If Music Be the Food for Thought


The short story 'Bring the Night' in


How did authors ever get on without the internet? It makes instant experts of us all. Virtually everything is described and presented in images and diagrams for swift elucidation. This is an incredible boon to an author, who has all the libraries he or she is ever likely to consult at their fingertips. Images and art inspire authors in their depictions and are particularly useful in helping authors visualise people, places, objects and a million other things besides.

I like lots of stimulus when I writing. I'm not one of those go lock yourself in a silent room or spent the Summer in a remote cabin kinds of authors. I'm happy to have people around me while I'm writing. I write with my wife and children around me. I write in crowded cafes. I have even snatched an hour or two between seminars and signings at events, surrounded by authors and editors.

The one concession I make to isolating my thoughts is headphones. Music is a polite, little shower curtain I draw about myself when writing. I'm listening to music right now as I type this. I'm not saying I can't write without music but I certainly find it helps - and for more than just providing a barrier. I often try to match the feel of the music to what I am writing - in tone at least and not just content. This works particularly well with film, television, trailer and game soundtracks where an emotional architecture has already been built into the tracks. I find that great music can really help to lift the composition of a scene, description or interchange.

I recently asked around on social media for suggestions and am compiling a list of great tracks and soundtrack albums. I know that there are fantastic tracks out there that I haven't heard or perhaps just forgotten. I would welcome any further suggestions on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section of the blog. As a reminder, you can join me on any or all of these by Liking, Following or Joining using the buttons on the side bars. The more the merrier. In return I thought I might share a few favourites of mine here. Tracks that I think are amazing for setting a certain tone of mood. Rather than go Space Marine-bombastic I thought I might present some more thoughtful tracks that build and gain a momentum in their different ways. Tracks that really carry you alone as you are writing.

So, my Top 20 thoughtful tracks, in no particular order. The trick is to ignore the context. Some are from fantastic films and some from poor ones. Try to divorce the music from its source and enjoy it as is. No analysis or information. I'll let the music speak for itself. Further great suggestions might change this selection, of course!

1. 'Song for Bob' by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis from 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'.

2. 'Journey to the Line' by Hans Zimmer from 'The Thin Red Line'.

3. 'Promontory' by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman from 'The Last of the Mohicans'.

4. 'Comptine d'un Autre Été: L'Après Midi' by Yann Tiersen from 'Amelie'.

5. 'Elegy' by Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy from the 'Man of Steel' trailer.

6. 'Wilson, I'm Sorry' by Alan Silvestri for 'Cast Away'.

7. 'Krypton's Theme' by John Williams for 'Superman: The Movie'.

8. 'Any Other Name' by Thomas Newman from 'American Beauty'.

9. 'The Departure' by Michael Nyman from 'Gattaca'.

10. 'Crossing the Atlantic' by John Williams from 'Amistad'.

Click HERE for Tracks 11-20.


'We deal in dread...'
from Bring the Night in Renegades of the Dark Millennium.

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