Background Music for Writing?

When you are writing do you listen to music, the tv, anything? I like to write with quiet classical music playing in the background. But it is not that simple. It needs to be a particular type of classical music. My inclination is towards piano sonatas, especially those of Beethoven. Piano sonatas are great background, at least for me, as they are easy to filter out, but provide an ambience. They do not employ any prominent, distracting instruments like many other types of classical music. For me it is either that or silence.

The background for me is also to some degree mood dependent. But this is probably less of an issue than the nature and complexity of the writing I am undertaking. It may be that I need to concentrate on a particular passage or thought, and then it is usually preferable to me that I have no background distractions at all. Other times the presence of some subtle background music can help things to flow more easily.

So basically, it depends mostly on my mood, and the nature of the particular writing I am involved with. What about you? Do you write in silence? Or do you need something to break up that silence, something to inspire you? Let me know what works for you in the comments.

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38 thoughts on “Background Music for Writing?

  1. It definitely depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing something sad or moody the music I listen to needs to match. But if I’m writing an article then I prefer silence.
    šŸ™‚ Good question

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  2. Julian, I wish i could listen to music while writing, but I can’t. If the music has words I will start singing along and then typing what i hear and if I try to listen to instrumental then I will start tapping on the desk. Ugh. I have a one track mind apparently.

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  3. Typically, I write with music on through Pandora. Most of it is various genres of Rock music with some modern alternative in there. It’s not the standard choice among artists, but I’ve gleaned a lot of inspiration from having that music on the background. I also occasionally have the television on, but that’s only when my wife is also in the room watching it or I’m doing character creation, which requires more breaks.

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  4. It doesn’t really depend on what I’m writing, and if I’m writing on Microsoft Word, I like to put my headphones in and listen to something on Netflix. If you haven’t a Ntflix account, I also listen to music. You could always try these two?

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    • I tend to just have a playlist either of my own or from youtube and have that playing in the background on the PC. It is nice to hear that so may writers do like to have some sort of background music.

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  5. I can listen to any music. If anything, classical is more disruptive for me for some reason. I hate to have the tv on in the background unless it’s sport. I can write to sport šŸ™‚

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    • You are a lucky man. Why do you think classical is more disruptive? Do you dislike it more than other types? I am pretty sure I could never write with sport on the tv, although I have been known to write whilst the football is on, but I have the sound turned down (or off really). Even that I find distracting though šŸ™‚

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      • I think classical makes me close my eyes and want to relax. I do have the volume on low when watching sport. I think I like some sort of noise in the background when I write. I’m weird that way šŸ˜€

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  6. The only time I write to music is to mask those nearby. Then it’s instrumental jazz, preferable Horace Silver, Ahmad Jamal, John Coltrane, Elmo Hope, or Ornette Coleman. Editing is the same, although recently I found I can edit to Endless Boogie, even when the lead singer growls. šŸ™‚

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  7. I listen to classical as well. Strange, but most people would not admit to this. I have been listening to it for many years now, and basically demand most of my music to have no words. There are times that I crave the 80’s rock, maybe some 60’s, 70’s or a few 90’s, but mostly it is the Classics for me. If I were to pick a favorite; Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or a reasonable facsimile.

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  8. I need silence to organize my ideas and plan my writing. After that, anything instrumental – classical, jazz, or electronic – helps my creativity (I always end up writing the lyrics of the song I’m listening to otherwise).

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      • You make a good point. I can’t write while drinking a beer either. I was joking. I need silence when I write because otherwise I can’t concentrate on the writing itself. I wish it weren’t so. But hey, that’s life.

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  9. It varies for me . . . really depends on what I’m writing. When I’m writing a mystery, I like something like Nickelback. For a romance/women’s fiction I did, I listened to Sinatra. And if I’m looking for something emotional, I prefer Enya. BUT . . . most of the time my “background music” is the sound of whatever television show my hubs is watching. ;o)

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    • Interesting. Very varied. It sounds like you allow the music to inspire you and put you in the right mood for whatever genre you are working in. I wish I could write with the tv on. It would increase the amount of time for both considerably then šŸ™‚ Thanks for posting.

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  10. Not to be deliberately contrary but I don’t like to listen to music while writing…I prefer either a quiet space or a loud enough space with people talking, preferably in a foreign language so it doesn’t break into my own chain of thought.

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    • I don’t see it as necessarily being contrary. Being in a loud room of people talking a foreign language is not really any different to what I listen to I don’t think. It is something that is not obtrusive, which when you don’t understand the language is how it is. But let there be the quietest conversation in your own language and you can usually detect it šŸ™‚ Thanks for your view, nice to hear a different one.

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