I think nearly everyone knows I collect film scores. Even if it's from a film I didn't like or may not have even seen yet, most of my available hard drive space is devoted to movie music. I love it, and can listen to film scores all day (and have repeatedly!).
Obviously, I have my favorites. And obviously, some of this film music is instantly identifiable with the films from which it comes which immediately tosses some fairly iconic film imagery across my mind's eye. Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Back to the Future. Halloween. Friday the 13th. Because I've seen these movies so many times, I can't help but think about these films when I hear the music. And that's just fine. There are times when I need a little John Williams action, or want to have John Carpenter jumping at me throughout the day.
However, I have a number of film scores that I'm able to enjoy and divorce from their source material, either because I'm not overly intimate with the film in question or I haven't seen the movie at all. (Or, in some cases, as with the score from Land of the Dead, I heard the music first, then saw the movie, which allowed my brain to appreciate the music by itself without attaching visuals to it.) And it's to these scores I look when I'm looking for music to play while writing.
I can't listen to music with lyrics when I write. I find it distracting, and I really struggle. And there's no way I could write a short horror story while listening to something like Williams' Jaws (actually, I MIGHT be able to with Jaws playing in the background, but most of Williams' film scores are so iconic that it might be tough) or Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian.
But film scores that aren't so instantly recognizable to me? No problem.
When I wrote Memories of Home, I had a particular film score I would load into my .mp3 player, and I was off and running. Part of it was the ritual of writing - when my ears started hearing a particular piece of music, my brain learned that that was the cue to start writing. Honestly, this almost ruined this music for me because when I hear it now, I immediately think about that novel's characters, setting, etc. It has made watching the movie from which it came a bit awkward.
I recently settled on a score for my current larger work-in-process, and I'm very happy about it on a few different levels.
1) I've never seen the music's movie.
2) I have no intention of seeing it (absolutely nothing about the movie - other than its score - looks appealing to me).
3) The composers - Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil - are the same composers behind the music I used when writing my previous novel, which means my brain has already started associating it with the familiar act of novel-ing.
I just double-clicked the first track in iTunes, so if you'll excuse me, I have some words to throw down.