7 days of soundtracks, getting pumped to write a great action scene

Justice – Stress

Justice are an electronic music act, creating some fantastic dance music. Their music can be both atmospheric and action filled and they use a great blend of very electronic sounds and some more classical timbres. If I’m writing a fight scene, having music that gets me pumped (beefcake, beeefcaaake!) really helps with putting some adrenaline into the action. I’d recommend the entire ‘A cross the universe’ live album, but the song ‘Stress’ works particularly well for me when building up the tension and getting both myself and hopefully my readers excited about what’s to come. The song leaves me with the same slightly breathless feeling that a really great action scene does.


7 days of soundtracks, capturing the city vibe

John Coltrane – Blue Train

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There’s something about jazz that just speaks to me of cities. It may be because I was living in London when I learned to play it and enjoy it! For whatever reason, whenever my characters are in the city, this just sets the scene for me perfectly. Conjuring up the dingy clubs, the darkened streets, the thrill of the unexpected and the magic that can be found in walking around a town with your imagination unlocked. It can also slip into the romantic and provide that mysterious liaison soundtrack, when the need arises. I like the slight edge of menace some of the tracks, particularly the title track, have to them. The combination of players on the album, including the fantastic and charismatic Elvin Jones on the drums evokes in me the same sense of discomfort I may feel in a strange place or difficult situation.


7 days of soundtracks, for when you need to bring the cool

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The Herbaliser

Writing a cool action scene, or perhaps some kind of heist? Look no further than the Herbaliser. They’re a live dance act, playing funky grooves whilst maintaining that minimalist thing I spoke about with Explosions in the Sky.  Reminiscent of the Ocean’s movies’ soundtracks by David Holmes, I can’t help but nod my head and grin when I listen to them. They work perfectly when I’m trying to bring the cool to whatever I’m writing and have sound-tracked many a character entrance in my head.


7 days of soundtracks, for when you’re looking for pain, joy, love, hurt

Frederick Chopin – piano preludes and nocturnes.

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There’s something uniquely evocative about solo piano. It may the use of it in movies since pretty much forever, but I can’t help but picture scenes when I hear it. Of course, there are plenty of clichés when it comes to this kind of thing, so I’m always careful when choosing which one to listen to. But then, clichés only earn that name because they’ve been used a lot, and that means that they work! For any kind of romance, tragic or otherwise, a bit of Chopin playing in the back ground can tease just the right phrase to really evoke the pain/joy/love/hurt you may be trying for.

7 days of soundtracks, music to set the scene for your writing

Music, as we all know, can be an incredibly powerful aid to creating the perfect atmosphere. Finding the emotion of a scene and associating yourself into that emotion can really affect the power of your writing and you can use music, if you don’t already, to get into that mindset before you create. It may sound a bit ‘method’ and you’ll want to be careful if you’re writing about anything too horrendous, but every tool you can use to enhance the emotional clout of a scene is worth trying. Lets face it, if you’re not moved by what you’re writing it’s unlikely that your reader will be either.

Over the next week I want to suggest some music that you might find helpful as a soundtrack to your writing, so to today’s offering:


Explosions in the Sky.

Explosions’ are a little known instrumental band from Texas, America, delivering slow builds and huge, glorious walls of sound. I haven’t chosen a particular song here, because they can be great for all sorts of occasions. Being a musician, I cannot help but listen to what’s going on in the music so when I’m in the process of writing, I can’t listen to music with words, and the more minimalist the better. Explosions’ are a band that creates really powerful imagery without distracting from the words in my head. They do this by using repetitive loops and very gradual changes, similar to the nature of minimalist classical from the 1960s. Below are a few song suggestions for particular scenes, but I’d recommend checking out all of their albums.

If your character is experiencing a real change of heart, or epiphany, go for ‘First breath after coma’. For the thoughtful, soul searching scene, try ‘Human Qualities, and for the tragedy, put on ‘Memorial’.