By Caleb Rechten
I write a lot. And when you’re writing, or rather, when ‘I’ am writing, I need to have some form of music playing. It helps me focused and inspires me. If I don’t have something playing I am either interrupted by my family (I have three younger sisters who are very excellent at the interrupting of focus) or the conversations of Starbucks patrons.
It took a while, but I finally honed in on the best type of music to listen to while writing: video game music. Thanks to my extensive self proclaimed nerdom, I had no trouble in finding a decent amount of music just for such a purpose as writing. There are several reasons behind video game music being the best for writing or any focus intensive task. One, video game music is usually instrumental. So, just like Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, there are no words (except for any operas of course). Words are usually fairly distracting in my experience because it’s something I have to consciously pay attention to. And I have a difficult time not focusing on that in place of my work. It’s nearly as bad as listening to the conversations in Starbucks.
Something else to consider is how classical music helps brain activity and development. So what better music to listen to than classical, video game, or movie scores?
I would say video game music and movie scores are where most of the modern classical composers are. Hans Zimmer, who composed the music for Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Gladiator among many other compositions, is my prime example of a modern day classical composer and I bow to him. Danny Elfman is a favorite as well. Both composers have dabbled in creating music for video games like Call of Duty, Crysis 2, Fable One and Two, and video game spin offs of their movie counterparts like Batman.
Simply put, the reason video game music is so excellent for focus oriented tasks is because it’s geared to specifically be in the background. Because of this I’d say it’s a half or quarter step in front of movie scores. Movie scores are meant to be in the background as well, but unlike video game music, you aren’t meant to hear the same repetitive music hour upon hour upon hour. There’s always some music that will have a bad composer, made for a part of the game you only hear for a few minutes and would wind up being a terrible example of what I’m describing, but the majority of it is exactly as I described.
Some music and composers I’d recommend to you would include:
Anything composed by Nobuo Uematsu, the writer of the most popular music from Final Fantasy games, Music from Castlevania, Crono Trigger and Crono Cross, World of Warcraft, Kingdom Hearts, and many others. If you’re already familiar with Nobuo Uematsu’s music from Final Fantasy, I’d recommend you check out his work on the video game music for Blue Dragon which is nearly as impressive. There’s also a good album of video game music entitled ‘Video Games Live’ that has many of the video game music I’ve mentioned and more.