Composing music to a theme or mood?

I find that creating an imaginary scene and putting it on paper helps me when composing music for a certain mood or theme. If I create a scenario and hold that image, music immediately starts to flow.

I was having trouble getting started on a cue that I wanted to be tense and mysterious, so I typed out the following and printed it out:

“A lone family portrait sits on the fireplace mantle in an otherwise empty room. Several empty boxes are strewn about the floor. Police tape blocks entry to the room.”

I read it a few times and envisioned the scene in my mind, even to the point of watching a camera pan across the scene. Inspiration soon followed with a creepy and surreal piano phrase beginning the track.

I guess I work best when composing to a visual image. What are your techniques when it comes to composing to a specific theme or mood?

Till next time…

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