Soundtrack to the Story

I was daydreaming, enjoying my morning coffee and getting lost in the music at my favorite coffee bar (the Newsbar on University Place) when it occurred to me that, at least for that short period of time, my life had a perfect soundtrack.

In films, music sets the mood of a scene, foreshadows the entrance of a pivotal character, warns of danger and fills in the gaps in conversations. In life, it’s unlikely to be perfectly timed, but when it hits right, it’s great. The classic blues playing while I drank my macchiato brought me back to my childhood when I fell in love with music that was old before I was born. (Yeah, I was a weird kid, but that’s another story.)

Some authors use references to music to carry some of the weight of character development and mood. Peter Robinson, a fine mystery writer, does this in his Inspector Banks series. If you haven’t read any of them, give him a try. I’ve read a bunch, but “In a Dry Season” is the one that still resonates in my imagination.

Getting back to music, one of my favorite blogger/authors A.C. Flory of Meeka’s Mind blog, often posts about music. I recall a post from last January about “finding” the right music to write by. I love that idea!

Sometimes I connect something I’ve read with the music I heard at that time. It’s even easier to link the music I’ve listened to while writing with the manuscript when it’s done. Still, there’s a missing — and intriguing — piece. Wouldn’t it be cool to supply a soundtrack to a story? I’m sure it’s possible on a Kindle.

Of course the music matches intended by the author might not work for the reader. This problem hit home with a thud when the corporate management of my gym decided to switch the music source for the locker room. We went from classical, jazz & pop playlists to endless, mind-numbing, a-melodic, new age instrumentals. I thought I’d die, or commit murder, in the sauna and I discovered I was not alone.

Maybe the solution is a playlist suggestion? Recommending that the reader listen to a particular piece of music, but not forcing the subject. My dad did a variation on this when he published a recipe book to accompany his memoir. He suggested various American Songbook standards for the quiet time waiting for dough to rise when baking bread. Umm… maybe dad was ahead of his time?

Here’s A.C. Flory’s contemplation of the subject….



  1. Candy:

    I just blogged a soundtrack for my latest book, but wasn’t smart enough to put something like that in the actual ebook. But yeah, in the world of links, why not?


    • Candy Korman

      I saw your playlist post right after I drafted this for my blog. I think the concept is in the air! Of course, my post was inspired both by the WRONG music in my gym’s shower/locker rooms and the right music at my favorite place for coffee — so it really was in the air…

  2. It’s a treat for me when I’m writing my blog to listen to music. Very often a particular song will pop into my head when doing this and I include it in the blog. What I generally do is select an old song on youtube and then as it finishes, choose the next one from the list on the right hand side.
    I can add one song a day in the blog.
    Some days it may be a bit of classical or perhaps all from the same part of the sixties or the eighties. Occasionally I even come up to date with something modern. I’m even open to requests from my readers as I’m usually working better when I can sing along.( Only in my head as I don’t want the local dogs howling).
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • Candy Korman

      Blogging to Music! Gotta love it.
      Now, the question is what kind of music goes with writing murder mysteries? With science fiction! With historical romances….
      We could compile a treatise on it.

  3. I was the kid in high school who made mixed tapes for everything and then gave them cool names like Spavin simply because it was a cool word. I did make some really good playlists on my iPod classic, but when it wore out, I lost all of my playlists and haven’t remade them since. I had a 200 song one that was perfect for long drives. Just the right songs to keep my alert since I tend to doze off easily when I drive.

    • Candy Korman

      Oh my!
      You were a very cool kid!!!!
      I wrote a paper in 4th grade about Easter Island and I was listening to a particular record (vinyl, as I’m old) and I connect the two so completely that I half believed that the music and the giant statues were one and the same!

  4. Interesting thought. I write everything to music. I have an extensive collection that I have been actively adding to for much of my life. I don’t really mess with playlists and I don’t really care for radio. But I do have stations that I will use on iTunes radio from time to time. Most of what I listen to though is different bands based on my mood and many times what I am writing.

    Now here is where the interesting thought comes in. I think it could be interesting to list the song or songs I had playing when I wrote a particular story. Essentially this could share the frame of mind I was in while I was writing. Either that or it would really give people a view into my madness that they never thought to have. I do listen to some things you might never expect of me.

    Currently listening to : Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park (2010 album)