Whenever I’m writing, I have to listen to music. Usually, the music I’m listening to depends on what I’m writing. I prefer to listen to instrumental songs, songs sung in different languages, songs where I can’t really understand exactly what they’re saying, or songs where I know the lyrics so well, I won’t really register the words. I do this so the lyrics won’t distract me from writing. I find that if I’m writing poetry, plays, or something really dialogue heavy, it’s easier for me to listen to instrumentals, but if I’m doing something crafty or crocheting or something like that, I can listen to anything.
So whether you’re painting, studying lines for a play, or writing, I encourage you to try creating while listening to some instrumental music. Here are some of my favorites:
“The River Flows in You” – Yiruma
I love listening to piano ballads when I’m writing. All Yiruma is good; I can just put on one of his albums, and I’m good to go. But this is definitely my favorite of his.
“Chandelier” – String Quartet Tribute to Sia
I love these string quartet tributes. The Radiohead and Bjork ones are some of my favorites. But this version of “Chandelier” always gives me goosebumps and may be my favorite instrumental song ever.
“Souvlaki Space Station” – Slowdive
Although not technically purely instrumental, as with many Slowdive songs, the vocals here sound more like another instrument than actual vocals. One of the things I love about Slowdive is how layered their music is, and the vocal melodies are just another layer. Slowdive is great if you’re creating something dreamy or spacey.
“Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” – Smashing Pumpkins
This is the first instrumental song on a rock album that I remember falling in love with. It kind of works as an intro to the album, but it also stands on its own as a great instrumental track.
“Last Dance” – Sarah McLachlan
This song is nostalgic, bittersweet, and a little haunting. Just as the Smashing Pumpkins tune works as a great intro to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, this song is a great outro to Surfacing.
“The Sleeping Beauty: No. 18. Entr’acte” – Tchaikovsky
I have a deep love for Tchaikovsky and this song from his ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, which is also sometimes featured in The Nutcracker, is definitely my favorite piece of music he’s ever composed. (Trivia: This song is also meant to be the song that’s playing in We Own the Sky when Sylvia and Vincent are watching a ballet rehearsal in Paris.)
“Untitled 4” – Sigur Ros
Though Sigur Ros is also not technically instrumental and you may think he is singing in a different language, Sigur Ros also uses vocals as another instrument. He’s not really even singing words in any language although sometimes it sounds like they could be words. This is my favorite song by them.
“Hallelujah” – Instrumental Cover
I’m obsessed with this instrumental version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” I found on YouTube. And that’s saying something because when I used to go to open mic nights every week, I heard approximately 8,000 people cover this song. Now, the only acceptable versions to me are Leonard Cohen’s and Jeff Buckley’s. And I love this instrumental version.
“Balcony Scene” – Craig Armstrong
Anyone who was 11 or 12 or however old I was when this movie came out has a special place in their heart for this soundtrack. This is one of my favorite instrumental songs on the soundtrack. Movie scores are great to create to, though. Pick your favorite.
Low-Fi Hip Hop Beats
This isn’t really just one song, but it’s more like a radio station on YouTube that goes on forever. I put this one as background music often when I’m working, but it would also be great to write to, I think.
So there you have it. Put on some instrumental songs, and write, paint, draw, act, create.