Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Music to write by

by | January 13, 2013 | 12 comments

KG coverjpg

Often times while writing I like to have music on in the background.  I found the music needs to be instrumental.  If there are words, I find that I’m actually listening to the music, and not using it a background.

Music, like the sense of smell brings memories or feelings associated with the music.  So it’s a big help to use music that fits what you happen to be writing.  Since I write historical romance, I tend to use music that reflects this.

I discovered this when I wrote my first novel, Kentucky Green, set in the Kentucky frontier in 1794.  While writing this story, I listened to the movie sound track to The Last of the Mohicans. Not only did the music fit the story, but if I was writing a love scene, there was a romantic track.  Tracks for the action/adventure part of my story.

So when I started to write Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold, I looked for music to write by for this story set in Durango, CO in 1880s. I found a BCColoradoSilverFinal2a great CD by Peter Elman in titled Durango Saloon.  A natural since my hero grew up in a saloon, and lives in the saloon in Durango for part of the story.  Several scenes also take part in the saloon (wish I could add some of the music to this).

I also used the movie sound track from Silverado, partly because of the name, and the ‘western’ style and because I really like the movie.  I think there’s a little bit of Emmett (Scott Glenn) in my hero, Wes Westmoreland.

The CD Cowboy Celtic by David Wilkie is included because it has songs that were being sung and played in the time frame of the book.  Songs such as Shenandoah, Annie Laurie and Gary Owen (the last General Custer’s favorite).

As writing a romance also means love scenes, I have a collection of ‘love scene’ music.  One CD has classical music such as Tchaikovsky’s Andante from The Sleeping Beauty, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (“Elvira Madigan) and Ravel’s Bolero.  Not that you might recognize any of these by their names, but if you heard them, you’d recognize the music (classical music has no copyright, so it gets used for free all the time).

Part of the fun of writing a new story is being on the lookout for new music.   What music do you use when you write?


  1. Kathy aka C. K. Crouch

    I wrote a historical western and played Restless Heart over and over. Something in the music even with lyrics inspired my writing. I discovered a couple of songs by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra during the holidays that were great for action scenes. One is entitled A Mad Russian’s Christmas and the other is Wizards in Winter. They also do a great thing with other songs. I only knew about their Christmas Eve/Sarajevo before but this year I discovered other songs. I also found a video on YouTube that was an entire story rolled into their music. I liek music rocking the house when I’m working around the house so it would make sense to enjoy it while writing.

  2. Lisa Kessler

    Great blog!

    I use music when I write too, Terry! 🙂

    The mood of the music definitely carries me to the right creative place for the book I’m working on… I use it when I go back for edits too…

    Lisa 🙂

  3. Paula Millhouse

    Great post, Terry – I love the cover for Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold. Borough’s covers ROCK!

    I love to write to instrumentals, and like you, I can’t concentrate with lyrics in the background.

    Here’s a few from my list: Last of the Mohicans, Pirates of the Caribbean, How to Train Your Dragon, New Moon, and Peter Pan. Howard Shore, who composed for the Twilight Saga works for me.

    Paula Millhouse

  4. Blythe Gifford

    I develop a soundtrack for every book, with authentic music, when possible. Although I don’t generally use music with words, for The Brunson Clan trilogy, I had Scottish Reiver ballads and they really helped infuse my ear with the right Scottish lilt, I think.

  5. Ally Broadfield

    Great topic, Terry. I sometimes listen to instrumental music while I write. The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic albums are both favorites, as are Mozart’s Symphony Nos. 40 & 41. I usually listen to the radio in the car while driving around my three kids, and I’ll have one song with lyrics that I associate with each book that helps inspire me when I’m not writing.

  6. Catherine Moore

    I’m new to this writing thing but I’ve always been inspired by music. I can really see how listening to the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack would have helped to set your mood for writing Kentucky Green. Personally, I listen to both words and music. I find the lyrics help me get into a story, too. Someone singing about regrets, lost love,longing, etc. helps me get in the right head-space to write about those things in whatever I’m working on. From Springsteen to U2 to Goo Goo Dolls to The Script to Keith Urban to Dire Straits – I’ve got eclectic taste but a good romantic lyric, no matter the genre, is music to my ears and has become motivation to my keyboard.

  7. Terry Irene Blain

    Kathy, I’ll have to checkout the Trans-Siberian orchestra – I’ve always loved that name, so guess its time to check out their music.

  8. Terry Irene Blain

    Hi Lisa,
    do you have any good music to learn Twitter by? I need another class.

  9. Terry Irene Blain

    Paula, Thanks for the comments. The heroine on CSCG reallly looks like I ‘saw’ her in my mind. Always a plus for the author, but I know each reader will see the characters from their own perspective.

  10. Terry Irene Blain

    one of the secondary characters in KG is an from Scotland, so I did listen to traditional Scottish folk songs, and as you said, it really gave me a good feel for this character’s syntax and word choice. Very helpful when writing scenes where all the characters are male so I didn’t have to use tons of tags as the dialect made it easier to see who was talking.

  11. Terry Irene Blain

    Movie soundtracks are very helpful as I think we also ‘see’ the feel of the film to go along with the writing.

  12. Terry Irene Blain

    Lyrics are good for me to spark an idea of feeling, but I can’t listen to vocals when I write, only instrumentals. Like the eclectic tastes, one of my western hero’s theme came from an Ongio Bongio lyric!!



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