5 Albums You Should Listen to While Writing

by Treehouse Editors

M.G. Hammond

We are all aware of the drastic effect music can have on our moods and the way we experience any given moment. For instance, when watching a film, a lot of the emotional weight is carried by the musical score that accompanies a scene. The correct soundtrack can make all the difference in how much the audience invests in a character, believes an actor’s emotional portrayal, or perceives the tone of a particular moment on screen. This is why I believe the right music can be an incredibly helpful tool for any creative process. For the purposes of this article, however, I’d like to offer a short list of albums that I have found to be particularly motivational for me when I’m writing. This list is by no means all inclusive, and is mostly comprised of instrumental music (because as a vocalist I tend to get terribly distracted by lyrics), but I hope it will assist you in choosing the best soundtrack to your next writing endeavor.

  1. Largo – Brad Mehldau: This album proves that jazz is not dead, and if you somehow disagree after listening to it, I’m sorry, but we just can’t be friends. Mehldau is a jazz pianist for the modern generation, incorporating traditional technique with fresh, improvised melodies. If you’re in a laid-back mood and ready to create some memorable material, you’re bound to pull together some characters that are just as intrinsically syncopated and original as the tracks on this album. And for the Radiohead fans out there (me!), Mehldau does an amazing variation of Paranoid Android.
  2. In A Space Outta Sound – Nightmares On Wax: When you listen to the relaxed, sensual creations of DJ George Evelyn, you will honestly feel like one of the cool kids. Influenced by soul, hip-hop, and blues, Evelyn layers diverse samples over original beats and loops to create genuinely unique tracks. He states, “Today’s music is inspired by whatever has gone on before.” This, of course, can also be said about today’s literature (or any art form, really). Play this album the next time you sit down to write and you won’t believe how much you’ll get done.
  3. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone – Explosions in the Sky: If you’re itching to get in touch with your more dramatic side, this is the album for you. Generally considered post-rock, Explosions in the Sky has also been described as a “crescendocore” band, which is apparently a genre of music (that sounds a bit more kickass than post-rock). In any case, each song on this album moves gracefully through a narrative arc guaranteed to help you produce a story full of adventure and epicness.
  4. Violin Concerto/Prelude and Dance from Akhnaten/Company – Philip Glass: Glass is a composer who gives me faith that the days of the symphony are not over. He is very prolific, having written everything from operas to film scores. Listening to this album may inspire you to explore some traditional forms through your own modern lens, just as Glass flawlessly blends a heartrending romantic style with contemporary minimalist structure.
  5. Classics – Ratatat: This band is just plain fun. Mostly consisting of guitar and bass, these electronically influenced songs are full of energy and catchy as hell. Actually, just to warn you, when I play this album I sometimes forget I am supposed to be writing and instead just feel compelled to dance.