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Music

Best Writing Music of 2012

What’s your favorite writing music from 2012? We’ve created our annual list of the new music that helped us write this year.

Share the songs or albums that inspired you in the comments section and we will add it to our growing Spotify playlist (also posted below)–it currently contains six hours of instrumental music.

Follow this link to read our Best Writing Music of 2011 list. If you want more inspiration, check out Largehearted Boy’s annual list of Year-End Music Lists and Open Culture’s timeless Best Music to Write By list.

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How Mark Z. Danielewski Scored The Fifty Year Sword

Mark Z. Danielewski published The Fifty Year Sword in the United States today, creating a digital book version of his intricate ghost story alongside the print edition.

The iBooks version features music from pianist and NPR From the Top host Christopher O’Riley. In an email interview with GalleyCat,  Danielewski explained how his relationship began with the pianist and how the created the digital book. Read his response and enjoy O’Riley’s piano work in the free Spotify playlist below–it makes great writing music.

Follow this link to read Danielewski’s advice for making enhanced digital books. The author will make a few book tour stops with O’Riley, reading the book along with the music. Follow this link to see the stops on the tour.

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Play the Literary Jukebox

Brain Pickings writer Maria Popova has created the Literary Jukebox, sharing a song and a related quote every day.

Check it out: “As a lover of both literature and music, I frequently find myself immersed in a passage, with a conceptually related song beginning to play in my mind’s ear. I recently started making such matches more consciously and was quickly drawn into a highly addictive exercise in creative intersections and associations. So I decided to make a little side project out of it. Enter Literary Jukebox, a minimalist site where I match a passage from a favorite book with a thematically related song each day.”

Josh Boston designed the logo and Debbie Millman helped inspire the project. If you are looking for more music and literary inspiration, explore our Spotify Playlists for writers below…

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Beck to Publish His Next Album with McSweeney’s

Rock star Beck will publish his next album with McSweeney’s. The 108-page package will feature booklets, lyrics, sheet music (sample page embedded above) and covers for 20 different songs–but the reader must play the music themselves. Check it out:

Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of- home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukelele notation), the Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012 … The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you.

Will you play Beck Hansen’s Song Reader? The collection comes out December 2012. The publisher will also feature its favorite covers of the songs on its website.

Emma Straub to Tour with The Magnetic Fields

What if novelists opened for rock bands?

Novelist Emma Straub (pictured) will tour with Magnetic Fields in November, reading from her debut novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. Click here for ticket information.

Straub wrote about the upcoming dates here: “This November, I will be hitting the road again with my dear friends The Magnetic Fields … this time, as the opening act. I’ll be reading before their shows in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and DC! Expect to hear a short section of the novel as well as some other fun pieces … The above photo was taken on the last night of the first US leg of the Tour at the Bottom of the Sea. You can see all of our adventures here.”

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Musicians Inspired by Harry Crews

When novelist Harry Crews passed away, he left behind novels, magazine articles and a musical legacy.  Classics Rock! compiled a list of all the musicians who were inspired by the late writer. Check it out:

In 1989, Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), Lydia Lunch, and Sadie Mae formed a band called Harry Crews and released one album, a collection of live performances, called Naked in Garden Hills after Crews’s novel. As Spin Magazine points out in a review, “lyrics to some of the songs—notably ‘The Knockout Artist,’ ‘The Gospel Singer,’ and ‘Car’—are inspired by Crews’s stories, though the connection is loose, a sort of Cliff’s Notes/free-association combo. Once in a while the lumbering brake-shop squall of the music suggests something of Crews’s stories….”

The Harry Crews Online Bibliography created a giant list of obituaries and essays written about Crews. Below, we’ve linked to some older articles highlighted by the website.

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Best Writing Music of 2011

What’s your favorite writing music from 2011?

Share the songs or albums that inspired you in the comments section and we will add it to our growing Spotify playlist (also posted below)–it currently contains six hours of instrumental, Amazon’s best classical music of 2011, rock, folk, electronica and more for your listening pleasure.

If you want more inspiration, check out Largehearted Boy’s annual list of Year-End Music Lists. Every year this GalleyCat editor makes an annual collection of his favorite writing music from the year. We’ve posted the list below along with music from GalleyCat readers around the country. Follow this link to listen to the playlist.

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Trent Reznor Releases Six Song Sampler from ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ Soundtrack

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the musical team that created the moody soundtrack for The Social Network, have just released a six-song sampler from their upcoming soundtrack for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Follow this link to download the sampler, containing six atmospheric songs for your writing pleasure–a glimpse of the three hour long final album. The David Fincher-directed adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s mega-bestseller will hit theaters in mid-December.

Here’s more from Reznor, the leader of Nine Inch Nails: “For the last fourteen months Atticus and I have been hard at work … We laughed, we cried, we lost our minds and in the process made some of the most beautiful and disturbing music of our careers. The result is a sprawling three-hour opus that I am happy to announce is available for pre-order right now for as low as $11.99. The full release will be available in one week – December 9th.”

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Knopf & Doubleday Join Spotify

Both Knopf and Doubleday and have joined Spotify, building hand-picked music lists for their authors. The site includes a number of playlists, including mixes from Colson Whitehead, Erin Morgenstern, and Jennifer Egan.

Follow this link to get a Spotify invite for the free service. We also recommend you check our “How to Control Your Facebook Apps” post to make sure you are happy with your privacy settings. We’ve already built “12 Spotify Playlists for Writers.”

Here’s more about Whitehead’s playlist for Zone One: “The undead take Manhattan in this literary and literal feast from award-winning author Colson Whitehead. The author selected these 10 songs to set the scene for his postmodern meditation on exterminating zombies in Manhattan.” (Via K.B. Abele)

Why Did Wilco Write a Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend?

The indie rock band Wilco just released their complex and inspiring new album, The Whole Love. The record concludes with a song, “One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” We caught up with novelist Jane Smiley, confirming that the haunting song is indeed about her partner.

Smiley (pictured, via Mike Bennington) explained: “Apparently my partner was chatting to Jeff Tweedy about some religious thoughts. I don’t quite understand the song, but those who’ve heard it seem to really like it, especially the music. I do think that it is really funny that someone as square (and old) as myself would end up in the title of a song in an alt-rock group’s album.”

The 12-minute song won’t be available until September 27th, but here’s a sample of lyrics from the song: “One Sunday Morning /  Oh, one son is gone. / I can see where it’s dawning / Over the sea / My father said what I had become / No one should be.”

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