3 Ways In Which Music Can Inspire Writing


3 Ways In Which Music Can Inspire Writing R.S. Mollison-Read

As some of you know, in addition to writing, I am also a classically trained soprano. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Calgary in 2009. As such, music is an essential part of my life. I’ve also found that music can be an incredible inspiration for my writing.

Here are three ways in which music inspires my writing:

1. Musical Memory:

When I was taking music history classes during my studies, we were given long lists of around 150 pieces with which we needed to be quite familiar. We would be tested on those pieces later, and have to comment on the stylistic trends found in the piece. 150 pieces is an enormous amount of material to get through in a semester, and so we would often resort to mnemonic devices.

Schubert’s 8th Symphony, entitled The Unfinished Symphony, was renamed ‘The Batman Symphony’ by one of my classmates:

Every time I hear this piece, I am eighteen again, sitting in a classroom with my friends, trying to memorize pieces for a test. Music, much like smell, can instantaneously transport you to another time in your life. This is a powerful tool in writing, because recalling memories like this can open doors to creative writing inspiration!

2. The Emotive Power of Music:

Music also has an incredible power to evoke emotion from us.

Another particular favourite piece of mine, is from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. There are very few people who aren’t familiar with the infamous theme from the first movement of this symphony, but my favourite is the 3rd movement:

Is there any sound more glorious?

As soon as I hear that powerful theme, I cannot help but be swept away in a torrent of emotions; pride, honour, majesty, and triumph!

Another great emotive piece, is Beethoven’s beautiful Sonata No.8 in c minor:

Isn’t this piece just a treasure trove of emotion? From those first rich chords, straight through into the allegro con brio, this piece is just a roller coaster ride of emotional turmoil!

My point is, that I cannot help but be inspired by both of these pieces, and others like them. There is something so moving, and inspiring that evokes something particularly creative in my imagination! After listening for even a few minutes, I feel fired up, and ready to write!


3. Relaxation:

I absolutely cannot write to any music other than instrumental. My mind just cannot focus on the words I’m writing, if I am simultaneously trying to sing along to the music in the background, which is what inevitably happens, whenever I listen to pieces with text.
As such, I have developed a playlist of instrumental pieces I find particularly relaxing. I let the music wash over me, still my mind, and then I am ready to write!

One of the pieces on my ‘writing playlist’, is also from Beethoven’s Sonata No.8 (Pathetique). The second movement is as different from the first, as it is possible to be!

But my particular favourite is Liszt’s Un Sospiro:

The word ‘sospiro’ is Italian, and it means ‘sigh‘, which this piece evokes in the most stunning way. Whenever I listen to this, I feel as though I’m floating on a cloud!




Does music inspire your writing? What pieces (or songs) are your favourites? Tell me in the comments below!


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11 thoughts on “3 Ways In Which Music Can Inspire Writing

  1. Oh Rachael, this was an outstanding blog! Music is truly the language of the soul. I use it every time I write and instrumental music is the only type to listen to. I have a serious list of classical favorites to use (depending on the type of scene I need to write). Action scenes get active music, sweet tender scenes get soft beautiful music. You know from reading my book what are some of my favorites. Beethoven’s 9th, his Moonlight Sonata, and Fur Elise. I found an orchestral version of Rachmaninov’s “Vocalaise” and it is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever listened to. It seems to speak in a sweet gentle voice that moved me to tears the first time I heard it. Alas, it is on an old LP record buried in the basement. I have not been able to find a good orchestral (stringed instruments) version of it. Most versions have women singing it. It’s a vocaliase after all. 🙂

    Anyway, thank you, for sharing your love of music and thoughts of how it inspires creativity. It proves my first impression of you, a very talented lady indeed.

    • Susan, thank-you so much for the sweet comment! It’s so nice to know that other people use music for inspiration in the same ways that I do!

  2. I like certain soundtracks and classics. My favourite classics are Gustav Holst’s Jupiter and Turkish March.

  3. […] Mollison-Read presents 3 Ways In Which Music Can Inspire Writing posted at R.S. […]

  4. I enjoyed reading this blog, and I’m in complete agreement with you about music with words. It immediately transports me to another place and time. The problem is, I can’t listen to music I know and love without helping on the vocals in a loud, stop everything I’m doing, way.

    This connection to music, though, doesn’t surprise me. All music comes from the mind and imagination of another writer. Their writing is experienced in auditory form and mine is experienced in visual, but we’re all pulling from a deeper place – emotions, experiences, the senses, etc.

    I’ve always wanted to put together an instrumental classics list. While I have a varied appreciation of all music genres, I’m lacking in the classics area. So thank you. I’m copying down your suggestions from above as well as the suggestions in the comments from Susan Waterwyk. Thank you.

    • rimir@shaw.ca

      Thanks for stopping by Kathleen! I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
      I really liked your point about creative works all being inspired from the same place. I completely agree, and I think that’s why the arts are so valuable to society. They are truly the personification of the human experience!
      Glad you have some inspiration for your instrumental classics listening list!

  5. […] know, when I’m not writing, I teach classical voice. There are many aspects of music that inspire my writing, but lately I’ve noticed that there are just as many aspects of teaching that […]

  6. Great article, Rachael. As a musician, I often don’t listen to music while writing because I find myself concentrating on the music instead of being creative. Would you like to have me post your blog on my website? http://www.heavenlyharpist.com/blog/
    Sally Fletcher

    • Hi Sally! So great to hear from another musician, and it’s interesting to hear that you find music a distraction to your writing! That would be great if you would post my article on your blog! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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