As you know, I prefer to write with music playing. Has to be instrumental, preferably ambient or drone with the occasional classical twist. The following albums of note soundtracked my writing in 2013. All well worth seeking out if you want something to listen to while writing or reading:
The Complete Blood Meridian For Electric Drone Guitar – T.G. Olson
Available as a pay what you like download and well worth some coins and clicks. It’s a chapter by chapter soundtrack to the Cormac McCarthy novel. I’ve been writing a fair bit listening to this. Planning to read the novel while listening sometime in the new year.
The Novelist (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack to the just released game. Not played the game yet, saving it for when I have a working third draft of my own novel. Parts of draft two of my novel have been assembled along to this great soundtrack. Available free with purchases of the game.
For Now I Am Winter – Ólafur Arnalds
Always great to have a bit more Ólafur Arnalds and this year’s album was a corker. As well as providing the soundtrack for Broadchurch it features some of the most evocative and emotive ambient/classical in my growing collection. Great for writing weighty scenes to.
The Disintegration Loops – William Basinski
From Wikipedia: The Disintegration Loops is based on Basinski’s attempts to salvage earlier recordings made on magnetic tape, by transferring them into digital format; however, the tape had deteriorated to the point that, as it passed by the Tape Head, the ferrite detached from the plastic backing and fell off. Basinski has said that he finished the project the morning of the September eleventh attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and sat on the roof of his apartment building in Brooklyn with friends listening to the project as the W.T.C. towers collapsed. In 2011, Basinski corrected earlier reports where he described recording the last hour of daylight of 9/11 in N.Y.C. with a video camera focused on the smoke where the towers were from a neighbor’s roof, then set the first loop as the sound-track to that footage.
Whatever the story, the result is a deeply atmospheric slice of ambient perfect for writing more contemplative, resonant and quiet scenes.
Peripheral: Music For An Imaginary Film – Oathless
Another great name your price album, this time from the brilliant Hawk Moon records artist Oathless. As a former resident of Stoke-on-Trent, I love that the creator of this beautiful collection of recurring chords hails from the streets I once called home. A fair portion of the last half of my novel’s first draft was hammered onto the page while looping this.
Blake – Lowercase Noises
A writing music post from me would not be complete without an entry from Lowercase Noises. This mini album is the latest of three produced to celebrate the birth of Andy Othling’s children. The music of Lowercase Noises has soundtracked more of my writing than any other artist’s. If you like this sort of thing I’d recommend downloading everything from the LN website.
Irsen’s Tale – Kai Engel
Another great free download this. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Perfect stuff to edit to. Also planning to slap this on while tackling the last three quarters of the story I started last night. Did I mention this was beautiful?
So this is the music that fueled my writing and reading in 2013. What provided the soundtrack for your literary adventures this year?
5 Responses to Best Writing Music Of 2013
Hey Dan. Some ace stuff here. I’m going to go hunting more of it down — thanks for posting!
Much as I love it, I tend to find the more sparse piano stuff gets a bit dreamy and sends me to sleep at my keyboard. As for new music I’ve discovered/written to this year: Ryan Teague’s newest album has been on a lot, which is very twinkly, along with the latest Einaudi. The newest Boards of Canada is also fantastic mood music. All this, plus a lovely group called Iambic.
For more intense stuff I’ve been enjoying a select few Cult of Luna tracks on rotation. It’s heavy (disgracefully so in places) but powerful all the same. Check out ‘Dark City Dead Man’ and ‘Ghost Trail’ for a load of massive chords (but bear with them — it’s pretty proggy).
My stand-out track, though, is Nils Frahms’ ‘Familiar’. It’s absolutely beautiful, and more than loopable
Basically, though, Spotify is totally changing how I find writing music.
Happy New Year! Very much looking forward to the collection…
Hi Matt. Thanks for the recommendations. Will certainly be digging into that list. Always worth having more writing music to hand.
Really interesting post, and a subject dear to my heart… The Basinski is the only one on your list that I’ve ‘used’ myself; very happy to have new music to check out. Some favourites of mine: Loscil or Stars of the Lid for straightforward drone; crackly pre-war recordings of Debussy’s piano music; the Dies Irae from the Shining soundtrack (great sense of menace); Messiaen or Faure when the writing’s getting flat… Could go on all day. Oh, and Brian Eno. And Philip Glass. And Gavin Bryars’ ‘Sinking of the Titanic’… Sorry. Will stop now.
Hi Lynsey. Don’t apologise and please carry on chucking recommendations my way if you think of anything else. Stars of the Lid and Eno both have multiple albums in my Writing Music genre tag in iTunes. Talking of stars of the Lid, have you tried the side project A Winged Victory For The Sullen? Loscil and Gavin Bryars are both new to me so will check them out. And thanks for reminding me that I need to get some Phillip Glass.
Ha, you may regret that: I’ll be bombarding you with stuff for weeks to come… Will check out Winged Victory, thanks. And definitely try Loscil: full albums available on good old youtube – of which Stases is my current favourite. Happy listening and/or writing!
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