The Nightmare Before Christmas
Since this post is coming out on Halloween, it would be remiss of me not to put spooooooky music up for your writing pleasure. Unfortunately, despite what snippets of my stories might indicate, I'm not actually much for scary movies (the curse of an overactive imagination!)
I do however LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas. Is it a Halloween movie, is a Christmas movie - does it matter? The point is the music is great, and showcases Danny Elfman before he got too far into the "Tim Burton brand of madness".
I'm aware many people don't like music with lyrics, but there's a stack of background songs for you to choose from. Ok, you might find yourself humming the lyrics, but they definitely set the scene for a slightly spooky, slightly festive writing session. In particular I recommend the Overture and Doctor Finkleston/Into the Wood.
Happy Halloween friends!
Game of Thrones – The Night King
Yes, I know Game of Thrones finished two months ago. And yes, I know the last season was controversial.
But can we agree at least that Ramin Djawadi is a spectacular composer?
The Night King's demise might not have come in a form that any one predicted, but the music leading up to the moment was spine tingling. Go ahead, listen to it. I dare you not to imagine fleeing down darkened hallways with nightmares stalking you.
Flick over to the 7 minute mark and you'll find rising tension perfect for a defiant last stand against insurmountable odds. It's really just a great song to inspire your writing.
The Umbrella Academy – Season 1
So I think Klaus might be one of my favourite characters of all time (can we all agree that the ice cream van scene was hilarious?), but that's not why I'm currently obsessed with The Umbrella Academy soundtrack. It's dark, it's moody, it's super fierce - just the thing for writing angst filled scenes.
And may I recommend in particular the excellent first song 'Hazy Shade of Winter' by Gerard Way, feat. Ray Toro? It will have you bopping along as you imagine rain splattered fight scenes.
Ben Folds Instrumentals
Are you truly a child of the 90s if you don't love Ben Folds? I don't think it's possible.
I'm lucky enough that my work is putting on a concert with him next year so of course I booked my tickets the moment they came out. (This is not at all a plug for the magnificent Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, but seriously Ben Folds is touring all major Australian cities to play with orchestras next year so you should absolutely go)
Anyway, old Ben has seen me through a lot through the years - break ups, moving to Melbourne, bonding with new friends. But I so strongly identify with his lyrics I never thought about adding him to my writing playlist.
Then I realised there were instrumental versions of his songs out there. What a revelation! Access to the intensity of emotions I associate with his music, but without the lyrics to distract me. Army is probably my favourite, with Underground a close second. Great for your contemporary scene writing - I can just imagine characters swanning in to a coffee shop and chatting about life with these on in the background.
But seriously, he's a very talented musicians and you should be adding his songs to your writing inspiration playlists today. Enjoy!
Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No.1
I was being a classical music nerd the other day (it's part of my day job description) and this song came on that immediately made me think of video games. Specifically memories of playing Zelda, Ocarina of Time in my younger years, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I looked up the song and boy has it been used a lot, but that wasn't my answer. Why did this song make me think of my favourite games?
Turns out Gymnopédie No.1 by Erik Satie might be one of the most influential songs in video game music. It has inspired everything from Koji Kondo's opening theme for Ocarina of Time, to Kairi's theme in Kingdom Hearts, and Shoji Meguto's work in the Persona series.
It's a superbly slow and evocative piece of music, evoking feelings of sorrow, loneliness and the infinite road between a protagonist and their goal. Perfect for writing those "crying in the rain" type scenes.
Read more about Gymnopédie's influence on video game music here
Boku ni Totte
I have a confession - I am a HUGE Digimon fan. It was one of my top anime growing up, I think in part because it was the first time I'd seen characters with divorced parents in a cartoon. It's probably not surprising then, that Ishida Yamato is in my top 5 favourite cartoon characters – he was my OG childhood crush. Then in series two he's in high school and he's a moody musician? Sign me up!
I was a little bit late off the bat watching Digimon Tri because I thought they're just going to stuff this up trying to bring back a third season so long after the first two. When I finally got around to watching it at the beginning of this month though I binged the entire 26 episodes in 5 days. It was SO GOOD. I loved seeing the characters back and older again, I loved how they struggled between the pull of adulthood responsibilities and wanting to hold on to their childhood. And most of all I LOVED THIS SONG.
It's the third ending song in the series and sung by Ishida Yamato's reformed band, Knife of Day. As a Yamato fangirl, I was always going to love this song. But oooh those lyrics. That melody. It ties in so perfectly to a character that I'm writing at the moment. I've been listening to the whole album pretty much on repeat this month, but this is my stand out.
To me, you are irreplaceable
The Cursed Child
I'm not having the most amazing start to May (mostly due to a long-planned holiday collapsing in a horrible heap) so I've been casting my mind back to the last week of April when I was lucky enough to see Harry Potter and The Cursed child. I read the play when it first came out and I wasn't blown away by the story, but man did I love the actual production. What. A. Show. I definitely fell a little in love with the supremely talented William McKenna playing Scorpius - he was everything I wanted him to be.
So I've been playing the soundtrack a lot this week. Unlike most plays I see (read: musicals), the music of Cursed Child wasn't the hero, but it did such an important job of laying the atmosphere that I still love it. It makes perfect background music for writing. My absolute favourite song has to be The Staircase Ballet - it was a beautiful moment in the play, and the music captures that feeling of loss and regret of two people not being allowed to see each other. A good one to pop on when you're writing one of those angsty scenes we love.