The Sounds of Story: Mixing Music with Reading

studiousToday I’m going to talk about something that my friend asked about recently. She took a look at my recent posts and asked, “Why do you put ‘music to listen to’ at the bottom?” It’s a good question.

To me, music and literature have been synonymous with each other. In their own ways, both mediums express human desires, strengths, weaknesses, and faults. We all have that go-to musical artist for when we’re happy, when we’re sad, or when we want to party. Well, I feel the same way about books.

Think about it this way: a book is supposed to “transport you to another world”, yes? Take a moment and recall your favorite film score. Was it the triumphant sounds of John Williams in “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”? Or was it the deep bellowing of Ramin Djawadi in “Pacific Rim” and “Iron Man”? Perhaps then, your favorite includes Hans Zimmer, with his emotional scores in “Gladiator,” “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar”? If you’ve seen the TV show “Friday Night Lights,” you should know that the popular ballad they play repeatedly (“Your Hand in Mine (Goodbye)” by Explosions in the Sky) gets to me every freaking time *tears*.

Now imagine if those cinematic pieces had no music at all. Changes how you feel about it, doesn’t it? That’s how I feel about the relationship between what I’m reading and the soundtrack to the story. This is why I always include a sound you should listen to while enjoying the book, or when you’re digesting the story.

Writers Have All the Fun

Going off of that, an interesting trend that I’m starting to notice among some of my favorite authors is the “chapter playlist.” It’s when an author creates a playlist for their novel, oftentimes having each song be the summary emotion of the respective chapters. I can’t tell you how much I love this trend. It not only gives the authors another opportunity to interact with their readers, but it also helps convey what the tone of their novel should be.

What the authors began has now manifested into fan creations as well, in the form of “fanmixes,” or fan-made mixtapes for a particular book, character, or character pairing. I relish these when I come across them, and I’m also guilty of creating my own fanmixes on Spotify. It draws me deeper into the story or that relationship, and everytime I listen to the playlist I am reminded of the circumstances that the characters face. Thus, it prompts me to re-read the books again and again and…you get it. I’ve even started creating playlists for my own writing, so I can always recall what the tone of the story should be.

(By the way, if you’re curious, I made fanmixes for Red Rising, The Bartimaeus Trilogy, and recently the Captive Prince trilogy. I’ll include links at the bottom, for your entertainment.)

My Four Muses

So, who are my go-to muses when it’s time to digest the story and feel connected? There’s four musical muses I subscribe to that never fail to deliver the perfect song or album that reflects how I’m feeling. And they are:

Jon Bellion

This guy…where do I start? Jon Bellion is an indie musician, singer-songwriter who has penned a lot of hits for Jason Derulo, Rihanna, and a few others. But his main passion is his own sound, which is phenomenal. He’s not quite pop, not quite hip-hop, but some wild fusion in-between. His music is brutally honest, and that’s what I enjoy about him.

Side Note – This crazy guy also releases a majority of his music for FREE. Whole albums, just sitting out there on the web for you to download and enjoy! I’ve included some links below where you can stream his music. I highly recommend you give his sound a listen.


The Definition album

Translations Through Speakers album

The Separation album


Any longtime anime fan must’ve heard of Nujabes (Jun Seba) at some point. His work includes the soundtrack to “Samurai Champloo” and other works, where this unique Japanese DJ seamlessly blended jazz and hip-hop to create a new sound for any scenario. Unfortunately, Jun Seba died in February 2010 in a fatal traffic accident, but many hip-hop artists have counted him among their inspirations.

Ghibli Film Scores

I can’t quite explain why, out of all the compositions in the world, I gravitate most to the scores that accompany Studio Ghibli films. It could be the child-like wonderment that they encompass, but it’s definitely my internal soundtrack to a lot of fantasy works I’ve read recently.

Really Slow Motion

This is actually the name of a company that is well-known for their mood music in trailers for films and TV. Their stuff is dramatic, epic orchestral pieces, that are perfect for any emotional scene (especially battle scenes). Give them a listen too!

So, there you have it! Music is as a part of me as the books I read. We all daydream and digest the stories we consume, so why not give that story a soundtrack to dream to?

Spotify Fanmixes:

Red Rising

The Bartimaeus Trilogy : nicknamed “I Rather Think He Knew”

The Captive Prince Trilogy  : nicknamed “Damen and Laurent”


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