Do you have a habit of listening to music when you write? If yes or definitely yes, has it ever occurred to you that the music you tend to listen to while writing can distract you from the given work? How often do you struggle to find an impeccable album for the current mood or atmosphere of your writing? It is also possible that you have never put a record on while writing just because you just do not know where to start. If that is so, let me help, if I may.

First of all, I need to highlight that not every type of music, as well as not every type of task, can be combined into one effective and pleasant process. For instance, my brain is especially sensitive to different distractions. There are even times when the most inoffensive background noise or sounds can take my mind off my work. Nevertheless, my brain often tends to travel light years in just a few seconds, and in such cases, music is there to help me focus. Naturally, the type of music should be relevant to the tone of my current writing, and contrasts in music, namely, crests and falls taken turn by turn, are better for me than mere droning sound.

Dear all, who often needs to write or just loves writing! Music is rather helpful in those moments when you find yourself stuck, lost, or unmotivated! It is nine times out of ten that music pulls me out of the funk and triggers further writing. There is a particular explanation for this tendency, namely, emotional connection of the brain forged between events and music. As studies by Petr Janata reveal, memory processing and music appreciation both occur in the area of medial prefrontal cortex, which means that it causes mind to bind music and memory permanently together. It is a significant phenomenon indeed!

As far as you can see from this brief story, music is incredibly beautiful and useful when writing. Hence, I want to introduce some of my favorite albums to you. They are arranged according to mood and atmosphere, as well as aligned with coffee roasts. It is a rather smart classification, huh?

Recommended Music

Dark Roasts (Compatible with Dark Fantasy/Horror/Transgressive, and the like)

1. Sonic Youth – “Simon Werner Disparu Soundtrack”

Sonic Youth is most certainly my favorite band for all times and cases. This band has a breadth of instrumental (implying – writer-friendly) music spanning thirty-plus years. It is incredible music to write about something transgressive and dark. Highlights for you to start with: Made in USA and Demonlover.

2. Rockabye Baby! –“Lullaby Renditions of Björk”

The major concept behind the series of Rockabye Baby! albums is as follows: popular artists are needed to render them in the soothing tones aimed to put babies right to sleep, and at the same time, to spare mom and dad from overplayed nursery rhymes. It is a total win-win case. Nope, I do not have kids just yet, but I do enjoy these albums extremely since they provide awesome background music for reading, writing, and even studying.

3. Nine Inch Nails – “Ghosts I-IV”

Do you remember the renowned "alternative music" craze of the 1990s? Well, Nine Inch Nails (AKA Trent Reznor and a revolving cast of musicians) were quite a part of it. I assume that their biggest hit was “Closer.” As Reznor's musical sensibilities altered, Nine Inch Nails started exploring diverse areas, and Ghosts I-IV is a representative of their most excellent instrumental soundscapes. It is a collection of short, authentic, brooding compositions. Some of them are quiet and atmospheric, whereas others appear to be loud and cacophonous. It is a must for my inspiration.

Medium Roasts (Compatible with Modern and Hard Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Weird Lit-Fic)

1. Tortoise – “It's All Around You”

This type of music is quite cinematic. What I mean is that their songs are rich in emotional arcs, beats, and epic reveals, whereas they are also pretty fit right at home on film soundtracks. It is the fifth album of the band. My ultimate fav here is definitely "Crest." Tortoise's entire oeuvre provides a listener with intergalactic tinges, which makes it a perfect match for writing science fiction masterpiece.

2. Zöe Keating – “One Cello X 16: Natoma”

This type of music brings to mind the enigmatic universes of hard fantasy, such as the ones by George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert Jordan. Keating has these sweeping classical compositions that lead to an old-world-blended-with-the-speculative sensation. Such feelings are created by means of looping and electronically manipulating the One Cello. One can regard her method of music creation as a corollary to the process of writing, namely, authors tend to sit down with nothing but a pen and paper or a laptop and their wild imagination involved to develop entire worlds inhabited by fleshed-out, living, and breathing entities, whereas Keating brings nothing but a computer, a cello, and her brain to the process of creation, and results in an entire orchestra, authentic universe of sound. From this perspective, Keating's a kindred spirit to all the writers, and thus her music aligns so smoothly with any writing experience.

3. Amon Tobin – “Out From Out Where”

It is the fifth album of Amon Tobin, the Brazilian electronica superstar. This music inspires me to write either scenes comprising grizzled spaceship crews lost adrift somewhere in the sparkling galaxy, or stories about drug-pumped kids and their routine in neon-surreal dance clubs. Well, yes, there is another scene: sadistic tortures conducted in gloomy cellars. To cut a long story short, Tobin explores a range of sounds, but the single unifying element of this album is darkness married to creepiness, lurking within each track.

Light Roasts (Compatible with General Lit-Fic, Romance and Comedy)

1. Ulrich Schnauss – “Faraway Trains Passing By”

Ulrich Schnauss uses the same instruments Tobin does with an ultimate difference to achieve the opposite effect. This German producer and musician develops light, understated beats layered with quiet melodies and mellow synth drones. Schnauss’ music is sufficiently rhythmic for keeping you writing, and at the same time, it floats along like time-lapsed footage of clouds. Faraway Trains will be poorly aligned with excessively serious writing since this music is unobtrusive and soothing – a perfect match for romantic and funny stories. An extra bonus: this particular album manages to cut through surrounding noise pretty well. Hence, if you are trying to work while someone watches an unbearable TV show, you will not suffer from it.

2. Thelonious Monk – “Alone in San Francisco”

Once I discovered jazz music (it was in college), Monk’s album was my first purchase. Since college time, it was an impeccable fit to many occasions, such as after-party comedowns, breezy Sunday afternoons, make-out sessions, study sessions, and, naturally, writing. Monk does not use the title as a pure metaphor: Monk is literally alone in this city, playing some of his most renowned piano tunes solo. Moreover, if the album’s title suggests isolation and hints depression potential to follow it, this is only a superficial suggestion, since the tracks here (even the "sad" ones) are played with a bubbly exuberance that inevitably brings you to the state of bright spirits. I see in this album nothing but happy stories embedded virtuously in each song, so – enjoy!

3. Explosions In The Sky – “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place”

This music is particularly authentic. The associations with the album do not comprise images of spaceships, fantastic beasts, witches, and magicians, but sensations of pure excitement, joy, sadness, and sweet heartache – the palette of human emotions experienced daily. As for me, this album features the full scope of life and death. Naturally, you can find something of your own in this album, so the only thing I am saying here that it is worth been listened to.

I believe each person engaged to some extent in writing, has such a list of musical favs. You are welcome to share yours here, or come back and tell how you like or dislike the ones from my list. Perhaps, some roasts and songs will not coincide, but I believe you will find something to your liking here.