Screenwriting : Music and writing by Leah Waller

Leah Waller

Music and writing

Yes, I'm supposed to be writing, but I'm taking a break (stop judging me.) I was just curious if ya'll listen to music while you write? I currently have Lindsey Stirling killing a violin in the background, but I also like Bon Iver and Sigur Ros. I'm not getting sick of my writing playlist - but I wouldn't mind expanding it. What (if anything) do ya'll listen to? I find music with to much vocals distracts me or the lyrics end up in my screenplay (that can get weird.)

David Karner

I'm about to head out to DunkinDonuts to write. Free wifi, a coffee, headset with my favorite background music and three 1/2 hours of facing the screen. Then they ask me to leave. I do this about three times a week. It really helps. There's no chores to distract and everyone else is there to do the same thing. So, yes, music. I love listening to MOON soundtrack - one of my favorites. I also listen to Beck or some other atmospheric stuff.

Leah Waller

Thanks Brandi! Those are great selections. I'll have to look up 2chellos and I've never heard of a beatbox flute - that sounds awesome! LOL David - I feel ya! I usually write at a coffee shop or the library. At home I have 2 cats who alternate sitting on my keyboard and my head (literally, not figuratively or hyperbole.) I can get 4/5 pages written at home - on a good day vs 120 in 4-5 days at a shop. I'll look up Moon - never heard of that. Love Beck though.

KC Compton

I listen to Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz station on Pandora, or other cool jazz. Everything with lyrics distracts me, and symphonic music gets bombastic in a hurry. I can envision the Russian army coming over the hill and just have to switch to something much more chill ...

DB Jack Smith

Yeah, I listen to music as I write. but as a rule of thumb I try to listen to music that o think fits the style, so if I am writing something that has lots of high octane fantasy action I might listen to J-pop to get me pumped. hope that helps.

B Lee

If I'm working on a feature I will usually write with a soundtrack created to set the mood and tone. The soundtrack will range 25-50 songs and can be instrumental, pop, metal, rap, etc. Headphones on and Final Draft, that's about all I need to write.

Leah Waller

Hi Oriel - OMG super cool website - no clue that even existed!! thanks!! KC - I know what you mean, a few times Rhapsody in Blue got to intense and I had to switch it, esp. during dialogue re-writes. Brian - You've hit pretty much all my none writing playlist! Rob Zombie and NIN will always be favs (trent reznor is a genius!) but can you imagine the lyrics from Closer slipping into a period piece drama?! LOL That would be the end of my career! DB - That seems to be a popular method, I suppose I don't usually think about what music fits my style of writing. That's very interesting, I'm going to try it and get back to you. Billan - Headphones, Final Draft, and a strong cup of coffee! :) Have a great writing day everyone - thanks for your input I can't wait to check out some of the bands ya'll like.

Lisa Clemens

I usually throw on my mix from Pandora.

Shawn Speake

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross!

Owen Mowatt

Hi, Leah I always listen to music! I think if you listen closely to dialogue and the way its delivered in movies, it can seem like singing. Listening to music also helps with the tone and pacing of my scripts. It doesn't work for everyone of course, but I highly recommend writers try it.

Niksa Maric

Never stop listening. It's like a synthetic drug, only in SOUND FORM.

Jeffrey Kraynak

So much YES!!! I love you people. Sigur Ros all the way! And Moon! Another favorite of Clint Mansell is The Fountain. To expand your Sigur Ros/Jonsi list, track down the White Light Festival performance (orchestral versions of Jonsi and Alex's Riceboy Sleeps and two new compositions from Kjartan Sveinsson, including a 20-minute epic, one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear). Other staples in my writing playlist are Amethystium, E.S. Posthumus, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Maserati, and Nobuo Uematsu (music from the Final Fantasy series... yes, I'm a nerd, but it really is beautiful music). Soundtrack-wise, other favorites are Craig Armstrong's Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Hans Zimmer's The Thin Red Line, James Newton Howard's Snow Falling on Cedars, and anything Thomas Newman. OH, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis!

Paul Usungu

It's depends on what I'm writing about. But most of the time I have the music on.

Zach Rosenau

Steve Reich's "Music For 18 Musicians" is my personal favorite lets-churn-out-some-fresh-material album. It's almost better than sleep for clearing your head.

Karla von Huben

I often put a DVD on (I don't have TV at the moment) just for the noise, or when the silence gets oppressive. Generally, though, I find music, drama--anything, really--distracting. I do better with complete quiet. At least until it gets to be too quiet. :D

Hiram Watkins

I keep my selection to rock and hip hop. Some classical I could use as well. I feel like the classical music helps with ideas and the playlist helps with the writing.

Nikki Syreeta

It varies depending on what I'm writing. I listen to trance, house, techno. Stuff without words so I can feel the music, If its too quiet I start editing and second guessing.

Anthony D Paul

My cable provider, provides me with music channels. I've been using the classical channel lately. Vivaldi, Bach, Tchaikovsky, what ever. Then there's the soundscape channel. Pretty nice Enya music or music sounding like the movie 'Man on Fire.' I'm writing serious stuff, so that music comes in handy. :)

Richard Howe

I love evanescence for suspense or scary plots. I kinda like Lenny Kravitz for a variety of scenes. It all depends on who and what you are writing for!

Daniel Dore

I don't have any preference besides that it has to move. I write mainly action features, so I need a fast pace kind of music, lyrics or not doesn't matter.

Natasha Powell

If it's a fight scene I'm all about Iron Median and Black Sabbath, if it's light hearted, I put on some Allman Brothers. Even if it is depressing I put on some Allman Brothers because they are always a good choice for me.

Marsha Mildon

I can't write with music playing because the rhythm of the music interferes with the rhythm of the words. Oddly, I can listen to 'talk radio' --- maybe the words on those shows don't have a strong enough rhythm to interfere.

Edward E. Kramer

Philip Glass, Jimi Hendrix, and Gary Lucas; it gets somewhat diverse from there.

Richard Allis

I always have music going. It drowns out the noise from outside, i.e. passing cars, kids playing. All kinds of rock n roll and stuff like Taylor Swift, Faith Hill & Neil Diamond too.

Karla von Huben

Anthony Paul, do you know about the band 2002? They remind me of Enya and I often listen to them. "Deep Still Blue" has become my favorite of their songs. You can find it on YouTube if you don't know it.

Kevin Ryan

I actually listened to the Pirates of the Caribbean music, you know , the famous music, when writing an adventure story. I tend to listen to lots of movie soundtracks or TV show music (Lost - Life and Death ) or lots of 2 Steps From Hell. Of course the music really depends on what mood I'm writing.

Chris Boardman

Every great film editor I've worked with listens to music when editing. They tell me it helps them keep a consistent pace through their cut. I would assume that listening to instrumental music could have a similar effect.

D. Max Hamblin

Toad the Wet Sprocket...the songs are mellow and they won't get stuck in your head.

Michael Corcoran

I'm new to this site, and posted this in the wrong place! lol! I am copying it to you now. Regarding listening to music when writing- I usually do it when I need inspiration. I have actually written about a dozens scenes as the music seemed to guide my creativity... I've wrote a screenplay that begins with ancient music traveling from the past to the present, and right to the house of a particular man as if it was calling him- This once popular rock star had not created any music in years. So he went to Ireland. Later in our story, we visit the woman in 1860 who played the "traveling" music. She had picked up playing the piano after her husband died in the great potato famine in Ireland, back in the 1840's. She soon discovered she was a prodigy. The deep pain that she suffered was able to reach deep into her soul to find a hidden gift... I have been working with a musician in Australia. Her name is Fiona Joy Hawkins. She plays piano with a mixed style of both classical and new age. I was listening to Pandora while writing, and her music jumped out at me. I turned it up, and immediately saw a new scene unfold before my minds-eye. I was thrilled! Then I bought her CD online; Blue Dream. I wrote her an email and told her what had happened and she was also thrilled! We met at a recording studio in New Hampshire, and were able to go over my screenplay in person. She took it home and produced a half dozen songs based on the inspiration she received from my story in her CD 600-Years. So I guess it can work both way!

B Lee

Michael Corcoran - wow. very cool stuff. impressive.

Michael Corcoran

Thanks Billan... Nice of you to say so.

Michael Corcoran

Dan Guardino- Whatever works, that is what we will do! Personally, I prefer instrumentals when writing, but lyrics when not.

David M Hyde

Always. I have three kids at home. One is a drummer, another plays bass. I bought noise canceling headphones even before buying Final Draft.

Frazer Houston

Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, REM, Beautiful South, Gin Blossoms, David Bowie

Kiril Maksimoski

When I write I do nothing but write. But music can help with brainstorming, it does for me.

K Kalyanaraman

When I was writing a script on a dark metal band, I was listening to Metallica, Iron Maiden and Mayhem. While on a short film on classical music, it was Beethoven. Context sensitive music inspires me. Else, I am often plugged to blues, rock and jazz, and Indian classical...

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In