If I’m lucky, every week I spend a number of happy hours by myself, writing. Music is often my only companion. If I’m really concentrating – trying to craft a particularly tricky sentence, or juggling a complicated plot sequence, I turn it off, but most of the time it is the perfect accompaniment. I’m like Pavlov’s dogs: the minute I hear a particular type of music, my fingers start itching. It’s time to write.

Music can enhance my writing as much as accompany it. My sentences seem to become more lyrical, my paragraphs flow better and are easier on the ear. It also seems to place me in the correct creative space; particularly when I am working on my novel, which is a combination of reality and fantasy. I need to be “carried off to my happy place” before starting work on it and the right music is the perfect mode of transport.

Here, in no particular order, is some of my favourite music to write to. You’ll notice that much of it is Celtic. I’m a Northern Irish lass at heart and I find myself repeatedly drawn to Celtic music. It seems to “fit” me, and I hope that in some small way it can inform my writing and infuse it with its magic.

1. Loreena McKennitt – Any of her albums actually, but at the moment I am in love with An Ancient Muse  (I love the exotic Middle Eastern flavour) and A Midwinter Night’s Dream. Her song Dante’s Prayer (click here to listen to her singing it live) is probably my all-time favourite.

2. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love and The Sensual World are my albums of choice at the moment.

3. Clannad – every single album. Especially the Robin Hood soundtrack one. God, I loved that British-made ITV series. (Incidentally, anyone know where I can track it down online?)

4. Coldplay – Paradise. Yellow. Many others.

5. Any good classical album. And I particularly love Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. I studied it at university and it has stayed with me over the years.

6. Enya – but only her album And Winter Came. I’m not so keen on the others, although her song Boadicea, which was the theme song to the marvellous BBC series The Celts, is one of my favourites. (Anyone know where I can track that TV series down online?)

Incidentally, Boadicea was the Celtic Queen of the Iceni tribe. She led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. She was a fascinating historical figure and you can read more about her here.

7. Celtic music compilations – Here’s one of my YouTube favourites.

8. Anything French. Although the risk with this is, I get transported to the streets of Paris and Normandy (where I lived for a couple of years) and I find it difficult to concentrate. But that’s a lovely problem to have…

What music do you like to write to? I’d love to discover some new companions.


5 thoughts on “Music to Write By

  1. Thanks for the excellent noew music (esp. Loreena McKennitt ).
    I often write my thesis to the Münchener Bach-Orchester & Karl Richter – Trinity (Vol. 3) spoti.fi/1b63sg3

    1. Oooo thanks Nigel, I will listen. Just as an interesting aside, I also listen a lot to Amy Grant (her early stuff) and Keith Green. Not necessarily to write to, but just because I love their music and it reminds me of my youth…

  2. Hi there! Nice choice of music to write to. When I write poetry I tend to listen to quite a lot of Jean-michel Jarre (particularly Chronologie or Oxygene – if you dig french music check it out) Vangelis is another one. Sometimes I put my own music on as well (I’m a composer of music as well 🙂 ) sometimes I also listen to the melody of the wind. Helps the mind become liquid with thoughts 🙂

    You can check out my music here: http://www.reverbnation.com/thenathancarlsonproject and my acoustic guitar music can be found at http://www.reverbnation.com/nathancarlson

    Thanks for your time mate!

    Nathan Carlson, composer from down under

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