Thursday 28 November 2013

Music Helps Improve Your Writing

It's a bold claim I know, but music can help you improve your writing. I don't mean just by listening to music while you write, although I do find that it aids my concentration, no I mean that by examining how good music (of any genre) can help your writing get better.

The first requisite is that you want to improve your skill as a writer, that should be the goal for any writer. Like most devotions writing is a skill that can be learnt, but never truly mastered. I consider myself to be a decent writer, but there's always scope for getting better. If you've reached a level that requires no improvement then please share your secret!

Back to music, how exactly does music aid in writing?

Music does some things very well and it is these strengths that you can utilise as a writer. The first is the expression of emotion, music is one of the things in life that can touch the heart for good or bad. How does it do this? Musicians uses the tune itself and instrumentation to convey feeling (we'll come to lyrics shortly). As a simple example think of sombre music, it is sonorous with measured change.

With such music and heavy tones for instrumentation carries the emotions like grief or despair that weigh upon the heart, it describes the despair or the misery in a way beyond words. But not for a writer, listen to sad songs (start with instrumentals) and describe the sound that you hear and it's effect.

Music also speaks of happier times and you can use the same techniques to describe feelings of love and joy. A greater breadth of instrumental speaks of lighter things, but the same instrument can describe both light and dark in the same way that words can be used to paint a scene or a feeling. Listen to a variety of piano or any music from a single instrument, how does that same voice tell a tale so different from the last?

The attraction of music is more than just the tune, another layer can be added to make it a song. Here a writer treads more familiar ground, you craft words and words are what makes a song. But writing a song requires some specific traits and these traits can aid in writing different forms.

Song lyrics follow a certain structure, they also require economy and these are lessons that are worth learning. A song tends to focus on a particular event or feeling, everything the singer sings fixes upon that solitary point. A story or even a book will usually cover wider ground, but each instant within the story should be focused on what is happening at that given moment. Use economy to make your writing stronger, bloated writing slows the reader's enjoyment of the story.

Song lyrics have to follow a tune, it is part of the music of the song. Your writing doesn't have to follow a particular cadence, but it should sound pleasing when read. Words that have a rhythm to them will remain in the reader's mind more easily and linger there.


  1. Agreed 100%. My writing is influenced powerfully by music, particularly late Classical and early Romantic symphonies. My writing can be loosely classified as Romanticism anyway so the links are strong. Good post!

    1. Thanks, for period writing it's a big help getting into the feel of the time.

  2. I wrote my Macabre books listening to Victorian music. It was such a help with atmosphere. Great post Michael

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