Soundtracks To Write By #7

It’s been a little while since I returned to this feature – so I thought it was deserving of some attention. I’m not a very musical person. I can’t sing (although I occasionally embarrass myself on Xbox ‘Lips’) and I can’t play an instrument. These abilities require a combination of skilled coordination and memory that I simply don’t have. It’s a fantastic gift, however, and I am in awe of people who do have it. While I can sit in silence with a pen, paper or laptop I find that listening to music adds a depth and a dynamic to the writing experience. Music helps to remove you from the ‘what is’ and immerse you in the ‘what might be’. It can lead to fresh ideas and directions or can simply help a scene rattle nicely off on the keyboard. I find that it is useful for putting me in a more creative frame of mind. I believe this has to do with the parts of the brain that the experience of music activates. I suspect that on some kind of scan the brain lights up like a Christmas tree when listening to music - and that some types produce very specific kinds of stimuli. Another part of this process probably has something to do with conditioning. Through repetitive action I’ve inadvertently trained my brain to quickly adapt to the needs of a creative session. Upon hearing certain kinds of music, I swiftly get into the mood to write something. This can be useful. You can’t always wait until the planets are in alignment and the wind is blowing the right direction to begin a new project, new paragraph or new sentence.

Today we’re back to the musical genius that is Hans Zimmer. He’s highly sought after in Hollywood and with good reason. His scores can really lift a piece of cinema. Even in relatively disappointing films, his tracks often help produce memorable scenes and sequences. I’ve chosen a couple of pieces that are not only helpful in creating a more investigative, rather than action-oriented, atmosphere – but also make me feel like I’m unlocking the secrets of some kind of puzzle as actually writing. Some tracks make any activity feel epic. Try listening to these while doing a rubik’s cube or doing your tax returns: you’ll think you’ve discovered the resting place of the Holy Grail or something! They are both variations on the same tune and come from the Da Vinci Code series of films. I can take or leave these films (although there are far worse ways of spending a couple of hours) but find that the soundtracks and main theme stay with you.

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