I am almost always listening to music when I write. (The exception is that sometimes when I write in a coffee shop I’ll leave my earbuds in my bag. Of course, there’s almost always music playing in coffee shops, and it tends to mix well with the ambient noise of people coming and going.) Generally, I listen to music with no lyrics–either classical or electronic. Both get my creative juices flowing, albeit in different ways.

This week, I thought I’d share some of the sources I turn to for good music while writing. I have my trusty iPod, of course–a 160 Gb classic. There’s a shit ton of good writing music on it, including the classical masters (Haydn is my favorite), some great scores (like Braveheart and The Last of the Mohicans) and no small amount of big beat electronica. The Crystal Method takes the top spot in the last genre. But I like to mix things up with new and different music, and that usually means streaming something.

Here, then, are my favorite streaming sources for music to write to:

1. Songza

I’m a huge fan of Songza, mostly because it takes an entirely unconventional and new approach to selecting your music. The app (available online or on your mobile, as are all three of the sources listed here) knows what day of the week and time of day it is. Based on those two pieces of information, it suggests genres and playlists, and its suggestions are often spot on.

In fact, I like Songza so much I did a full review of it over on my non-fiction blog a while back. Click here to read all about it.

2. Slacker

Slacker’s advantage is that it offers a lot of preset stations based on any conceivable genre of music. There are multiple classical stations–The Champion’s Theme, featuring songs from superhero movies, and Video Game Music are both fun stations to check out in addition to their more standard classical stations. Also, Slacker includes a genre of music called “Chill”. In spite of the 90’s feel of the genre’s name, there are a few good stations housed under this section, including Chill [Non-Voc]. It makes for good, distraction-free background music with an Ocean’s Eleven kind of feel.

3. Pandora

And, how could I leave Pandora out of the mix? The strength of Pandora is also its weakness–you have to build the stations, yourself. This allows you to tailor exactly the kind of music you want to listen to, but it can also be a time suck. (You can build custom stations on Slacker, too, and, like Slacker, Pandora also has some pre-built genre stations, though I don’t like them as well as Slacker’s.)

I’ve been using Pandora for a while, so I have some nice stations created, including one that is almost all Spanish guitar and one that does a good job of mimicking the indie feel of the kind of music played in Starbucks. If you’re new to Pandora, expect to have to spend some time telling it what you want to listen to before your stations will deliver the kind of music you want. That can be a fun process, but, like I said, it takes time.

And, there you have it. That’s how I fuel my writing time, music-wise. If you have another good writing music source, please mention it in the comments below.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

4 Responses to music

  1. Jenni says:

    I don’t know about writing music, but I have music going all day long at work. Because my last office frowned strongly on us using excessive bandwidth for playing music, I just brought my iPod dock to work and it runs on random all day long. Some days I switch over to a playlist and occasionally I have to skip a song for whatever reason, but music is a necessity to me when working. Silence makes me crazy.


  2. Jenni says:

    and I know….I totally didn’t answer your question at all. oh well….


    • dex says:

      I used to use an iPod at my day job, as well. However, with a smart phone, that stopped being a problem, and each of the services above has a free app. 🙂


  3. Jenni says:

    true….and I’ve used a couple of the apps you mentioned – just not while I’m working. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: