Thoughts about writing, songs, and playlists

I’m currently writing a more theoretical post about the playlists and how their popularity and creation intersect with the writing process and how we consume and interact with media. But while that’s in the works, I wanted to give a few examples of what I’m talking about.

I’m one of those people who makes a playlist for everything. Multiple playlists for driving, a playlist each for my novel, for my short stories, as well as for my main characters. I can usually tell if a character of mine  is underdeveloped if I can’t think of how I would express that character’s development through music, even if the music I would associate with a character isn’t what I myself like. Hell, this blog got its name from a song by The Hush Sound that I listened to on a near-constant loop when I was writing “Magnolia” back in college.

To give a more widely-known example, I’ll go to Game of Thrones and give a few examples of songs that I associate with characters. The first one that comes to mind is “Rabbit Heart” by Florence + the Machine for Sansa Stark because of its general theme of disorientation and sacrifice. Especially the following lyrics because of the whole Lannister thing (I’ll try not to give out too many spoilers here).

This is a gift. It comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
Midas is king, and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight

“Eyes On Fire” by Blue Foundation works well for Daenerys Targaryen because of the general fire them as well as the reminder that it is a game of thrones that all of the main characters, Dany included, are playing:

I’m taking it slow
Feeding my flame
Shuffling the cards of your game
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace

And finally, for Joffrey Baratheon, the annoying, horrifying little sociopath that everyone loves to hate, there’s “Girl With One Eye” (also by Florence + the Machine), a dramatic monologue that is every bit as disturbing as you might expect it to be.

Since fan videos are also related to associating music with stories, I’ll leave you with a fan video (not mine, also has some violent/NSFW parts) for Game of Thrones. It’s set to Florence + the Machine’s “Seven Devils,” which I believe was also used in the show’s official promos:

Do you find yourself associating songs with characters/themes/moments in a text as you read? Do you use playlists or music to help you write? I’d love to hear about it in the comments…

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4 comments on “Thoughts about writing, songs, and playlists

  1. spudart says:

    I like how you make playlists for specific characters. As a designer, I have playlists according to the style of design I set out to create.

    • lnsouthgate says:

      That’s awesome! I’m similar, but for writing in my case. Mood/tone, genre, etc. all come in to play.

      What styles do you associate with different kinds/styles of design? Does subject matter come into it at all?

      • spudart says:

        I tend to be a boisterous energetic designer, so my typical playlists include dance music. When I need to produce a more quiet and somber design, Arvo Pärt comes in very handy.

        As far as subject matter goes… hmm, i suppose don’t build playlists based on the subject matter of the design. But I do have playlists of songs by subject matter like: a playlist for songs about croquet. Songs about scissors. Songs about Antarctica.

        Other sub-genre fun themes are Hand clapping songs, finger snapping songs, metal whistle songs. All my playlists are public and on spotify under my profile: http://open.spotify.com/user/spudart

  2. lnsouthgate says:

    Oh, cool. Right now I can see your profile and top 20 tracks, but I still have to click to “Get Spotify,” which I think I will do after I finish the blog post I’m writing (a playlist for a friend’s novel, actually).

    I have never played croquet (nor do I know much about Antarctica–scissors I have experience with, though!), so I’m looking forward to hear what songs you put in there. I have a lot of TV show/book/movie playlists, including the novel I’m writing, as well as others like “Abnormal Psychology,” “Southern Gothic,” “Panopticon,” “Love Birds and Hurricanes,” “Gym”…most of them have a loose narrative to them but also work on shuffle. I’m going to post more on here, and I’ll probably start adding the Spotify links to them here as well.

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