Creating the Story Playlist

There are some stories that we can see playing in our heads; we can see the cinematic sequence of every fight, of every kiss, betrayal, victory, and defeat. And as we play these movies through our heads, what do we hear?

You can visualize the actions and scenes playing in time as your eyes scan the page. Our senses are interconnected with each other, and when we attempt to visualize scenes and characters we also piece together other senses in order to recreate the world in our minds; smell, taste, touch, and sound.

One of the largest homages to stories by quantity seen within the last decade have been music playlists. Fans and creators create these to try and replicate a bit of the story they have invested themselves in with the sound that comes close to what they can hear when embracing these narratives.

If you make a music playlist for your own story, what do you imagine? Are you looking for something your characters would listen to? What fits their personality best? What would match the progression of your story? There are a thousand ways to approach music and none of them are wrong. Music as a medium has as many rules as the English language, inconsistent and ever-shifting with patterns that emerge and disappear within the span of a year.

For example, say you want to make a playlist to help you write a character as they change throughout the story. You need to be in touch with the character’s emotions as well as their actions through the narrative to create a playlist that is as dynamic as the character.

Once you have your theme its time to pick your music. Easy right? You can choose to throw songs together, or you can go with cohesion. There’s over a million songs, but patterns appear in many of them. Finding ones that match the playlist theme and how you want it to work can be difficult. One trick to remember is that almost anything in a Major key is upbeat, while Minor keys are often sad or creepy. While this might seem like a very technical detail, it’s useful for identifying the mood of the song and what instruments will likely appear.

Find common themes with music, be it the driving rhythm, instrument use, or even lyrics. They won’t all be the same, but once you find similarities in your music you can string them together into a musical story that you will listen to over and over and find yourself thinking of your story while listening, even with your fingers off the keyboard or pen.

Now that you have an idea of what songs you want, how do you categorize them? You might already have a collection of music, but you want to have them organized, maybe you even want to share your thoughts on your story with the music you discovered. Luckily, the Internet has made the world a much more connected place and loves those who love music. Here are a few recommended websites to start your playlists:

  • Youtube: Youtube has the capability of creating playlists of music, as well as clips from other shows and movies. While it can be used for playlists, it’s not particularly popular for music. Lovely for the sheer amount of content.
  • 8tracks: This site allows users to upload music and search from their database for music. This is also one of the best for finding other’s playlists, which can be searched by artist or even show/novel/movie. Be warned, they do have a 1-hour per day limit on listening unless you upgrade to premium. Wonderful for discovering music.
  • Playmoss: 8tracks successor after the listening limit was placed on it; Playmoss has the search ability of 8tracks where the user places videos from Youtube into playlists. Some videos from Youtube will not play on Playmoss and there is a limit of 15 tracks to add to a playlist, however, tracks from other’s playlists can be added onto your own. Great for community sharing.
  • Spotify: The largest music variety of any of the options with music being their focus and artists often releasing singles through Spotify. However, it does not have the community strength that the other websites have and isn’t quite up to Youtube’s quantity. Best for personal use.

Story playlists are extremely personal things to involve yourself in. They are a blend of your personal tastes in music with the story that you have seen playing over and over in your head like a silent movie that is coming to life in Technicolor. Enjoy the adventure of discovering new music and expanding your story’s world.