Monday, January 23, 2017

My "Cloaked" Playlist

I'm getting sooooooooo close to finishing my first draft of "Cloaked," my western reimagining of the Little Red Riding Hood story.  The final showdown is behind me, and I just might polish off the denouement tonight.  I had such a good stint last night -- 1,800 words of mainly actions, very little dialog!  I write dialog like the wind, but describing what people are doing takes me much longer.  I want it to be clear; I want readers to know who is where doing what, and when and how they do it.  And when I've got four people converging on one spot like I do in the bit I was working on, that takes me a while.

But anyway!  I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the music I've been listening to while writing "Cloaked."  I've had four soundtracks on heavy rotation, and part of Aaron Copland's Rodeo too, so here are some of the tracks I've used most from those, for your listening pleasure.

When I first began writing "Cloaked," I listened mostly to Victor Young's score for Shane (1953).  Not surprising, given that Alan Ladd was my inspiration for one character.  Here's one song, "Trip to Town," which gives you a good feel for the whole album, and is also a track I listened to a lot for early scenes in "Cloaked."  It's got such a happy, homey feeling, and I was trying to capture something similar for the part of the story where my main character was getting acquainted with her new surroundings.

I bopped back and forth between Shane and Jerry Goldsmith's score for Bandelero! (1968) for a lot of the first third or so of the story.  I almost never buy soundtracks for movies I haven't seen, because a lot of my enjoyment of soundtracks comes from associating the music with the stories they accompany.  But I have never seen Bandelero!, having been reliably informed that it's not worth my time.  The score, however, is extremely fun, and I bought it as mp3 files last year.  You can listen to it here on YouTube, although the tracks are all out of order.  The main theme is my favorite, but I actually listened to "Across the River" the most for "Cloaked," so here it is:

I eventually settled on music from The Big Country (1958) by Jerome Moross as the ideal fit for the whole middle section of this story.  It's cheerful, but exciting, which was precisely what I needed.  You can hear the whole album here on YouTube, but "Old Thunder" is the track I was drawn to the most for this story.  It's almost a musical description of my heroine, quirky and sweet, but with an underlying strength.

There's a dance scene in "Cloaked," which I wrote all in one evening while listening to this selection from Rodeo by Aaron Copland.  It's got "Buckaroo Holiday," "Corral Nocturne," "Saturday Night Waltz," and "Hoe-down" all strung together, nineteen minutes of music that I could just keep repeating.  Usually I don't listen to YouTube when I'm writing, opting for music I own (sometimes soundtracks, sometimes Bobby Darin -- those are just about all I listen to while writing anymore).  But I discovered that my Aaron Copland CD only has "Hoe-down" on it, which means I need to get a CD of all of Rodeo, obviously.  But I haven't gotten one yet, so YouTube it was.  Like I said, it's nineteen minutes long, so I'm not going to embed it here, but you can follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to listen to it if you want to.

Now, so far, everything I've listed here probably makes a lot of sense to you for stuff to listen to while writing a western.  But for most of the last act of "Cloaked," and all of the big showdown, I listened to nothing at all but Patrick Doyle's score for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).  And that has absolutely nothing westerny to it.  But I'd listened to a few tracks from it over and over while writing an atmospheric action sequence years and years ago, and I knew its dark energy would serve me perfectly for the heroine confronting the villain, so I asked for the soundtrack for Christmas, as I'd only borrowed it from the library before.  And I got it!  And it was practically perfect in every way.  You can listen to the whole soundtrack here on YouTube, but "Death of Cedric" is the track that I will forever associate with "Cloaked."  I hit a very emotional part of my climactic scene while listening to it, and the combination of my heroine's journey to meet her fate and this music brought me to tears while I was writing.  At Starbucks, in full view of a Saturday morning customer rush, where I blew my nose loudly into not one but two tissues before going back to the writing.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed these!  If you're also a writer, I want to know -- do you listen to music while you write?  And if so, what sort?  Do you try to find music that matches what you're working on?  Or listen to whatever you're in the mood for at the moment?  I'm curious!


  1. Congratulations on nearing the end of your draft! How exciting!

    I listen to music while I'm writing, a lot, too. Since my main genre is fantasy, I listen to a lot of Brunuhville, David Arkenstone, Peter Gundry, Patrick Doyle, and Adrian Von Ziegler. :)


    1. Thanks, Olivia :-) Patrick Doyle is one of my favorite modern composers!

  2. Sounds fascinating. Music can be so inspirational, too.
    Well done for completing it.

  3. I absolutely adore "Rodeo" and The Big Country, and I like the soundtrack of Shane too, so basically...awesome playlist! I'll have to check out the music from Bandolero, since I've enjoyed other Goldsmith scores. And naturally, I'm really curious to see where you're going with your take on Little Red Riding Hood in the West (great title, by the way). :)

    1. Elisabeth, I'm not surprised we have a bunch of these in common :-) Whenever I listen to "Corral Nocturne," I think of your story!

      I had just started writing "Cloaked" when you started blogging about "The Mountain of the Wolf," and I actually put it on hold for a while because I was worried it would be too similar to your story! But then I got to read the ARC of "Once" and discovered that they're astonishingly different. I don't know why I freak out about that sometimes, but I do -- two people will never turn out the same story, but nope, I get all convinced that I'm writing the same thing someone else has already written.

      And thanks! Took me a long time to get that title, but I'm very pleased with it myself.

  4. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I love "Rodeo"! I can see how it would be perfect for your story, too--it's very "you-ish" :-)

    (Did that make sense? I meant to say it was something that seemed like it would suit you well. I've been at school all day and am slightly brain-dead . . .)

    Yes, I listen to music ALL THE TIME when I'm writing--in fact, I can't write without music. It's just not possible for me. I don't ALWAYS match the "mood" of my scenes to the music I listen to; but very often, the songs I pick end up matching the tone of what I'm writing.

    For my current WIP--my Holocaust/WW2 story about a Jewish teenager and a Resistance fighter--I've been listening to a ton of OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons because it just seems to really fit. Both bands go for a "darker" sound and have really meaty lyrics, and that's kind of what I'm aiming for with my novel . . .

    There's two songs in particular that I've kind of adopted as the "theme" of this novel:

    "Something I Need" by OneRepublic

    and "Demons" by Imagine Dragons

    1. Jessica, I'm just a Copland fan overall. I spent a bunch of time this afternoon reading reviews of different recordings of Rodeo and figuring out exactly which one I want, hee. And yes, it IS very me-ish. His music as a whole is very much stuff I dig, from Rodeo to Billy the Kid to Appalachian Spring to El Salon Mexico.

      Thanks for sharing those songs! I know the Imagine Dragons song, but I don't think I'd ever heard the other one. It has a catchy beat!

    2. You listen to mainly instrumental music while writing, right? It's funny, because I pretty much *need* music with lyrics in order to focus properly. Counterintuitive, but true.

      I picked out "Something I Need" mainly for the lyrics, I think: "If we only die once, I wanna die with you." My story's theme in a nutshell :-)

    3. Jessica, I also listen to a ton of Bobby Darin when writing, or oldies -- kind of depends on my mood and what scene I'm going to write. There are times when I do use music with lyrics to force myself to concentrate more, actually. I needed that a lot more when I was younger than I do now -- I got a lot more writer's block when I was a teen and into my twenties, and songs with lyrics often helped me with that.

      Sounds like a cheerful story ;-)

    4. It's about the Holocaust . . . I mean . . . ya know what I mean . . . ;-)

      It's hopeful, too, though, as well as dark. It's really a story about survival; and HOW you survive in the midst of so much horror and tragedy and suffering. Kind of a recurring theme with my writing, actually . . .

    5. Jessica, interesting theme to return to! Plenty to write about, I'm sure.

  5. So cool! Neat to get to hear your playlist and read about how each cue fits into the writing puzzle for you.

    "Across the River" is my favorite cue from Bandolero besides the Main Title. :-D All I had to do is read the name and I started singing it, LOL.

    And Goblet of Fire, that's a huge writing score for me, though still tied strongly to DTD right now.

    1. DKoren, you know you're directly responsible for me owning both Bandolero! and Goblet of Fire because you shared tracks from both with me and made me seek them out. How fun we share fave tracks on Bandolero!

      The cue "Voldemort" always makes me think of Dana Andrews -- I tend to skip it while writing (or not notice it go past), because otherwise it flips me back into Ashes, Ashes.

  6. How cool that you're finishing up a novel! There's always a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you finish a first draft and know that it's finally done and all written down.

    I have never written to music, but I love reading about what music other people use and listening to it. And I totally love the "Cloaked" title. The single hardest thing for me to do in writing is to find a title that really satisfies me, because I feel like the title should represent something of the heart or meaning of the story, and I can never seem to sum that up in a few words. "Cloaked," though -- that sounds really cool, and like I might want to read it based on the title alone.

    Also, I enjoy doing fairy-tale retellings myself (I was imagining them before I ever knew they were a thing), so your whole idea of setting fairy tales in the West is quite cool to me.

    1. Thanks, Marcy! It's more of a long short story -- about 26,000 words right now. Maybe a short novella? But yes, I love getting to The End and knowing that I have a completed story to work with instead of just stuff floating in my brain.

      Titles are so tricky! Either they come to me instantly, or I fiddle with them forever. It took me months to find a good title for "Cloaked," and I was starting to despair of a good one, but then, %poof% it just appeared.

      Fairy tale retellings are fun :-) I've done some Shakespeare retellings in the past too, and got the same kick out of figuring out how all the pieces would change, yet be the same, in a different setting.

  7. I would love to read your retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" since I loved your retelling of "Sleeping Beauty". Since I'm not a writer I can't answer to anything else you're speaking about. :)

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I am currently exploring the idea of self-publishing, and I'm tentatively hoping to release "Cloaked" this summer sometime -- and that means you'd get to read it!


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