Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Music hath powers –

by | October 13, 2010 | 8 comments

Music hath powers –

At one of our chapter meeting we had a workshop where we listened to music and wrote a paragraph or two in response to the music. This was a new experience for some of the members, but I’ve always listened to music as a background when I write. Mostly, I choose music to give me a feel of the time and period I’m writing.

The idea is to choose music that will focus you on whatever your writing. For example, the story of KENTUCKY GREEN takes place in 1794 and involves the conflict between the Indians and the American in the what was then the Ohio Territory. The hero is part Shawnee, and much of the story takes place outside, so I had a recording (which I’ve lost) of Indian flute music that also included the sound of streams and bird songs.

I also listened to the sound track of The Last of the Mohicans*, as the look and feel of the movie was the same as my story.

When I was doing research for writing COLORADO SILVER, COLORADO GOLD, I found a great CD. The story takes place in Durango, Colorado, and he hero of the story, who now works for Wells Fargo, grew up in a saloon. Several scenes take place in a saloon. The CD I found is Durango Saloon*

Of course, for writing the romantic scenes, I have recordings of love songs. If there are lyrics, I tend to listen, so all the music has to be instrumental, so it just washes over me.

My current work are westerns set in Texas. And, if you’ve read my previous blog you know I love western movies*. So I have several CDs of western movie themes*.

Now, as I said, when I’m writing I can’t listen to music with lyrics. But on the way home from work, I can listen to music that will get me in the mood. Nothing like Marty Robbins* who’s most famous song is El Paso. I’ve read that his grandfather was a Texas Ranger who told him stories when Marty was a boy. And since my heroes are Texas Rangers — you get the idea.

While writing the first of three stories, one of the song lyrics gave me an idea for the next story.

I also use several movie soundtracks as background music as I write. Gettysburg* for the epic, sweeping sounds, Quigley Down Under*, even through its set in Australia, it has that wide open spaces feeling. I like Cowboy Celtic, for the hammered dulcimer sounds.

And lest you think all I listen too is western stuff, I also used the Onigo Boingo* track of Not My Slave to represent the conflict between the hero and heroine in one of the Texas stories.

So, do you use music in your writing? How? What do you listen too?

Last of the Mohicans, soundtrack, Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman
Durango Saloon, Peter Elman
The Wild West, the Essential Western Film Music Collection
Marty Robbins, #1 Cowboy, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
Cowboy Celtic, Davie Wilkie
Gettysburg, movie soundtrack, Randy Edelman
Quigley Down Under, movie soundtrack, Basil Poledoruis
Best of Boingo, Danny Elfman


  1. Lisa Kessler

    Great Blog Terry! 🙂

    I always use music when I write… Usually it's instrumentals, movie soundtracks, and often my main characters have a "theme song" I use on the playlist.

    I've also found it helps me get back in to mood for that book when I go back later to edit it… Kind of like Pavlov's dog! I hear the music and I'm right back in the mindset of that book! 🙂


  2. beverly

    I am eventually going to try my hand at writing an historical romance based during the Civil War. For that, I will definitely listen to the soundtrack from "Gettysburg". As for writing romance now, I listen to Sara Brightman, classical music, Andrea Bocelli, moving themes from movie soundtracks, etc. I have a "romance mix" on my ipod that I listen to through top quality Bose headphones anytime I'm writing. I'm so easily distracted! And I usually write while I'm in the passenger seat and my traveling partner is driving the RV! When I need to get motivated, I listen to Brule/Airo – a Lakota Sioux musical group from the Lower Brule tribe in South Dakota. That music never fails to get me motivated, energized and raring to SUCCEED!

  3. Roni Denholtz

    I write mostly contemporaries but have written and had published one regency. I like to listen to music while I write. For the regency I mostly listened to the soundtrack (from the Broadway show) of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I know it's an earlier period than the regency but the music was the right mood for what I was writing.

  4. Marie Andreas

    I often use music and since I work in more than one sub-genre, I've found specific music really helps!

    When I need something fast paced (or just to get a slow moving me going ;)) I'll use movie trailer music; slower music would be celtic stuff, then also some movie music like Lord of the Rings. For my steampunk book I've become addicted to a steampunk group- Abney Park.

  5. Terry Blain


    I loved the Scarlet Pimpernel. Saw it with Douglas Sill, who was terrific. I do have the CD.

  6. Cynthia Owens

    Great post, Terry! Since most of my stories involve Irish heroes/heroines and/or settings, I tend to listen to a lot of instrumental Irish music – the fiddle, pennywhistle, harp, concertina, etc. But for my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, I "borrowed" my heroine's backstory from the song, "The Fields of Athenry." So music with lyrics does help sometimes!

  7. Georgie Lee

    I love the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack and I also use it sometimes when I am writing. I enjoy listening to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice soundtrack when I am working on my regencies. Portions of the 300 soundtrack are good for writing intense or dark scenes.

  8. Joyce Elson Moore

    My latest release is about a 13th century musician. I bought some of his music, and listened to it off and on, but unlike everyone else, I want quiet when I write. I majored in music, and maybe that's why, that my mind goes to the musice and pulls me from the story. It distracts me when I'm writing. I want silence, or no more than singing birds outside the window.



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