Justine: Mood Music Playlists for Writing Sad Scenes

working to musicI know several of the Eight Ladies (myself included) have used music playlists for writing, either because it “goes” with the book they’re writing or, like with me, there’s a certain Mozart playlist that generates a Pavlovian response within me to write. When I hear the music, my inner storyteller kicks in.

This is all well and good except the music I listen to is pretty upbeat (for Mozart, anyway) and I was having a hard time getting into the right mood to write some really dark, painful, sad scenes (not my typical mojo).

So I pulled up Google and searched “saddest classical music” and the first hit that came up was from classicfm.com, complete with a snippet of the music. Almost every suggestion they made was perfect. I downloaded their recommendations and it made it so easy for me to slip into the right mood to write the sad, catastrophic scenes I had to write (think Napoleonic War, death of a twin brother, then telling your parents your brother died…that sort of thing). I’ve listed classicfm.com’s recommendations at the bottom of this post (with links to preview the songs).

Now that I have a “sad writing music” playlist (that’s literally what I called it), I need to make a few more. “Happy writing music” and “seductive writing music” definitely come to mind. I think “scary writing music” isn’t a bad idea, either.

What do you think? Have you made a mood-specific playlist to help with your writing? How well did it work for you?

Eight Lady Writing News

On a professional note, my redesigned website is now up and running! Check it out at www.justinecovington.com, particularly if you love Regency historicals. AND if you sign up for my (infrequent, I promise) newsletter, I’ll send you a link to download a newly released free backstory prequel to my debut novel His Lady to Protect, coming in 2019.

Sometimes you have to go through Hell to claim your Heaven…

snake winding its way around a practical female hand holding an apple

Don’t forget to check out fellow Eight Lady Jeanne Oates Estridge’s debut novel The Demon Always Wins, now available at Amazon. (Did I mention the book has FIVE STARS?)

Here’s ClassicFM.com’s 10 Best Classical Music Tear-Jerkers

Sono andati (from La Boheme) by Giacomo Puccini
Who doesn’t love Puccini? He’s also a great go-to for love songs!


Requiem Mass in D minor by Mozart
By definition, a requiem is a mass for the repose of the souls of the dead. Enough said.


Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber
You’ll recognize some of these melodies from the movie Platoon.


Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni
I wasn’t as impressed with the “sadness factor” of this one, but you might hear it differently.


Come, Sweet Death by Bach
This one made it near the top of my playlist.


Serenade for Strings, Second Movement by Edward Elgar
This is a wonderfully sobering piece of music.


Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Henryk Gorecki
By far, these were the most sorrowful of all the sad pieces I listened to. Gorecki was inspired to write this after reading the messages left by an 18-year old prisoner in a Gestapo prison.


Dido’s Lament (When I Am Laid In Earth, from Dido and Aeneas) by Henry Purcell
Of all the songs, this one probably affected me the least.


Symphony No. 6, Fourth Movement by Tchaikovsky
One of the great classical minds, IMHO. He’s good at squeezing your heart.


V’ho ingannato (from Rigoletto) by Giuseppe Verdi
This wasn’t quite as somber as the Puccini selection, but it’s still tear-worthy.



8 thoughts on “Justine: Mood Music Playlists for Writing Sad Scenes

  1. Sad music-wise, I love Mozart’s Requiem, but just about anybody’s requiem will do the trick for me. I have Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor, too. A composition that I find to be a total tear-jerker is Arvo Part’s “Te Deum.” He wrote this after viewing one of the Holocaust sites—I think Dachau. Try a sample! I really recommend it. I play a lot of sad classical music on Sundays, don’t ask me why.

    I wrote my first three novels to a three-CD set of 1950s and 1960s pop music, all of it “classic” now. (Think Bill Haley and the Comets, The Platters, The Drifters, The Supremes, Leslie Gore, Buddy Holly, etc.) It was super bouncy and fun, and every time I turned it on, which was every minute I sat down to write, I played the three CDs, one after the other, over and over. I shudder to think how many hours that was. And I haven’t played it since, not once in 10 or 15 years, however long it’s been. Still have it, though. Maybe I’ll drag it out of retirement….

    • I will definitely check out your recommendation. IMHO, you can’t have too much sad music. I think I’d get tired of listening to the same thing all the time, particularly if it’s so depressing. Although I didn’t have a problem with the regular writing playlist I set up a few years ago. Lately, though, I’ve just been tuning into the Baroque channel on Pandora and that’s done the trick for me pretty well.

      Haha, I think you SHOULD pull those CDs out and see what happens! Who knows, a new book may fly from your fingertips!

  2. Lovely! I did have a couple of lists on my YouTube; crying and rain songs — rain songs almost always seem to be about sad things (-:. There are a few joyous exceptions (I love a rainy night, what a beautiful sight!), but generally . . . .

    You inspired me to do a little adding to my lists. For my birthday, my husband gave me a Natalie Merchant songbook, and there’s a gorgeous song called “Verdi Cries” which is so melancholy — the lyrics aren’t really that sad, just nostalgic. And, there’s an old west coast jazz number that I love. “Cottage for Sale” (the version by Charles Brown) is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Wh384ByM4 The version by Chuck Berry is also worth searching for. It’s a sad story about a cottage for sale — whether the lover is female or male, dead or just abandoned . . . that’s all up to us.

    And I have to add a David Bowie one. “She’ll Drive the Big Car” is sad, but with a purpose. It acknowledges a certain anger that often tinges one’s sadness, both in the rhythms and in the lyrics.

  3. Maybe I can be an honorary “Lady.” I love your advice here. Für Elise would have to be my highbrow choice for sad music. In rock or popular music, Harry Chapin owns me for sad songs, “Cats in the Cradle” and “The Shortest Story,” especially, but there are so many others. Also, “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush always makes me tear up, and I don’t know why.

    • I love Harry Chapin. I keep playing “Cats in the Cradle” for my husband so he’ll get the hint and maybe not work so much, but he’s either ignoring me or it’s flying over his head. I love “The Shortest Story,” too. There are a few songs from Hamilton that make me cry every time, namely “It’s Quiet Uptown.” Ugh. I always sob at that one. I also can’t help but cry when listening to “Ode to Joy,” but for a completely different reason.

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