Mid-Week Review: TWO STEPS FROM HELL (music)

Morning, bloggerinos!  Well, the summer weeks are marching on, with proof being the mountains of school supplies I saw during a recent shopping trip.  It's amazing to see stores mobilize for 'Back To School'; it's like a military grade deployment, with dozens of workers scurrying about trying to make sure all of the binders, pens, etc. get put out for easy access.

The nerd in me still gets a little excited about the start of the school year, but I think that has more to do with the beginning of fall and end of the heat.   Well, at least for those of you who don't live in South Texas ...  Regardless, school is about a month away, so I had better get down to business!



Writers vary greatly when it comes to external stimuli during their writing time.  Specifically, some like to listen to music, and others don't.  Stephen King recommends in his book, On Writing, that writers should never listen to music when writing, and basically seclude themselves from all distractions.  J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, says her most productive writing is done at coffee shops with external noises and music (as long as the music isn't too loud, she amends).

Within the ranks of those that listen to music while they write, it seems there is a lot of variance.  Some like the music loud and edgy, some can't do music with vocals, some like it barely audible, and still others match the music to their mood or even the content they are writing.

I definitely fall into the 'likes to listen to music while I write' category.  I do most of my writing at home alone, but try to sneak out to local shops when I can.  When I'm home alone, it can get a little too quiet, and when it does, my mind tends to stray from the task at hand.  I've found music can really help keep me inspired and zipping along with whatever I'm working on.

Now, I do have stipulations on my writing music.  First (and foremost) is there can be no, or very few, lyrics.   I don't do well with words other than my own floating around in my brain when I'm trying to put together sentences.  Second, I can't have the music overly loud, as I definitely have a threshold when it comes to my attention span.  I like the music to be mood/writing specific, but it doesn't have to be.  That leads me to my final requirement: the music has to inspire me in some way.  Maybe it makes me think of seasons, or takes me back to a fantastic movie experience, but whatever it does it needs to make me want to create.

All of that being said, it's probably no surprise that I listen to a lot of movie scores while I write.  They typically won't have tons of lyrics (mostly orchestral), and the very best ones take me mentally right back to my theater seat to where/when I first experienced the movie.  Some of my favorites are: Lord of the Rings (total art/nerd crush on Howard Shore, btw), Finding Neverland, Master and Commander, Memoirs of the Geisha (or anything John Williams has ever done), and most recently Avatar.  I have hundreds of movie soundtracks, but those are the ones I return to time and again.


That brings me to my latest find: Two Steps From Hell.   They are basically a music production company that specializes in making music for movie trailers (and some video games, too).  They've done work for tons of movies, some that you might recognize are: 2012, Percy Jackson, Prince of Persia, Watchmen, New Moon, Sherlock Holmes, Young Victoria, Salt, Angels and Demons, Ice Age, Up, The Dark Knight, Prince Caspian, Wall E, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  You can check out their entire list of credits on the webpage linked above, and it will blow you away.

As you can tell by the list, their music is very sweeping, and utterly massive in scale.  Think of the most exciting and/or moving moments in the movies listed above, and that's what Two Steps aims to re-create with music.  Obviously, they do so quite masterfully or they wouldn't get to score the trailers for such blockbuster movies.

I recently downloaded their album, Invincible, from iTunes and found it to be superb.  (You can get it from Amazon MP3, here.)  They layer haunting vocals and choir arraignments with driving percussion, balance powerful horns with subtle strings, and generally do everything to perfection.  If your pulse doesn't rise after one listen, you might be dead.  


You love movies, classical music, or are just looking for something fresh and inspiring to play in the background as you write.        


  1. I've been doing a psychology series on my blog, and I think the reason people disagree about music has to do with their preferred methods of perception and learning.

    If you're a strong auditory learner/ prefer aural perception, then you're sensitive to noise, and it's a distraction. If you're a tactile learner, you need noise, because you find it difficult to do only one thing at a time.

  2. I've been keeping up with your series, Claire. As a counselor/psychology educated person, it's good stuff!

    I would make one counter argument, however; I'm without a doubt an auditory learner. In all my years of college, I rarely had to do anything but show up and listen to lectures, taking only very few notes. If I heard it, I remembered it. That being said, I probably fall somewhere in between, because there are certain things that I much prefer to learn by putting my hands on rather than being told how to do it. (Pretty much anything to do with computers I need to actually DO IT before it'll sink in.)


  3. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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