Soundtracks to Write To, Vol.2
For as long as I can remember, my dad insisted on playing classical music while I studied. He assured me that it would help me retain information, focus better, and relax a bit while I worked. I didn’t really believe him – at least not entirely – until I was an International Baccalaureate student in my last two years of high school. Before my month of final exams, the radio was almost constantly turned to a classical music station, and as he and I went over and over the details of the causes of World War I or the (several) mistakes of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the peacefulness of classical music was ever-present, never overwhelming or distracting me but simply helping me float from topic to topic.
When I went to university, I kept up this habit but made it into my own; I moved into film soundtracks and a bit of modern instrumental music mixed in with traditional classical. As Olivia covered most of the well-known period film soundtracks in her fantastic list (the 2005 Pride and Prejudice soundtrack is my all-time favourite to write to – I can hear it in my head as I type this), I’d like to add a few different soundtracks and albums to the mix.
Ratatouille, Michael Giacchino – Ratatouille is my favourite Pixar film, and the soundtrack is calming and delightful. It evokes stunning Parisian imagery while reminding you that if a rat can cook, you can write your essay! (…or something along those lines.)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Howard Shore – I wrote so much of my undergrad thesis to this soundtrack that watching the film itself never fails to remind me of my final year in university. I especially loved writing to “Concerning Hobbits,” which is light, playful, and hopeful - things I was most certainly not at that time.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Nicholas Hooper – Of all the Harry Potter soundtracks, I find this one to be the least reminiscent of the title theme, which can be quite distracting to me (I typically prefer to listen to music without lyrics, but the Harry Potter theme essentially counts for lyrics!). It’s slightly spooky, best paired with rainy weather and writing by hand.
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat – Desplat is my favourite film composer of all time, and this soundtrack is so incredible – the title track is so emotive and thrilling, making you feel as though your writing might just be the key to cracking the Nazi code.
Outlander, Bear McCreary – I love Outlander SO MUCH. The Season 1 soundtrack is a revelation; just like in the show, you feel as if you have been sent back to another time.
Nightbook, Ludovico Einaudi – Einaudi is a piano mastermind. I must have listened to “The Snow Prelude No. 15” a thousand times while studying for my master’s degree. Each of his albums bring the right peacefulness that writing requires, especially if you’re coming to the end of an essay or your thesis. He knows just how to take the edge off.
Takk…, Sigur Rós - Sigur Rós are an Icelandic group best known for their song “Hoppípolla”; their 2005 album “Takk…” takes you to another world. This is some of the only lyrical music I can listen to while writing – probably because the lyrics are in Icelandic, a language I know nothing of.
Lauren Olmeda holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international relations. She is an editor based in Dublin, Ireland and is Editor-at-Large of the Attic on Eighth