Read Around the Rainbow: How does music affect your writing?

I always enjoy reading about how music or sounds influence fellow authors when they are writing. So when music was suggested for this month’s Read Around the Rainbow topic, I was very much looking forward to hearing about everyone’s story playlists or what sounds inspire them to write.

Personally, I was slightly stymied, as at the first sound of music, I’m compelled to get up and dance. As that’s counterproductive to writing, I tend to write in silence! I thought I might have to give this month a miss, but when chatting online to the other lovely authors in the blog ring, we discussed the topic more generally, which gave me a germ of an idea.

My upcoming August story for JMS Books Night or Day submission call is called One Summer Night. It’s set in Regency London, and luckily enough, one of my main characters, Will, is a talented violinist, a profession he is unable to pursue due to his wealthy father’s disapproval. Although Will’s musical accomplishments are a side element to the story, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the popular musical entertainments of the era when researching for this story.

The late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century were prolific for jobbing professional musicians. In London alone, orchestras were in demand, not only for private parties but also for performing in the many theatres, for example, Drury Lane or the Lyceum as well as other venues such as the Pantheon and the Argyll Rooms which hosted exhibitions, masquerades, balls and concerts.

Also, outdoor places of entertainment during the summer months catered for all sections of society and were hugely popular, like Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea (which still exists intact) to Vauxhall Gardens across the River Thames. In 1749 a rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks at Vauxhall attracted an audience of 12,000, and in 1786 a fancy-dress jubilee catered for 61,000 revellers! In her wonderful Regency blog, the author Rachel Knowles has a couple of fascinating articles on the layout of the gardens and the variety of musical entertainments at Vauxhall in that period.

I stumbled across a comprehensive list of musicians who performed at Vauxhall Gardens in its heyday, and unsurprisingly, they were also regularly employed in theatre and assembly room orchestras. London’s live music scene was as vibrant then as it is now!

In One Summer Night, I couldn’t resist mentioning a performance featuring John Addison, a well-known and popular cellist at Vauxhall in the early 1800s. And when my characters attend a concert at The Pantheon on Oxford Street, I had to show Will, my violinist, escaping the confines of a theatre box and braving his father’s fury to mingle with his musical colleagues.

I’m looking forward to reading about the other bloggers discussing actual music!

My post will be linked on the last Friday of every month with posts from fellow blog ring members. There are four other writers blogging in the Read Around the Rainbow Webring this month… find their posts about their musical inspirations and playlists!

Ofelia Grand : Addison Albright : Fiona Glass : K. L. Noone :


11 thoughts on “Read Around the Rainbow: How does music affect your writing?

  1. This sounds absolutely fascinating, Ellie. I’d never really thought about orchestras being required in other settings/venues before but you’re absolutely right – it would have been the only source of musical accompaniment for so many places. And I had to smile at the mention of Vauxhall Gardens as they crop up in Georgette Heyer as a source of general naughtiness from time to time… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I looked at that comprehensive list of musicians and the crossover venues where they performed, it really hit home how much they were in demand! And I always enjoyed Georgette Heyer’s faintly risqué excursions to Vauxhall! If you have a spare moment to follow the link, Rachel Knowles’ article is fascinating. Made me wish we still lived in Vauxhall’s heyday!


  2. How lovely! It’s wonderful when our story research is so interesting, isn’t it?

    […at the first sound of music, I’m compelled to get up and dance. As that’s counterproductive to writing, I tend to write in silence!] — Ha! I generally have difficulty writing while music is playing, too, but depending on the scene, maybe dancing around to the right music could be perfect fuel for the muse?

    Liked by 1 person

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