What Does The Instrumental Say To Us?


Back to serious writing this weekend so some quick thoughts on music and writing.

I have a lot of different music on my iPhone. Music for working out, music for driving, music for writing, and music for just chilling. This morning I am writing and listening to a playlist I’d titled – Mellow.  Songs by artists such as Van Morrison, Carol King, James Taylor, Toto, R.E.M., and Cat Stevens are included in that playlist. I also included a few songs by a guitar playing duo from Mexico probably because I didn’t know what other category to put them under.

I have a playlist called Workout/Road in which I have everyone from Creed to Iron Maiden. It’s mostly comprised of hard rock.  Power music. I do however have one instrumental on there: Orion by the group Metallica.  I liken the instrumental to art or poetry in that it says something different to all of us. This song for example, would be a great backdrop in a book trailer for a dark thriller. The beginning of it speaks of a determined pursuit while the complete shift in the middle speaks of some dark question answered in a not-so-climactic way. Maybe the finding of a body in a deserted cabin deep in the woods that only leads to more questions and/or pursuit? That’s my interpretation and it suits my current WIP.

There is another version of this song, performed by Rodrigo y Gabriella. If you love guitar music, these two are amazing. I happened to listen to their version of the song this morning and it said many of the same things to me although in a much softer, less powerful way and with a Latin twist. Maybe a dark thriller that takes place in South America or Spain? It could work.

Same song, yet two different feelings on interpretation when it comes to levels of darkness, pursuit, and scene setting.

How about you, do you use instrumental music for inspiration?  What can an instrumental say to you ?








  1. Lovely. I’ll have to explore more of their offerings. I think you know my answer to your question, though I don’t limit myself to instrumental. I love CPE Bach for its vibrancy and forward energy, but Music in a language not my own is almost as good.

    I’m fond of the Buena Vista Social Club for its atmospheric complexity when I’m writing something personal. But metal is my go-to for when I need to pound out content in a hurry. Meter matters.

    Great Sunday Morning read. Good luck with the serious writing!

  2. I love love love that version – they made me like Metallica! LOL I love classical Spanish guitar, but when I’m writing I usually listen to the song I’m writing about (if it’s a Sunday) or, more atmospheric….um…”yoga” music for the rest. I also really like Sia because 3/4 of what she sings I can’t understand but her vocalizations are beautiful. Their version of Orion would be great as a backdrop for a movie version of Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind – have you read it?

    • W.C. Cunningham

      September 6, 2015 at 8:17 am

      My mother introduced me to RyG. I’ve been hooked on them since. As for The Shadow of the Wind, no, I haven’t read it but it sounds interesting.

  3. Love RyG! Any instrumental latin guitar makes my day!!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      September 6, 2015 at 8:30 am

      I’ve enjoyed their music for years. They have an interesting story on how they got where they are today.

  4. Great post, Bill. I rely heavily on music to dig inside me to find the stories I want to tell. I have a couple of instrumentals I listen to, though they are violin based but they help!

    • W.C. Cunningham

      September 6, 2015 at 8:32 am

      I knew you would bring up your violin music. I do enjoy it and need to add more of it to my playlists. That and piano music.

  5. I’m also a huge fan of writing with music in the background. It helps remove any other aural distractions from my writing (such as, you know, children). Music with lyrics will occasionally work, but film scores work best. If you want something with suspense, may I recommend BREACH? I write about it on my site, if you’re so inclined to look.http://jeanleesworld.com/2015/04/01/writers-music-mychael-danna-ii/

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