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Thought I’d mention some of the music that I enjoy listening to when I need to write a descriptive scene, have a peaceful background when I’m researching, or am writing in the evening and need to keep myself from getting too excitable. (I’m not an extreme morning person, but I am the type that falls asleep before 11 pm on non-game nights and is up by 6 am most days.)

Among my current favorites are the two albums featuring a collaboration between Brian Eno and Harold Budd:

The ethereal piano playing and ambient sound effects on these really evoke a contemplative mood. Makes me thing of beaches in autumn, forest streams, and so forth. I also love the track An Ending (Ascent) from Eno’s album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (listen to it at the link). I always visualize myself floating in space above the surface of the Earth as I listen to this piece, with the blue oceans and white clouds below me and the stars and void behind.

Another favorite of mine is Gustavo Santaolalla’s Ronroco. Excellent acoustic guitar compositions. You can hear the track Gaucho here. Santaolla also composes music for films. This music makes me think of the southern New Mexico landscape where I grew up.

From a very different part of the world, I’d like to mention an odd collection of folk songs by Scandanavia women that has a lot of tracks that serve as a great, moody background for writing certain scenes. It’s called Wizard Women of the North. My favorite song on this album has got to be “Heiemo og Nykkjen (Heiemo and the Water Sprite),” but I can’t find a version of it online sung by the same artist (Kirsten Bråten Berg). Here’s a sample of the album’s sound, the song “Vallåtar från Gammelboning (Herding Calls from Gammelboning, Sweden)” attributed to Susanne Rosenberg on the album.  {Not sure why the YouTube video creator calls this Witches Calls; maybe they know what’s actually being said.}

Finally, though the movie was more visual treat than engrossing story, I find Daft Punk’s soundtrack to the movie Tron to make for a good background when writing scenes that require a sense of grandeur or expansiveness. I particularly enjoy Finale. (I also like to throw a few of these songs into the background when running games in my irregularly scheduled sci-fi RPG campaign.)

Looking up, that seems like an odd gathering of songs, but I’m sure something like Pandora would identify the underlying musical DNA that makes this music appealing to me. Maybe later I’ll refer to some more reflective albums or else list some of the music I like to listen to when I’m working out or getting jazzed up to write scenes with a lot of energy. (That list is heavy on the hard rock and techno genres.)

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