Musical creation

Although I am a great lover of silence I live on a large housing estate so this is indeed a rare commodity. When I am writing, painting or otherwise being creative I like to wind up the Spotify gramophone and have music playing in the background.

The choice of music is oh so important. It must somehow relate to what I am doing and if the right track comes along it can double my creative productivity.

For example, when writing material for IHMN my favourite tracks come from Abney Park, a self-confessed steampunk musical cooperative. You really should look them up, especially tracks like Airship Pirate, Building Steam and Steampunk Revolution.
When writing for Dead Simple I prefer something more atmospheric and a regular choice is the soundtrack from the Age of Conan game. It really brings out the Cimmerian in me. Another is the Icelandic band Árstíðir ( Remarkable young chaps doing things a way only true-blooded vikings can.

Another favourite for IHMN is anything by Amanda Palmer, a remarkable young lady upon whom I based Lady Helen Quatermain. She is mean, moody and magnificent with sharp often satirical lyrics. I forgive her being a colonial because she is the partner of Neil Gaiman (a writing god).

For modern writing, and quite a bit of my SF wargames output, I generally listen to the four disc boxed set sountrack album of Good Morning Vietnam.

For horror/supernatural its back to basics with early Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and Jethro Tull – none of that retreaded stuff any of them did in the nineties and noughties to pay alimony and the mortgage.

So there you have it – what do you listen to? Anything I would be interested in? Spotify is my oyster so my reach is long 🙂

12 thoughts on “Musical creation

  1. I’m a musician myself so I listen to music all the time. Of all kinds really. For painting miniatures I like really atmospheric stuff so a lot of Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Mogwai etc. In other activities I listen to a lot of punk, grunge, dub reggae and classic hip-hop. I’m also with you on Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin etc.

  2. I also a big believer in setting the atmosphere of a game with background music. I have a range of compilation playlists all themed – VSF, Ancient, SciFi, Weird WW2, Cthulhu etc. I play them throughout our games and its amazing how often the big game action coincides with emotive, crashing music!

    My VSF Playlist includes many period military marches and the like, Zulu soundtrack songs, a little bit of Gilbert and Sullivan, the odd bagpipes, Foreign Legion songs, Indiana Jones, etc Abney Park is also in there too!

  3. I actually enjoy the 2 Sherlock Homes (Hans Zimmer) soundtracks and the new Sherlock (Benedict Cumberpatch) ones are fairly decent. Other soundtracks would be Zulu (as Paul mentioned), Gettysburg, Last of the Mohicans, the remake of Battlestar Galactica (multiple volumes)… The list could go on and on.
    Outside of the box music would be the performer Enigma. I listen to him a lot. Some Nordic fiddle music is always fun. I hadn’t heard of Árstíðir but I like their style.
    However I’ve found music while gaming can be a little distracting so I try not to play anything during a game.

  4. quite enjoy Abney Park myself, or even Professor Elemental or The men who Will not be Blamed for Nothing… all jolly Steampunky… Adore Fields of the Nephilim too, long tracks, full of atmosphere… Spotify is such a boon these days as it costs very little to have such a wide range of music available at your finger tips… oh… and give Apocolyptica a go too… their Metallica covers album is grand!

  5. Faves at the moment are anything by Wardruna (they do a lot of the music for the Vikings TV show) and are just the bomb, The Heavy (House That Dirt Built) which features songs in a number of TV shows such as Suits and games like Borderlands 2, the soundtrack from Eco Draconis, Rob Zombie and NIN, and the soundtrack from Conan the Barbarian (Arnie version). I listen quite broadly, though these are current repeats.

  6. If you skip over the one narrative track, I find the recent Tron soundtrack quite good for writing Science Fiction. For sheer moodiness, Adiago for Tron really appeals to me.

  7. I just want to express my sincere thanks for pointing me in the direction of Abney Park. Never heard of them till now but after to listening to a number of tracks I recognized ‘Letting off Steam’. A troupe of fire dancers where performing to this at the Steampunk Festival, Fire Night in the old Victorian precinct of Oamaru. What could be better…steampunks in costume, a fairground traction engine, fire dancers, a brewery serving their finest ales, hot chestnut and potato vendors, a whiskey bar, braziers, gaslights…..and Abney Park.

  8. Having spent the last long weekend at a steampunk music festival (Full Steam Metal Racket at Llanfyllin Workhouse, Powys), I’m in quite a steampunk music mood. I’m a singer/performer myself (but cabaret rather than steampunk). Big problem musically is that steampunk is a sensibility and fiction genre rather than a music style, so it is what “feels” steampunk to you. I have background music & playlists when I’m painting or working on a project, but agree that it is a distraction when playing. Not a fan of Abney Park myself, but there are loads of great bands/acts out there: Aurelio Voltaire, Thy Last Drop, The Dead Victorians, Gladstone, The Copperfield Ensemble, etc who make good mood music. Also like a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan or military band in the mix. An interesting steampunk album is being developed by a Swiss composer called Michael Ghelfi (, and you might want to listen to some of the GASP (Gothic, Alternative, Steampunk and Progressive) Radio Shows by Steven C. Davis at:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s