Monday, March 29, 2010

Musical food for thought

I never really thought about it much, but it is nigh impossible for me to work without the benefit of music. The itunes library on my computer has a song list that literally lasts for ten straight days if I just left it playing. That’s a lot of tunes. The taste in music is eclectic as well. I listen to a wide, wide range of music in genres across the board, much like I read books in every genre across the board. I enjoy a trashy romance as much as I enjoy a riveting memoir. Likewise I have play lists for music ranging from soft comfy tunes, to harsh angry music I like to play when I am pmsing.

I even have three different play lists of music to write to. One with fast paced, pounding music which I find helps me write action oriented stories, or stories that have to keep up a rhythm. I have a mix of silly fun music that helps me relax into a writing mood, sort of like watching Stranger than Fiction gets those creative juices flowing. And, aaaand, I have a play list specifically for writing academia. I titled it my Mind Meld list, which mostly consists of classical music, certain wordless soundtracks, such as lord of the rings, and for some reason a great deal of Enya. The point of the mind meld list is to provide music without the possible hitch of singing along to my favorite songs, whose lyrics have a bad habit of creeping into my papers. (“Why are the words “Sassy Brat” in the middle of this essay on Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, Kristin?”)

Still I find it interesting this development has taken such firm root in my entire work habit. For as long as I can remember, even back as far as my first “highly” functioning computer in high school, I would slog that thing full of music off of every CD I could jam in there, create this extensive play list that wouldn’t repeat back to the first song for five hours and work all night long to music. It has literally become part of my writing process at this point. With music playing, the typing is smoother, faster, more regimented. I’m not sure what to call such a technique, but I guess each writer has their own methods to their individual madness.

1 comment:

Karen Romano Young said...

This is interesting. I once heard a novelist (Ellen Wittlinger!) give a whole session on the music that inspired her as she was writing -- usually because of its content. Dar Williams while she was writing Parrotfish, about a transgender girl, for example. Then the rest of the novelists in the room had a chance to pipe up about the music we listened to during work. Generally it was soft music without recognizable words: Enya, classical, instrumental jazz. Zzzzzz!!!!

I was one of only two who listened to LOUD things. It didn't matter if it was that Olympian Orff opera, Carmina Burana, or White Stripes, or anything. Although I draw the line at The Beastie Boys or Gilbert & Sullivan because the words are distracting, in general for me the rule is the louder the better, and I like it piped directly into my ears by big headphones. Since my dog chewed up my Bose headphones I have issues because I haven't been able to afford to replace them and nobody else wants to listen to my music. Fortunately my household has changed during the time this has happened so that, for the most part, there aren't at least 5 other people making noise and conversation all around me while I'm writing. But even if they're not, I use the shield of loud music to wall me off from my surroundings so I can just put my head down and concentrate.

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