The film score is a very important part of movies today. This is partly because of their ability to convey certain emotions in different scenes. If it’s an action scene, you’re going to hear a lot of suspenseful, high strung music. If it’s a romance scene, the music is going to be sweet and most likely relaxing. Music alone can make you want to cry, laugh, dance, wonder, be horrified, sit on the edge of our seats, or (like me) wave your arms around and call it “conducting.” With no music, particular movie scenes would come across as less meaningful; something is missing.
Since the main use of film scores is to convey emotions in movies with music, I thought, “Why not listen to music while writing?” Music could also play a helpful role in the development of a story, even during the actual writing. In your story, there’s probably quite a lot of scenes that express certain emotions, just like in movies. In my experience, if I am writing a scene while listening to music with an emotion similar to the emotion I are writing, the ability to convey emotions stronger in my writing will be enhanced, thus improving the writing. You may even enjoy writing better when you’re listening to music that goes along with it. Of course, there may be some reasons why listening to music while writing may not be advisable and I’m still researching this, but I’ve actually found it to be enjoyable (particularly since film scores are my favorite genre).
So, say you want to write an epic scene. Scenes you write of triumph, heroism, adventure, exultation, evil glory, and any expressions of greatness. If you’re picking from film scores, look for scenes from movies you’ve seen that are epic in the specific way you want, and listen to that track while you write your epic scene. For example, consider the awesomeness of Vader, as expressed in the “Imperial March” by John Williams from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This song is the villain’s theme song, but it’s so epic and evilly majestic that it could cause you to actually appreciate the villain, actually think Darth Vader is cool (because he is anyways), but the Imperial March conveys it even more.
There are, of course, lots of other film scores that are also spirit-soaring and triumphant that are great for listening to while writing your epic scenes (and great for just simply listening to). John Williams (who just recently received the AFI Life Achievement Award) has quite a few cheerful, triumphant marches such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Indy Jones), Star Wars tracks such as “The Temple March,” “Flag Parade,” the Main Theme, and “Throne Room and End Credits.” Then there’s “March of 1941,” “March of the Midway,” and tons of others. Williams is excellent on marches, and if this is the sort of feel you’re looking for (perhaps your hero coming back in rags and glory?), I think these are some good picks.
Some of my favorite epic film scores I like listening to are composed by Hans Zimmer (all Pirates of the Caribbean songs are great), John Powell (How To Train Your Dragon has amazing music), Danny Elfman (the “Epic Finale” from Epic), James Horner (“The Launch” from Apollo 13) and Patrick Doyle (the track “Thor Kills the Destroyer” is pretty good). These are just a few composers and movie music that I have found very helpful for writing any epic scenes, triumphant comebacks, redemptive endings, funny action dramas, and priceless moments of high-strung pure joy. Here is a favorite of mine that most of you may recognize:
There are two other artists that I believe must deserve mentioning as well: Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine. This music is definitely relevant to this post’s topic and I’ve found that most of the songs from these two artists are good picks for writing to. Not just epic, triumphant scenes fit this music, but also action, combat, suspense, redemption, or any other passages with such vivacity.
Two Steps from Hell was formed by Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix in 2006, with a mission to write music for movie trailers. 9 years later, they had achieved that goal and more, with their first album “Invincible” establishing epic orchestral music as a new and unique music genre, not to mention live concerts, more albums, and a growing popularity. They are original in symphonic composition, and their style is very different compared to other orchestral pieces you may have heard. This music is extremely high strung, victoriously loud, great for getting motivated with homework, and, in one word that I think describes them the best, epic. In fact, I wonder if Two Steps from Hell was trying to compose the most epic music possible. Each song uses the full orchestra (one of them I saw in a YouTube video had maybe fifty snare drums), a large choir as one of the main elements, and some electric elements. In my opinion, these compositions are gorgeous and very powerful. For writing any overly tense epic scenes, you may want to create a playlist or station of just Two Steps from Hell. My favorites are mainly their classics, such as “Heart of Courage,” “Sky Titans,” “Spirit of Moravia,” “Blackheart,” “Invincible,” and “Winterspell.” Their motto: “Music makes you braver.” (And this stuff certainly does.)
“Music for Motion Picture Advertising.” That’s Audiomachine, and the song “Guardians at the Gate” may sound very familiar to you, as it is used in quite a few movie trailers (such as How to Train Your Dragon II). The business was launched in 2005, specializing in “epic” music for theatrical trailers, television commercials, and video game advertising. I like quite a few of their songs, including “Guardians at the Gate,” “Reaching,” “Equinox,” and “Army of Kings.” My favorite album by them is Chronicles. Not quite as overwhelming as the Staircase from Hades, but good enough for writing.
Some other great epic instrumental music I like are some piano songs, that may be quiet, but majestic and glorious all the same. “All of Me” and “Waterfall” by Jon Schmidt, “What Makes you Beautiful” by the Piano Guys, and “Song for Sienna” by Brian Crain. “Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams from Saving Private Ryan is very sad, and yet there’s that little bit of hope you can hear very distinctly and it gets more sorrowful and majestic as the volume grows.
And, on a more classical note, here is something tried and true that people have found to be the most exceptional epic …
I hope this has helped if you are looking for music to get you in the mood for writing those epic scenes. Even if you don’t write, epic music is great for just listening to anytime. You can check out my YouTube Playlist of epic selections. Is there any music you like to listen to while writing something epic? Or any scene, for that matter? I’d love to hear about new music that others enjoy that I may not have heard of.