Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Music to write by

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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.


Music hath powers –

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