Tag Archives: music

Top 5 Songs via Spotify – 2016

 

Late last year I switched from Pandora to Spotify for writing music, and for the most part I couldn’t be happier. Spotify is leaps and bounds better at finding new music based on tracks you already like. They’ve added customized suggestions too, like the Release Radar that updates late Thursday/early Friday every week and recommended songs at the bottom of your individual playlists. My ears have never been so happy, except when they keep putting rap metal into my weekly Discover Playlist.

Nowhere did I sign up for rap metal, end of story.

Anyway, I thought it’d be neat to go over the songs I found through Spotify this year and make my own Top 5 list. They have a playlist of top 2016 tracks for me but I don’t agree on the order, so nyeh. Anyway, these are the songs that have most influenced and helped with my writing this year:

 

#5 Tie between Lifelines by I Prevail and Happy Song by Bring Me the Horizon

Lifelines is upbeat and a little on the lighter side, but has a killer chorus. Brings to mind fight or action scenes wherein the MC is finally victorious or has some kind of epiphany after screwing up so many times.

 

Happy Song doesn’t exactly sound happy… unless you have a bit of a dark heart (like me!). But it’s inspirational, in its own way. From just a normal, non-writing perspective, the lyrics really hit home; no matter how shitty a day has been, or how bad my mental state is, all it takes is one song – an anthem for that moment – to escape the maelstrom and survive.

Gnarly bass, heavy guitars – be still my beating heart. Great background music for an anti-hero getting ready to kick some ass, or anyone for that matter.

 

 

#4My Soul is Empty and Full of White Girls by Slaves

No, I have no idea why it has this kind of a name. What I do know is that I love the bass line. The chorus is uplifting bordering on ethereal, kind of a magic in itself (which doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to visualize spells and magic). It’s been hugely beneficial when I get into a rut about my MC, specifically on the urban fantasy project, and need to remember where she’s going in the bigger picture.

 

 

#3 – Talking Body by Don Vedda (Tove Lo cover)

Going to slowwww it down a bit with this one. Covers are often hit or miss when they come up on the playlists, but this one gives my current favorite (Chandelier by Normandie) a run for its money. Once again, the bass line drew me in and the guitar solo sealed the deal. Like #4, this song helps remind me the story’s a marathon effort, not a sprint. Also not to rush the romance arc… which is how I ended up writing the payoff scene intended for one of the sequels. TLDR – great for romance arcs!

 

 

#2 – Mad at Myself by Issues

I had such a hard time picking between Talking Body and Mad at Myself for this spot, but ultimately had to go with MaM. Dare I say it? Loved the bass and guitars, and the switching between clean and screamed vocals. The dual personality fit MC well, given the two worlds she’s trying to fit into. It’s a messy sort of character anthem, and hella fun.

 

#1 – *Moth by HELLYEAH

Where do I even begin with this? It’s one of those rare unicorn songs that just fits perfectly with damn near everything. Dark, heavy, lovely; seriously I listened to this on repeat for almost a month straight when it first came on, and STILL haven’t worn it out.

Moth is one of those songs I expect will be on almost all of my playlists for sci-fi/fantasy writing projects. Midpoint/mirror moment? This song’s for you. Negative character arc? This song’s for you. Good vs. evil or grey vs. black climax battle? This song’s for you. Betrayal, loss of hope, renewal of hope, a thousand other things – this song’s for you.

*Warning – video contains bugs (moth and pupae), suggestions of domestic abuse and cutting (aftermath, not actual acts), and guy holding a string of fake severed ears for some reason.

 

And that’s it! Enjoy the songs, and hopefully one of them will spur your own creativity and imagination. The actual “Top Tracks for 2016” playlist that Spotify made for me can be found here. If the link doesn’t work, give a shout in the comments. And if there are any songs that really inspired you this year, let me know!

 

Happy Holidays to you all, and see you in 2017!

 

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Writing with Music: A Careful Dance

Okay everybody, it’s that time again. Curse these stinkin’ Mondays, making you WORK. And now I’m going to make you do more. No rest for the wicked, no rest for the writer.

Fine, you can have one margarita before you start. ONE.

 

This week’s theme is: A Careful Dance. Today’s music courtesy of Lindsey Sterling –

 

Some prompt ideas:

– a character must tango, literally or figuratively, with someone they perceive as an enemy

– a thief steals something, is spotted, now must run for their freedom and/or life

– space freighter captain navigating through enemy airspace, barking commands at his or her crew while trying to keep the ship and cargo intact

 

For me, the song seems like it would fit a historical piece or section, especially if the character or mood needs to be a little sassy. Whether it’s a young woman who has to dance with a proposed suitor at a ball to make her guardian happy, or a sky-captain grappling onto another airship in a surprise attack, this song should work for both character or plot-driven scenes.

Again, don’t spend all your writing time today/tomorrow doing this. Ten to fifteen minutes, just enough to get your juices flowing. To grease your brain gears for your own project. To spark an idea. Seriously, there is no pressure! I won’t even tell my hundred-plus ponies if you didn’t do it.  I will tell the cat, though. He’s not so forgiving. He’ll be all up on your face wondering why you weren’t feeding him if you weren’t writing, either.

Enjoy!

 

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Writing with Music: Going Dark

While I haven’t talked much about my actual writing process, one thing is almost always a constant – music.

Music lets me see, hear, breathe the atmosphere I’m trying to get across on the page. It helps me pace a scene, lengthening sentences to build tension, or speeding up when a character is about to get into trouble. Sometimes, a song will crystallize a character or event so perfectly, that the rest of the scene flows around it like it has a life of its own.

TL;DR – If you’re having problems getting into a scene, or suffering from blank page syndrome, listening to music can be a good way to help you visualize the section and get started.  Don’t believe me? Well, it’s time to experiment!

 

Here’s how this works – I’ll post a link to a song on Youtube, along with a couple of prompts or ideas to get you started. This is not necessarily to make you write more, but to get your brain juices flowing. If it turns into a new idea you want to flesh out later, great! Practice is perfect, and this is just another method to help get the practice in. Think of it as a writing prompt.

I have some… eclectic musical tastes. Even if the song I post isn’t your style, it should jog your memory enough to spit out one that’s more your speed while making you think about the same mood/atmosphere/tone.  *Sometimes I may post a second song; this isn’t to make you do two exercises, but so you have another option if the main song is too heavy/crude for you.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

Vacuity by Gojira

(Side note: I personally don’t like the bridge that follows the second chorus, so I usually just repeat the first two minutes)

 

The theme this week is Going Dark. Here are some sample prompts:

– write a scene where a monster or beast hunts a victim; alternatively, a scene where a character is fleeing something/someone

– a scene where your antagonist (or protagonist!)  gets his/her hands dirty

– someone watching a violent storm or other act of god approaching a shore, destroying an island village, or ripping through a city

 

*Alternate video – Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace

 

Take five or ten minutes, and see what you come up with. Where does the song take you? What kind of scene did you write? In that scene, what does the character (or narrator) see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Did you get a sense of urgency or anger? Or did the song(s) bring out an atmosphere of fear or foreboding?

I hope this helps, at least to spur some new ideas if it doesn’t warm you up for a work-in-progress. Remember, too, that whatever you jotted down doesn’t have to be perfect, shouldn’t be perfect. Draft quickly, cut it all up and sew it back together later.

Since I’m the instigator of this, I’ll share a snippet from my messy tidbit.

 

“Up now. Time to catch the tide.”

“Have you lost your mind? Those things are out there!”

“Hah. That noise you hear is coming from behind us, gaining fast.”

“The floor is swaying beneath my feet, so much that I might not even make it to the boat without losing the fare my little coin could get.”

“Oh no boy. That smacking you feel b’neath you is the Lord of the seas ‘imself.”

“So he’s trying to kill me too?”

“Nah, he’s keeping them at arm’s length. But we hafta go now. I don’t have that much favor with the beast.”

“What kind of beast?”

“The Kraken, man. Who else could rule the seas?”

This is a really bare-bones example of my jotting. I mainly wanted to get the dialogue and important details down before I forgot them. It will be easy to go back later and add character names, action tags, and flesh out the scene since the gist of it is solidified in my head now.

*If you like the exercise, what you wrote, or have a suggestion for the next installment, feel free to leave a comment!

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