

Once I was reading the acknowledgements at the end of a book (yes, I’m one of the weird people who actually read those), and the author had listed some songs and bands she listened to while writing the book. My first impression was, “Hey! I should go listen to those songs!” I didn’t, because back then I did not have my own computer. However, I still remember the honey-gold spread in my chest when I read that list of songs. Music is an important part of my life, and I love it when others appreciate the story and meaning and raw emotional power behind a song, rather than just a melody line. Or a chorus. Or a chord pattern. Or noise.

Years later, I saw a post about music on the Go Teen Writers Facebook Page–which is a closed group, but totally worth getting into–and, being me, I devoured it. My fellow teen writers were linking to songs on YouTube, and saying what they meant to their story. Some songs related to a character, and some to the whole story in general. Other songs just had a feel to them that inspired the author to write.

The next piece in this puzzle is The Adventures of Tintin movie. I went out to see it with some of my friends and my family, and fell in love. I had read several of the comics first, at the suggestion of one of my friends, so I had a little Tintin lore under my belt. I loved the movie. My favorite part was the opening credits.

However, the aspect of the movie I loved best was the soundtrack.

I love soundtracks.

I really love soundtracks.

The reason I love them so much is that they are the Music of Story. A soundtrack is not just a progression of different melody lines with different moods woven together at some artists whim. It is a musical accompaniment to a previously conceived, filmed, and edited story. A movie composer watches shots over and over again, writing his music to match perfectly with the story, and add richness and depth to the audience’s experience.

People have different ideas of what they like in a soundtrack, and what inspires them. Some of my favorite soundtracks are The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, How To Train Your Dragon, Speed Racer, Inception, Titan A.E., Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, War Horse, and Hugo. You can listen to all of them on YouTube. But I can give you a headstart. On YouTube.

It can be very difficult to find some soundtracks on YouTube. However, SoundtrackUniverse has a bunch of soundtrack playlists, including most of my personal favorites.

I know a lot of people also get inspiration from pop songs, like Taylor Swift. If I want vocals in my music, I usually turn to Broadway. One of my favorite songs to listen to so that I will actually write is This Is The Moment, from Jekyll and Hyde. (Listen to the Australian singer. I think his name is Anthony Warsaw. Or something like that. Amazing!)

However, my favorite show tunes are not from Broadway. I love listening to The Lord of the Rings musical, particularly Flight to the Ford, Wonder, Cat and Moon, and The Road Goes On.

Do you like to listen to music when you write? What sort of music? Is there a song that always gets you in the mood to create? Do you have a story or character that has a theme song? What is your favorite soundtrack?


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