What You Didn’t Know About Soundtracks

James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard (Photo credit: MasonPelt)

When movies, video games, cartoons, television shows, musicals and books get a carefully crafted soundtrack, they become more alive. With the right gripping music, pivotal moments become a part of our breath, a part of our soul, and are written into our memory and subconscious for all time.

The first soundtrack was released in 1938 for Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But they didn’t become popular until the 1950s when they were called “Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtracks.”

All types of soundtracks blare through my speakers while I surf the web, upload pictures, exercise and clean. But to my surprise I started using soundtracks in two new areas that have changed my routine forever. When I started writing novels I noticed that little things kept distracting and yanking me out of the character’s world. At first, the thought of writing to music was not an option, because just like other things, music can be very distracting and hinder my creative process. But I found a loophole. As long as the music playing was a soundtrack, I could write! And not only could I write, but I was more inspired and motivated to write with a soundtrack playing than with ambient noise. If it’s the right lyric-less soundtrack, writing can be an even more inspirational journey.

The power of soundtracks also surprised me during reading. I always assumed I needed a quiet environment to read, because when I was around loud people or when mainstream music was playing I couldn’t concentrate. But the same loophole works for reading, too! As long as there are no lyrics in the music, soundtracks now enhance my reading experience.

Below are a few of my favorite soundtracks. (And movies for that matter!) Grab ‘em off iTunes and voilà! You’ve got the formula I can’t live without! But what about you? Do you prefer natural noise when creating, or do you use music? What kind? If you have any other thoughts or alternate writing and reading formulas, post them below!

The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy soundtracks – Howard Shore

The Fountain soundtrack – Clint Mansell

Ever After soundtrack – George Fenton

Gladiator soundtrack – Hans Zimmer

Shakespeare in Love soundtrack – Stephen Warbeck

Lady in the Water soundtrack – James Newton Howard

Dangerous Beauty soundtrack – George Fenton

Batman Begins soundtrack – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

The Dark Knight soundtrack – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

The Village soundtrack – James Newton Howard

World of Warcraft soundtracks – Russell Brower & Jason Hayes

E.S. Posthumas soundtracks – Franz & Helmut Vonlichten

Two Steps from Hell soundtracks – Nick Pheonix & Thomas J. Bergersen

Epic Score soundtracks – Gabriel Shadid

Many thanks to all the composers in the world. Through your dedication and passion you create timeless music. You inspire, empower, connect, and immerse us all to places beyond everyday life.

James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer at the The...

James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer at the The Dark Knight Premiere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


4 thoughts on “What You Didn’t Know About Soundtracks

  1. Interesting picks you have here specially Two Steps From Hell, really underrated composers, I am surprised that they are not getting picked up on projects like The Lord of the Rings. And for what you said about what soundtracks rings true, in my case the ones that tend to stand out have to be composers like Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy 1-11). Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross, REALLY recommend the first track “Time’s Scar” you will be blown away) and of course my personal favorite Harry Gregson-Williams (Metal Gear Solid 1-4 and The Rock)

    • Luke, I agree completely! Two Steps from hell don’t get enough credit. 🙂 I will definitely have to check out your recommendations. FF soundtracks are such a great idea, ty!

  2. I’m in love with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack! Along with just about anything by Hans Zimmer.
    I’m also a big fan of the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack by John Powell and the Schindlers’ List soundtrack by John Williams – the violin solo makes me cry.
    Great post:)

    • I’ve heard great things about How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack! Thank you for reminding me about that. 😉 I will also check out the Schindlers’ violin solo, too. 🙂 Ty, Ty!

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