Whenever I sit down to write at my desk, there’s a standard list of soundtracks I always go to. In no particular order, I’ve listed these below.
Monument Valley Original Game Soundtrack (by Stafford Bawler, et al.)
Recommended by Shawn Blanc and I fully agree. I put the Monument Valley soundtrack on mostly when writing non-fiction since I find the mood it evokes to be quite nonintrusive. It helps me focus, get my writing done and doesn’t get in the way.
Angels in America (by Thomas Newman)
I’m a sucker for any music by Thomas Newman. The man is a genius (anyone who can keep a dry eye during Finding Nemo will probably disagree with me). His score for the HBO mini series “Angels in America” is evocative of broad sweeping landscapes and rich theatre. I love how a number of key themes are interwoven again and again in different styles and structures throughout.
Oxenfree (by scntfc)
I would hazard this soundtrack is an acquired taste and you would’ve had to play the game to understand this one. Oxenfree was a surprisingly addictive story-adventure game I played last year. The loopy time travel story was written with such style. The teenagers’ dialogue was very well written and the voice acting was great. Putting the soundtrack on whilst writing mysterious pseudo-scientific parts of my story went well together.
The Cider House Rules (by Rachel Portman)
A classic book & movie about growing up, finding your own path in life and how we view the people we look up to in our youth. The soundtrack carried such warmth that it helped set the mood for the warmer, family-oriented parts of my story.
Alan Wake (by Petri Alanko)
A soundtrack written for a game inspired by the stories of Stephen King. What’s not to like? The mysterious and broad sweeping score to the highly entertaining game from Remedy was a great companion during the more intense parts of my story.
Heavy Rain (by Normand Corbeil)
Can we spot a pattern here? I do find game soundtracks extremely useful in my writing, since they’re almost designed to get “out of the way” as you play a game. Although I would contest that with this soundtrack. The melodramatic (yet entertaining) PS3 game Heavy Rain features some of the most (in hindsight) hilarious scenes in gaming history (Press X to Shaun link). But the dramatic soundtrack helped to set the tone extremely well.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (by John Williams)
A classic movie with a classic John Williams soundtrack. Need I say more? An uplifting feeling of adventure and excitement permeates throughout. If you’re writing a fun action scene, the motorcycle scherzo will definitely inspire you!
Mass Effect 2 (by Jack Wall et al.)
The last one on this list. The Mass Effect games were great (particularly if you did some manual labour and fixed the ending using mods). No soundtrack captured the spirit of these three games (I’m choosing to ignore Andromeda) as well as the soundtrack to the second game. Composed by Jack Wall & others, the mood evoked is one of technological grandeur. The last run of the album (starting with Crash Landing and smoothly moving into the Suicide Run) has to be the greatest piece of music ever written to accompany an action scene.
Whilst I could go on, the ones that almost made the list were: Jade Empire (by Jack Wall), The Expanse (by Clinton Shorter), Journey (by Austin Wintory), Dragon Age: Origins (by Inon Zur) & Baldur’s Gate (by Michael Hoenig).
I hope you found this list useful. Sound off in the comments below: What’s your favourite music to write to?