The Best Music to Write By: Give Us Your Recommendations

Writ­ing is hard. It’s hard to begin, hard to con­tin­ue, hard to fin­ish. To write suc­cess­ful­ly and con­sis­tent­ly requires an alchem­i­cal com­bi­na­tion of dis­ci­pline and inspi­ra­tion so per­son­al that read­ing advice on the sub­ject amounts to watch­ing some­one else die to learn how it’s done. And while it often feels enlight­en­ing to read about the habits of, say, Stein­beck or Austen, their meth­ods are non-trans­fer­able. You’ve got to find your own way. So it is with writ­ing to music. It’s always there in the back­ground, goad­ing you on qui­et­ly. Not every­one writes to music; not every­one can. But a good many do, includ­ing Wired con­trib­u­tor Steve Sil­ber­man who calls the prac­tice one of many rit­u­als writ­ers use “to evoke that elu­sive flow of inspi­ra­tion.”

Sil­ber­man just wrote a piece for Neu­roTribes in which he sur­veyed ten authors on their favorite music to write by. One of Silberman’s own choic­es, Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way (above), is one I’m steal­ing. With its bril­liant assem­blage of musi­cians and haunt­ing mood­i­ness it sets the per­fect tone for my process. Also, there’s no singing. Like Sil­ber­man, I can’t com­pete with a wise, wit­ty lyri­cist (he men­tions Elvis Costel­lo, I pre­fer Mor­ris­sey). In Sil­ber­man’s piece, John Schwartz, a New York Times reporter, lis­tens to noth­ing. Jane Hirschfield, a chan­cel­lor of the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets, likes David Byrne, Dylan’s Mod­ern Times, and Gillians Welch’s The Har­row and the Har­vest. Wired con­tribut­ing edi­tor David Wol­man makes a playlist of most­ly indie-pop songs enti­tled “Write the Book!” His main cri­te­ri­on for the songs he choos­es: DO NOT BE BORING! My default writ­ing music is exem­pli­fied by Aus­tralian three-piece instru­men­tal rock band Dirty Three (below).

So now it’s your turn, read­ers. Do you write to music? If so, what is it? What artists/composers/albums help you find your rhythm and why? Can you stand lyrics in the music you write by or no? Leave your selec­tions in the com­ments. On Mon­day, we’ll com­pile them in an arti­cle and leave you with a great Open Cul­ture playlist. Whether you find some­thing you can steal or not, it should be a fun exer­cise.

*See our fol­low-up post with a list of your favorites here

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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  • James Neal says:

    Miles Davis “In a Silent Way” is def­i­nite­ly high on the list as well as Duke Elling­ton’s “Mon­ey Jun­gle” and John Coltrane’s “Cres­cent” …

  • Bach, Mozart, Arvo Part, Bri­an Eno, Scott Walk­er’s scenic stuff, Boris, any­thing Glenn Gould ever touched, Philip Glass, La Monte Young, Ter­ry Riley, Giac­in­to Scel­si, ‘Love on the Beat’ by Serge Gains­bourg (Album), Hank Williams, Jack­son C. Frank, Alessan­dro Scar­lat­ti, Gus­tav Mahler, Gus­tav Mahler, Gus­tav Mahler.

  • Markus says:

    White noise. Or to be more spe­cif­ic, Brown Noise from It gives you a sta­ble, sooth­ing sound that becomes invis­i­ble after a while and iso­lates you com­plete­ly.

    (No affil­i­a­tion, I just think it’s the best gen­er­a­tor around. It’s free, too!)

    Any kind of music is just dis­tract­ing while writ­ing.

  • Joseph says:

    I often write to Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musi­cians, on repeat, as well as Philip Glass’ Music in 12 Parts and assort­ed oth­er min­i­mal­ist clas­sics.

    While com­plet­ing my mas­ter’s the­sis, I added Deep Mag­ic’s Illu­mi­nat­ed Offer­ing to the playlist.

  • Dan Colman says:

    Well, this week it’s Mark Knopfler’s Pri­va­teer­ing for me.

  • komiska says:

    While draw­ing or writ­ing, the best thing to lis­ten to ( for me) is of course M Davis above ;) ‚and also
    “Lone­ly Woman“by Mod­ern Jazz Quar­tet:

    Glenn Gould’s Bach inter­pre­ta­tions:

    and any­thing by Bill Evans :)

    BTW — You make a won­der­ful web­site — please nev­er stop!

  • Emma Gray Munthe says:

    It depends on what has to be writ­ten, and how quick it has to be done — but usu­al­ly one of these:

    - The Tron Lega­cy sound­track

    - Mat­tias Bär­jed’s Call Girl-sound­track.

    - Jean Michel Jar­re’s Equinoxe.

    - Miles Davis Ascenseur pour l’echafaud sound­track.

    - Lone wolf’s theme from the Shogun Assas­sin sound­track, over and over.

    - Some­thing by Lalo Schifrin, prefer­ably the music from Dirty Har­ry.

    Oth­er times it is Neu!, Kraftwerk, Vival­di or Prokofiev that does the trick.

  • Barry Graham says:

    When writ­ing fic­tion, I lis­ten to The Chron­ic by Dr. Dre, any­thing by Wu Tang Clan or Snoop Dog, any­thing by Cur­tis May­field. More than twen­ty years ago, I wrote my first nov­el while lis­ten­ing to Bob Dylan’s album Desire, which informed the tone to such an extent that the book’s title comes from a line in one of the songs.

    When writ­ing non­fic­tion: Philip Glass, Kro­nos Quar­tet, Lon­na Kel­ley, Greg Brown, Leonard Cohen, Son­ic Youth, The White Stripes.

  • Martin Q says:

    Con­tem­po­rary Swedish music is by far my favourite!

  • mxyzptlk says:

    I’m all about the instru­men­tal music — there’s already enough voic­es com­pet­ing for atten­tion in your head when you’re writ­ing. But it can’t be too bubbly/poppy, nor so fast or com­plex that it draws atten­tion away from the work at hand.

    A few that got me through grad school:

    Tor­toise — TNT, and if need­ed, Mil­lions Now Liv­ing Will Nev­er Die. The lat­ter seems to be the hip kids album of choice, but TNT is the one that does the trick for me almost every time (and is com­pos­er John McEn­tire’s favorite). Seems like you can hear some­thing new in it on every lis­ten.

    Glob­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions — 76:14. The title is the length of the album. It’s kind of an old ambi­ent clas­sic by Mark Pritchard and Tom Mid­dle­ton (Pritchard’s since done some reg­gae work as Trou­ble­man), and as a clas­sic, some of it sounds a bit dat­ed. But most of it sounds weird­ly fresh and unique, like found sound in var­i­ous inter­na­tion­al lan­guages.

    Boards of Cana­da — The Camp­fire Head­phase. It always struck me as a good com­pli­ment to TNT, and puts me in the same kind of con­tem­pla­tive head­space as dri­ving an open high­way late at night.

    The Irre­sistible Force — It’s Tomor­row Already: A British DJ (Mix­mas­ter Mor­ris) who did three exper­i­ments in the 1990’s under this moniker. I guess you could call them exper­i­ments; he plays with found sound in a way to cre­ate kind of son­ic nar­ra­tives. Much of that found sound con­sists of talk­ing, which could become obtru­sive for writ­ing, but it’s not too much and some­how this is one record that for me where the (lit­tle) talk­ing nev­er inter­fered.

    Bonobo — Sweet­ness, Dial M for Mon­key, and It Came from the Sea. These tend to work bet­ter for me when I have a clear idea of what I’m just to get on the page, and I need to just crank through it. There’s lots of inter­est­ing change-ups, a few sur­pris­ing moments/melodies, and it’s a bit more up-tem­po.

    Final­ly, you can nev­er go wrong with some good old mid-20th cen­tu­ry library music, espe­cial­ly the Ital­ian com­posers — Piero Pic­cioni and Arman­do Tra­vaioli are two I like.

  • Beardonaut says:

    Ancients — Star Show­ers on the Euphrates works any­time. Instru­men­tal postrock. For late nights I go with any­thing by Neu­ro­sis. Repet­i­tive riffs and pound­ing drums.

  • David says:

    Based on the con­tri­bu­tions to my blog’s Book Notes author playlist series, writ­ers large­ly fall into two camps:

    “I can­not lis­ten to music while I write”
    “I lis­ten to music with­out lyrics while I write”

    I am of the sec­ond group, lis­ten­ing to clas­si­cal music (late­ly a lot of Arvo Part) or instru­men­tal rock (the new God­speed You! Black Emper­or album) while writ­ing.

  • I love these ideas. How­ev­er, I can­not write with music on in the back­ground. It gets me so dis­tract­ed. I’m just one of those peo­ple who can’t read or write to music. I just get sucked into it. (I do, how­ev­er love to cre­ate and clean to it!)

    It is true though, that it does help oth­ers to focus and even to inspire them as they work. So, I appre­ci­ate these ideas to poten­tial­ly use in my class­room.

  • I’ve recent­ly dis­cov­ered a music app for the ipad called Scape.

    It’s by Bri­an Eno and Peter Chil­vers, and is ide­al for cre­at­ing slow­ly evolv­ing ‘sound scapes’ to play in the back­ground.

    Just enough to soft­en the city nois­es and the hum­ming of the house­hold machin­ery.

  • Jim Smith says:

    Third Stone From The Sun by Jimi Hen­drix. Take a brisk Sun­day morn­ing say about 7 or 8 AM, cup of cof­fee, jack­et and lis­ten. Few things com­pare.

  • Anne says:

    Mozart — requiem


    Michael jack­son — Dan­ger­ous album

  • Subjuntivo says:

    For some time now I have been using dif­fer­ent chan­nels from when­ev­er I need to do some seri­ous writ­ting, not just a sim­ple, quick post.
    I used that for my first nov­el, and I’m using that to write my sec­ond nov­el. I found it must be some­thing I can­not sing to, or cling to, or fol­low eas­i­ly, and it’s way bet­ter if there are no lyrics, or if I sim­ply can’t under­stand them.
    Mozart is a great option two, bbut I tend to get acr­ried away and lose focus…

    Great great site, btw.


  • Sophie Beauchamp says:

    Belong — Octo­ber Lan­guage.

  • Eve Daniels says:

    Jazz, elec­tron­ic or clas­si­cal, min­i­mal lyrics. One tried-and-true favorite is David Holmes’ “Let’s Get Killed.”

  • Any­thing by the ital­ian pro­gres­sive rock band “Gob­lin”, spe­cial­ly the sound­track for “Sus­piria”

  • Chi Sherman says:

    Tori Amos’ “Lit­tle Earth­quakes” has long been a fave. The pow­er­ful lyrics and mas­ter­ful piano play­ing ener­gize me. Some­how, I can both write and sing along. When words fail me, I can get lost in some ‘air piano’ play­ing at the edge of my lap­top. :)

  • Jelica says:

    Japan and David Syl­vian, Masa­mi Tsuchiya, Riuichi Sakamo­to — always put me in the mood for writ­ing.

  • Kevin Maness says:

    I lis­ten to Glenn Gould play­ing Bach. Often the Gold­berg Vari­a­tions, but oth­er stuff as well. There are oth­er types of music I’ll turn to as well, but Gould and Bach are what I keep com­ing back to.

  • Easy Peasy, my answer is Ami­ina — Kurr, I’ve writ­ten the best stuff of my life while lis­ten­ing to that album♥

  • what a great arti­cle top­ic…
    i can’t write to any­thing with words. i end up lis­ten­ing and then can’t find my own voice…i often lis­ten to enya for when i need to feel relaxed and mal­ib for when i still need to feel like i’m part of the liv­ing people…especially, say when i’m work­ing on a fri­day night, like right now.…

  • Baroque by Bach, Han­del, Tele­mann, Corel­li.

  • Michael West says:

    John Cage, 4’33

  • @Michael West, can you rec­om­mend a record­ing?

  • Jack Derricourt says:

    The Doors — Live in Detroit 1970
    This boot­leg has lyrics, but the whirling chaos pro­duced as the band plays an hour beyond their slat­ed time swal­lows up any dis­trac­tion; the over­all effect becomes one of atmos­phere — it’s per­fect to burn the mid­night oil to.

  • Maria Browning says:

    I lis­ten to many kinds of music, but for writ­ing I stick to clas­si­cal. Spe­cial favorites include Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, Bach vio­lin sonatas and par­ti­tas, Mozart piano con­cer­ti, and var­i­ous works by Sibelius and Shostakovich. Some­times I lis­ten to Car­nat­ic music, but only instru­men­tals. I can’t bear to lis­ten to any kind of vocal music when I write, even though my pref­er­ence any oth­er time is usu­al­ly for singing.

  • denise buelteman says:

    coltrane coltrane, and a lit­tle coltrane

  • Pasi Kirkkopelto says:

    I do my writ­ing often lis­ten­ing to Anouar Bra­hem: le Pas du chat noir or Michael Hedges: Aer­i­al bound­aries
    instru­men­tal and easy on the ear but by no means back­ground music — clear, artic­u­lat­ed and cre­ative just like writ­ing should be.

    Visu­al Art — drawing&painting : Chris Whit­ley: soft and dan­ger­ous shores.

  • Natalie says:

    Well, I’m no writer, but when I’m study­ing, I tend to not like music with singing either.
    I always go for some good down tem­po jazz clas­sics, like Miles “Kind of Blue” and Coltrane’s “Blue Train” — I mean, you don’t want fast tem­po bebop when you’re read­ing, right?

    I also like to lis­ten to some hard­core rock­’n roll BEFORE study­ing.
    For that, some AC/DC always fits per­fect­ly!

  • Luke says:

    Strange as this sounds I like a blast of noise to work to. Some­thing like David S. Ware, Charles Min­gus’ ‘The Black Saint and the Sin­ner Lady’, or Rah­saan Roland Kirk’s ‘Pre­pare Thy­self to Deal with a Mir­a­cle’.
    David Bowie’s albums from Sta­tion to Sta­tion — Scary Mon­sters.
    Any­thing by Bach, Mahler Sym­phonies, Fau­re’s piano pieces.
    Death Grips.
    Nina Simone
    Wash­ing­ton Philips

  • Leo Marques says:

    The In a Silent Way com­plete ses­sions are some of my favorite study music. I also lis­ten to a lot of EARTH, espe­cial­ly their lat­er albums (from “Hex” on). Once in a while I lis­ten to some Bri­an Eno, but that tends to make me sleepy.

  • I agree with Markus, Eliza Peter­son, and espe­cial­ly Michael West (4:33) above.

    Hav­ing been a com­pos­er before I was a writer, I find music a mad­den­ing dis­trac­tion from play­ing Tetris with syl­la­bles. If things get too qui­et, I just keep talk­ing to myself loud­ly enough to keep the tin­ni­tus from dis­tract­ing as well.

    But when I’m cook­ing or clean­ing, I’ll take any­thing — late­ly it’s been James Bond. All of it, all of them, and espe­cial­ly Adele’s Sky­fall. Yum. I can do me some dish­es.

  • miko says:

    I can’t remem­ber how it aligned itself, but indi­an clas­si­cal ragas work great. Ravi Shanka. Ali Akbar Khan. I’ve slow­ly amassed a nice col­lec­tion on vinyl. Whether its writ­ing or read­ing, some­how this music is like nitro, boost­ing my out­put and con­nect­ing my synaps­es at an exceed­ing­ly notice­able rate.

  • I like writ­ing to evoca­tive instru­men­tal music–William Ack­er­man, Michael Hedges, (like Pasi above) Native Amer­i­can flute of R. Car­los Nakai. Often put on Deuter “sta­tion” on Pan­do­ra. Writ­ing dra­mat­ic work I, like Joseph, play Steve Reich, and also Ter­ry Reil­ly. There’s a heart­break­ing score called Titan­ic by Gavin Bryars, which has also unlocked words for me. Writ­ing music for me works best when it is a bit loose, but not with­out struc­ture. Thank you for all these great new ideas!

  • Peter says:

    The box set of Bri­an Eno instru­men­tals, qui­et­ly.

  • Zuzana says:

    Late­ly it’s been Joni Mitchel­l’s Heji­ra, although I admit I tend to get dis­tract­ed by its poet­ry. It gets a lit­tle frus­trat­ing when you’re writ­ing prose (all the more if it sucks and you are aware of it). But I can whole­heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend Bill Evan­s’s album You Must Believe in Spring. Any­thing by Evans, real­ly.

  • Craig Wilson says:

    Tan­ger­ine Dream, Mog­wai or Tor­toise is good for me.

  • Myriam says:

    Last year I dis­cov­ered the Dan­ish group Efterk­lang’s EP “Under Giant Trees”. It takes me to an oth­er lev­el. I don’t under­stand why and I don’t care. All I know is that it brings me to an oth­er world deep inside of me…It makes me tell what I real­ly want to tell.

  • Great ques­tion! I do write to music but it real­ly depends on the genre I’m writ­ing. When I was work­ing on my first nov­el, an urban fantasy/paranormal sto­ry, I lis­tened to to dark clas­si­cal music. I want to say baroque peri­od music but real­ly it was Wyn­ton Marsalis baroque music for trum­pets that I reached for first. The next it was Johann Pachel­bel’s Canon D . I also had this Maes­tra Rachel Wor­by’s Wheel­ing sym­pho­ny CD that I lis­tened to while I wrote but again the dark­er the music the bet­ter. I’m lis­ten­ing to Canon D right now and it is bring­ing tears to my eyes. I for­got that feel­ing. The worst music for me to write is today’s con­tem­po­rary R n B “love” songs. They are so unin­spir­ing that I have to turn off the radio when I want to write.

  • Enzo says:

    Piaz­zol­la, Martha Arg­erich, Luis Sali­nas, those are my choic­es late­ly. Instru­men­tal, qui­et, but also inter­est­ing and intel­li­gent music in case I’m not ful­ly con­cen­trat­ed.

  • Erik Eblana says:

    Chopin Piano con­cer­tos or the haunt­ing music of Enya. Also lis­ten­ing to Span­ish songstress Cham­bao can ignite some won­der­ful feel­ings and mem­o­ries.

  • seray says:

    It depends on my mood
    Bach-Sleep­ers Wake,Yasmin Levy-Naci En Alamo. these are the most played songs when I write.

  • Jidda Ahmadu says:

    Depends on the tone of what I’m writ­ing and my mood, I guess. Some­times it’s Enya oth­er times it’s Nir­vana, Staind or We are the Fall­en. Even JPop artists like Kala­fi­na and Uta­da Hikaru make the list. When I’m feel­ing pret­ty eth­nic, Oumou San­gare’s albums stay on repeat.

  • Danielle says:

    Any­thing on Jonathan Schwartz’s radio pro­gram! (Amer­i­can stan­dards, Frank Sina­tra, etc)

  • Candiss says:

    I’m fond of Amon Tobin, whose work is large­ly instru­men­tal. I enjoy most of his work, but late­ly The Foley Room has been my favorite.

    Recent­ly and belat­ed­ly, I’ve dis­cov­ered the Beast­ie Boys’ 2007 Gram­my-win­ning instru­men­tal album, The Mix-Up. Bet­ter late than nev­er!

  • J. says:

    Strong bass, but soft music. No lyrics, or only short phras­es (lyrics dis­tract me). More rythm than melody. Slow cel­lo.

  • 5-Track says:

    it depends on what I’m writ­ing. i try to find some­thing that suits the mood. elec­tric Miles Davis (Aghar­ta, for exam­ple) is often a favorite. Lee ‘Scratch’ Per­ry works for some things. live Grate­ful Dead from rough­ly 1972–1978. spacey instru­men­tals in gen­er­al, stuff that encour­ages free and loose flow of thought with­out demand­ing too much fore­ground atten­tion. lat­er records by Earth (Hex, Bees, Angels/Demons). some­thing with a feel­ing of propul­sion, tho does­n’t have to be a steady beat. or some­times just the rain is nice, when we have any.

  • ShortHop says:

    Met­al Fin­gers — Spe­cial Herbs and Spices 0–9

  • KJHargan says:

    Sur­prised more haven’t men­tioned Beethoven, specif­i­cal­ly 7th Sym­pho­ny 2nd move­ment. When the writ­ing has to be dynam­ic, this piece I play on auto-repeat.
    I know his work can be strong­ly melod­ic, like 5th symp. 1st mvmt. But, for me, the rest of his sym­phonies, includ­ing piano con­cer­tos, are very active, with­out being par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­tract­ing.

  • Joanne says:

    Clas­si­cal. Bach. Lara Saint John. Debussy.

  • KM Zafari says:

    I real­ly can’t explain why, but Enig­ma’ s album “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!” Just does some­thing to my brain, espe­cial­ly “Beyond the Invis­i­ble” and “TNT for the Brain”. For some rea­son, it qui­ets my mind — it shuts off that sec­ondary voice and allows me to focus. I don’t know that I would nor­mal­ly lis­ten to it under reg­u­lar cir­cum­stances, though.

    Some­times, cer­tain songs will trig­ger images for me. Notably for me is “Vio­let Hill” by Cold­play and “All We Have Is Now” by The Flam­ing Lips.

    It depends on the mood I’m in and what I’m try­ing to write, espe­cial­ly if it’s in a dif­fer­ent era.

    I love opera and clas­si­cal music, lots of stuff from the 60s and 70s. Those are all good for writ­ing. How about Etta James, Elton John, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Gar­funkel, The Moody Blues, John­ny Cash, John­ny Math­is…

    Lots of Span­ish and Ara­bic music as well.

    If I were to write some­thing more con­tem­po­rary, I might put on rap or R&B. If I’m in a sil­ly mood and feel like danc­ing in my chair while I write, Har­ry Bela­fonte, dis­co, or 80s stuff.

    But that Enig­ma album… Some­times I can’t write with­out it. It’s like my own per­son­al binky.

  • Esther Lopez says:

    Chopin Noc­turnes. Thank you from Barcelona!

  • Alban Elfed says:

    Atelecine, Lust­mord, Coil, Demdike Stare… These are a few that we use to help sat­u­rate the air with the “occult” vibe that we like to work with.

  • KM Zafari says:

    Lots of the clas­si­cal com­posers have been cov­ered, but I feel I should also men­tion Erik Satie. His work is some­times haunt­ing, espe­cial­ly Gymno­pe­dies.

  • dirk says:

    Per­son­al­ly the per­fect mood for me is a some­what melan­cholic with a dash of hope and roman­ti­cism.

    - Bill evans trio work
    — bach cel­lo suites
    — kind of blue
    — tord gus­tavsen trio
    — anour bra­hem
    — beethoven sym­phonies and piano con­cert 3
    — chopin noc­turnes
    Etc etc…

    Nice idea though — look­inf for­ward to see­ing the list

  • joan says:

    i’ve been a obsessed with dub…it start­ed with reg­gae, then after being turned on to dub, it is the only music that helps me focus and write.
    try augus­tus pablo, lee ‘scratch’ per­ry, king tub­by.
    for more con­tem­po­rary reggae/dub sound, try SOJA, or groun­da­tion.…
    seri­ous­ly chill. incred­i­bly flu­id and filled with eros.

  • ZIP — pseu­do­nym for dj Thomas Franz­mann, a Ger­man con­tem­po­rary com­pos­er.

  • Daniel Toschläger says:

    Ornithol­o­gy from Char­lie Park­er and Orig­i­nal Nut­tah from UK Apachi and ShyFX

  • Alice Coltrane, “Aval­on” by Roxy Music, Kei­th Jar­rett, Lee Mor­gan, “Won­der­wall Music” by George Har­ri­son, Mar­tin Den­ny, “Sketch­es of Spain” by Miles Davis…

  • Magwynnan says:

    Jean Luc Pon­ty

  • Gaile Wotherspoon says:

    What I lis­ten to depends on what I’m writ­ing or what stage the writ­ing is at. Some­times it’s 6os rock and roll, some­times it’s opera or clas­si­cal tunes by Mozart or Bach, even a lit­tle Ver­di, and some­times (though not often) it’s a lit­tle Blues. I don’t mind singing as it adds to the mood and tone, I don’t lis­ten much to the lyrics. I’m not big on jazz as I find the rhythm and tem­po changes to be too dis­tract­ing.

  • Paul says:

    I get most of inspi­ra­tion not from songs filled with vocals and metaphors but from melodies — and here the choice is big: from McCart­ney’s “Oceans King­dom” and Ludovi­co Ein­audi’s “Divenire” to unknown com­posers at online pod­casts.
    As singing seems to disc­tract me, I pre­fer songs in lan­guages which I do not under­stand — so that I did­n’t have to imag­ine what’s hap­pen­ing in a song’s plot while lis­ten­ing to it. I guess, African music is great — Lady­smith Black Mam­bazo or Insin­gizi.
    As long as I do not know Ice­landic, the band named Ars­tidir is quite good, too.

  • A Love Supreme by Coltrane or Ascenseur pour l’echafaud by Miles Davis hands down!

  • Cèsar Augusto says:


    Brasil­ian Music
    Vini­cius de Moraes e Toquin­ho

  • Debby Hanoka says:

    Spe­cif­ic music to write by? I nev­er real­ly gave it much thought. I just cue up iTunes and put it on shuf­fle. Songs range from the 1950s to Recent­ly Released. In oth­er words, I like to be sur­prised. :-)

  • John says:

    I have been lis­ten­ing to Two Steps From Hell. Here is one of their songs:

  • Paul says:

    I don’t write music…but to do so is to be inspired and to be inspired is to be not of this world! To write a song is like a droplet in the ocean & all the dif­fer­ent forms of music, span­ning time…the ocean itself. I may not know all but man, any­time is a right time for music! As Mar­ley put it very well indeed…“One thing good about music…when it hits you feel no pain.” As for now, It feels good to drift off to the love­ly notes and music of Kei­th Jar­ret­t’s ‘Sun Bear Con­certs in Japan.’

  • LarryHeart says:

    Hi there!
    As for me, I do not know, which music will exact­ly help you to write. I tried to ana­lyze this ques­tion and under­stood that there’s no exact answer.
    But I know which music won’t help you:

    1. Emo­tion­al­ly over­whelm­ing music — it takes too much of your atten­tion.
    2. Depres­sive music — it does­n’t seem to help make things bet­ter.
    3. Dance music is also not rec­om­mend­ed because it makes you con­stant­ly think of danc­ing and fun.

    But still, some folks say, that I’m not right and items list­ed above work fine for them.
    This is why I’ve cre­at­ed http://c‑ — a web­site where you can lis­ten to dif­fer­ent playlists to set up the right atmo­spere.
    No restric­tions or lim­its: just keep search­ing and you will find the way to help your­self with writ­ing.

  • Maddie says:

    As I am writ­ing an action-packed fan­ta­sy I love lis­ten­ing to Run Boy Run — Instru­men­tal by: Wood­kid I pre­fer instru­men­tal songs that get you in tone with what you’re writ­ing about. I think that there are no rules to what songs help you write as long as you like it and it helps you put words on a page.

  • Caos says:

    Since I have ADHD, to write I need some­thing that stim­u­lates me, like The Cure, Pat­ti Smith… and VERY loud :S

  • Kenya J. Bird says:

    I feel more com­fort­able in com­pos­ing songs with out vocals. I’m not pro­fes­sion­al at it, just for fun & mind relax­ing, I like to write lyrics & com­pose songs for my friends & fam­i­ly events. It feels like heav­en when you are at silence zone area with a soft & rhyth­mic music, a pen & gui­tar, miles away from the busy streets… Or some time use white noise to cre­ate vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment ( White noise is vir­tu­al sounds like sound of rain, back­ground sound of a cof­fee shop… ), For this I use . This also help to improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty & mind peace.

  • Sam says:

    Hero by Fam­i­ly of the Year is a good song for writ­ing.

  • Jock Crang says:

    Best for me when I have a dead­line is Moon­dog — “The Viking of Sixth Avenue” it’s clas­si­cal music with native amer­i­can beats and a lit­tle jazz thrown in. I gen­er­al­ly don’t like albums with lyrics, but if it’s immer­sive enough like Beck­’s “Morn­ing Phase” who cares. My top six are at

  • M says:

    Any­thing from Death Cab for Cutie real­ly. It’s low key, but lyri­cal. Oth­er bands/artists like it are:
    ‑The Album Leaf
    ‑The xx
    ‑The Tem­per Trap
    I also like the Plan­ets by Holst, The Civ­il Wars, He is We, MGMT, Rober­to Cac­cia­pag­i­la, and Agnes Obel.
    The Rolling Stones are also good, but I espe­cial­ly like writ­ing to Beast of Bur­den, Gimme Shel­ter, Sym­pa­thy for The Dev­il, I can’t get No Sat­is­fac­tion, Sis­ter Mor­phine and Dead Flow­ers.
    Also check out the Cold War Kids. They’re pret­ty good.
    Hope this helps.

  • hildagarde von bingo says:

    Claude Bolling spe­cial­ly with Jean-Pierre Ram­pal

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