Writing Music: A Frisson Mission

I can write without caffeine, alcohol, or drugs, but there’s one thing I do need. I’m talking about music, the flavour creator mood generator, and I have a very specific approach to what music I listen to when writing.

Music had been an inspiration of mine since I was a little kid. I used to read, or watch TV, and then listen to music and close my eyes. I’d imagine myself as one of the characters in whatever story I had just watched or read. In vivid detail, I’d watch movies created in my mind. This was one of my favourite activities as a kid. Make-believe aided by music. I inserted myself into Wheel of Time, Dragonball Z, and countless other shows while listening to my favourite music as a teen: Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Nirvana and other angry, angsty rock. My musical tastes have evolved a lot since then, thank god.

My body reacts physically to music. I recently discovered a term that describes the phenomenon. The French word Frisson describes a sensation of intense emotion that includes a shiver-like physical manifestation. I get goosebumps from certain types of music very frequently. In general, my musical taste gravitates towards music that can inspire Frisson. No surprise, songs that inspire Frisson are also some of my favourite writing tunes.

Every writing project gets its own personalized playlist. When I was writing my fantasy novel I was listening to a lot of dubstep, especially Nero, for the fight scenes. Maybe it’s because I used to listen to heavy music and imagine stuff as a kid, but whenever I listen to dubstep an epic action scene starts playing in my head.

For emotional, character-driven scenes I’ll listen to heartfelt ambient music, catered to my story. Sigur Ros is great for moments of beauty, while Aphex Twin is great for strange characters. Music appreciation is entirely subjective and I imagine other writers will have different selections than I do.

Movie soundtracks are the gold mines of writing music. They’re often extremely atmospheric and moody. I particularly like the soundtracks for Drive, the Fountain, 28 Days Later, Requiem for a Dream, Death Note, Annihilation, and the Social Network.

This is my playlist for CampNaNo:

My next project is about finding horror in hedonism, taking place on a party island like Ibiza. I curated the playlist to match that.

What’s your experience with writing music? Do you have any favourites? I’m always looking for recommendations. Drop in the comments and let’s share some fabulous writing tunes. Take it easy and happy writing!

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