Writing to Music: New Recommendations

I write to music.

When I’m working on a particular project, I create playlists which are thematically appropriate to the project in question, and those are my accompaniment as I write. For example, my Far West writing playlist currently features nearly 800 tracks — enough to play for a day and a half without repeats.

Perhaps that’s a bit excessive. But it’s how I work.

I know of a number of other writers who work to music as well, and so I figured that I’d occasionally blog about recent acquisitions suitable for this task, that I’d like to recommend.

First up, I was pleased as hell to see that they’ve finally decided to release a soundtrack album for the cancelled AMC television series Rubicon. The show started strongly — a perfect tonal flashback to the paranoid conspiracy-espionage tales of the 1970s, but the wheels completely came off the tracks. I’ve never seen a show experience such a complete case of dramatic collapse, and it was a real shame, since the start was so promising. One of the best things about the show was the score, by Peter Nashel.

Here’s the original title sequence (unfortunately, embed-disabled, so click here).

Another AMC series has provided a soundtrack that has been added to my Far West playlist — the score to Hell on Wheels by Kevin Kiner and Gustavo Santaolalla. The show is no Deadwood, but it’s a solid western, and has improved over its second season. The music is always a high point — I’m also hoping that they choose to release a soundtrack featuring the non-score music used in the show, which is often excellent (my Far West playlist has a few tracks which I tracked down based entirely on my introduction to them through the show).
Here’s an extended cut of the main theme:


Another entry for the Far West playlist is the score for a much-awaited kung-fu fantasy being directed by RZA (Wu-Tang Clan member, crafter of soundtracks for Ghost Dog and Afro Samurai, and fellow asian-film afficianado). The Man With the Iron Fists will also have a hip-hop-heavy soundtrack (of the “music from and inspired by” variety), but they’ve just released the actual film score, composed by RZA and Howard Drossin, featuring traditional instrumentation, occasionally mixed with sampling of everything from kung fu movie music to classic Wu-Tang tracks. A sampler of the entire score can be heard here:

So what about you? What do you listen to as you write? Post your recommendations below.

Tour De Bond Revisited: 007 Reloaded

Long-time readers will recall that in 2010, I did a series of entries on this blog called the Tour de Bond, where I examined each of Ian Fleming’s James Bond Novels in publication order. I thought I’d give a brief return to that series today, since AudioGo, the home of BBC Audiobooks, has a new series of James Bond audios under the title “007 Reloaded.” The unabridged audiobooks, available for download or on CD, are read by some truly stellar performers. Samples of each are available below.

Unfortunately, for fans outside of the UK, these samples will have to suffice, because AudioGo has only made these available for purchase in the UK — even the downloadable versions are region-locked, which is frankly ridiculous in this day and age. Rather than making it simple and legal for non-UK fans to give them money, they’ve instead guaranteed that these audiobooks will be ripped and torrented and distributed for free worldwide.

…and that’s a shame. We want to give you our money, AudioGo. Let us do it.

Casino Royale, read by Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens:
Live and Let Die read by Rory Kinnear:
Moonraker read by Bill Nighy:
Diamonds are Forever read by Homeland star Damian Lewis:
From Russia With Love read by Toby Stephens (the villain from Die Another Day, who also portrays Bond in the BBC Radio adaptations)
Doctor No read by Hugh Quarshie (probably best known here in the US as Captain Panaka in The Phantom Menace)
Goldfinger, read by Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville:
Thunderball read by Lucius Malfoy himself, Jason Isaacs:
The Spy Who Loved Me read by Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost in Die Another Day):
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ready by David Tennant:
You Only Live Twice read by Martin Jarvis
The Man With the Golden Gun read by Kenneth Branagh:

Insurgent Creative: Shapeways

3D printing is growing. You’ve probably seen it starting to get coverage in mainstream media — but that’s nothing like the storm that’s coming over the next 5 years. It’s going to replace unauthorized media downloads as the number one hot-button issue for corporate copyright panic. 3D models shared online can lead to endless perfect replications of physical objects. The genie is already out of the bottle, but only a few have realized it. One startup that has realized it is Shapeways.

The 3D printer world is currently dominated by the 21st century equivalent of Radio Shack hobbyists, who use devices like the Makerbot (which I covered in this entry from January of this year). A low-end, consumer version 3D printer costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000, give or take factoring in the raw materials to be used for printing. Certainly affordable as a specialty item, but limiting. Only certain materials are available, and your production is limited in size and complexity.

Insurgent CreativeShapeways is a service provider — they offer production of your 3D models on a variety of industrial (rather than consumer) 3D printers, in a staggering array of materials including glass and metal, as well as also offering Etsy-style storefronts for creators to sell their wares, and forums for communication between members, sharing 3D designs, and more. The image on the upper left, for example, are three starship miniatures (the 29mm Alliance Pursuit Frigate by user “admiralducksauce”).

Here’s a promotional video from the folks at Shapeways:

The site offers tutorials on all aspects of 3D design, using most 3D programs with Shapeways, tips on materials, finishing, running a storefront on Shapeways, and more. There is a constantly-updated blog with creator spotlights, news, tips, etc.

For any Insurgent Creative looking to have their ideas produced as three-dimensional real-world objects, Shapeways is the way to go. It’s already being used for the production of gaming miniatures, toys, jewelry, household goods, and art. The potential here is astounding. Pricing per-unit is definitely in the “print on demand” scale — you’re not going to get your costs down low enough to enter into a traditional wholesale distribution system, but for direct-to-consumer business? Damn near perfect.