Do You Have Angst?: My life should have a soundtrack (part one)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My life should have a soundtrack (part one)

I’m a little OCD and methodical about my writing, and music is a key part of that process.  This started when I found I wasn’t getting much writing done at home.  Distractions like kids, internets, snacks, video games, comic books, and other such important things tend to thwart progress.  As much as I would prefer writing at home in my office, I quickly found that several hours hidden away at a bookstore or coffee house produced more than the time I spent trying to dodge bullets and poor self-discipline.  While bookstores and coffee houses can be great places for people watching, they also tend to be noisy.  Unfortunately music with words tends to be as distracting as people talking, but music without words is perfect. 

I feel great appreciation for composers of these soundtracks, so I have to give a shoutout to those I spend the most time with.  The list below doesn’t include everything, but definitely includes the highlights.  These scores have inspired me through the completion of one book and almost a second. I'm listing twenty total in 2 blog posts, here are the first 10...

1 Bicentennial ManJames Horner:  This is a staple.  I can always fall back to this soundtrack if I’m not writing an adventure or fight scene.  One of my favorite sentimental movies, and I rarely get sick of listening to the score.  If you write, you can’t do wrong including this in your playlist.  If you drive to work, listen to this and you won’t tailgate anyone.

2 How to Train Your Dragon John Powell:  I think this was the best movie of 2010 and it has become one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.  A perfect mix of nostalgia and adventure – I love every song!

3 TransformersSteve Jablonsky: I listen to this one when I’m bracing for impact and preparing to write fierce.  Want to write a scene where great battles take place?  This is your score.  The first movie is the best, and I’m guessing the first soundtrack is too since that’s the only one I have.

4 Meet Joe BlackThomas Newman: This is my backup for Bicentennial Man, when I need to listen to something else.  I love the music, but cut out every other song as some are scored for the ‘funny’ scenes.

5 Lost Michael Giacchino:  Writing Angst I sometimes write depressed, and there isn’t much more depressing music than Lost.  Hauntingly beautiful, though I had to remove a lot of the eerie stuff from my playlist.

6 Star Trek 2009Michael Giacchino:  Great movie and great soundtrack.  The music from the beginning where Kirk’s mom gives birth and his dad dies tears at my heart – love writing to this.  If you are ever curious, check out the crazy amount of scores Giacchino has produced

7 Invincible Two Steps from Hell:  I found a great resource in movie trailer music.  An awesome selection of mostly adventure/go-getem songs, and once and awhile I’ll hear one of them in a movie preview.

8 Firefly/Serenity Greg Edmonson:  I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity.  I don’t think I could find a greater crime than only 13 episodes, and will be eternally grateful for one Big Damn Movie.  Best scores ever, enough said.

9 The StandW.G. Snuffy Walden:  If you’ve watched the mini-series you will appreciate when I say I loved the part of the score when they are walking cross-country.  Great stuff.

10 The Fifth ElementEric Serra:  Big Badda Boom!  Awesome movie, awesome bump music.  I listen to this while thinking about what I’m writing next.

I'll be sharing ten more in my next blog post, but until then, do you listen to music when you write?  If so which scores?  I'm always looking for more music and would love to know!


  1. Hi, I am currently reading Angst and I am really enjoying it. As far as music that I listen to when I'm writing I prefer music that doesn't already have strong images attached. I listen to composers like John Serrie, Vangelis, Michael Stearn and Mark Isham. This type of music puts images in my head that help me write scenes and put things together.


  2. Interesting selection. I need music without words, too. I rely on Lord of the Rings for dark scenes. I also use Transformers, Avatar, and Coraline. That's at home. Coffee shop noise doesn't bother me, unless someone is sitting close enough and speaks loudly enough to become separate from the general noise.

  3. @Rick - Thanks for saying so, I'm glad you like it! Also, thanks for the suggestions, I don't have anything from those composers and will definitely check them out.

    @Marie I need to pick up LOTR and Avatar one of these days - but I hadn't thought of Coraline. I remember enjoying the music so I'll have to preview it tonight. Thanks!