Something that I have realized about myself lately is that music is very important to me. Now that is not very odd at all. Music is important to a lot of people, but I am not musical at all. I have never been musical, nor can I play any instrument (not proficiently, anyway). Other than piano lessons when I was little (lesson that I hated every minute of) I have never been exposed to the mechanics of music. That is still somewhat of a mystery to me.
However, I love music and I have what could be charitably described as an eclectic taste in it. I have a wide ranging interest from Classical to Heavy Metal, from Top 40 to obscure Indie bands to Jazz and, of course, the Blues.
I have to have music while I write. The music that’s playing doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do stylistically or thematically with what I’m writing, but when it happens it is a nice bit of serendipity. One of the greatest things to happen to music in the 21st century, I think, is the advent of itunes.
itunes, and the attendant technology of the ipod, is like a great big musical melting pot. Into the mix goes everything I like — every .mp3 file that I can buy, beg, borrow, download, copy, whatever — it all goes into the mix.
I like to have the “shuffle” feature on which plays files randomly. I have no idea what’s going to come up but it’s all my music and I listen indiscriminately. I know some folks (my wife and daughter for example) who have the shuffle feature on but will skip songs they don’t want to listen to. I prefer to listen to whatever comes my way whether I am in the “mood” for it or not. I let it wash over me.
I’m not big on lyrics or the meaning of songs. I find I can’t decipher most lyrics anyway, so I just enjoy the feeling that each piece gives me. The combination of tunes, the juxtaposition of different — sometimes discordant — musical styles is surprisingly stimulating. Robert Johnson, The Walkmen, The soundtrack from Torchwood, Jethro Tull,Wagner, Adele. The Moody Blues. Nina Simone, XTC, Lenny White, Klaatu, Arctic Monkeys, Black Sabbath — It all mixes up like a musical jambalaya.
Naturally I have some I like better than others but on the whole it’s all good and I find it helps the writing process when the words stop flowing like white hot lave. The music can help stimulate it and take it in surprising directions.
So the question is: do you write to music? Does it help the work to have a particular kind of music, or do you listen to an eclectic mix? Or do you need to write in silence?
Or do you just like music, period? What’s some of your favorite music?