Monday, January 30, 2012

The power of music

A question that writers and other artists get asked often, or will answer anyway even if they're not asked, is what type of music they work by.

I used to play some music - often classical, sometimes rock - when I was painting, but I almost never played music when I was writing.

One of the main reasons I don't listen to music when I write is that I love to sing. If I'm listening to rock, or other singable tunes (and I loooove me my Nat King Cole), I'm 99% certain to sing along. Even if I'm listening to classicals, I will end up whistling along....or, even worse, start conducting.

Singing or whistling or conducting isn't conducive or helpful to writing.

Recently, while doing laundry, a tune popped into my head and I began to whistle it. One minute, I'm my current pushing-50 self taking down laundry, next minute, I'm having teen spring fever, itching to get out of my horrible high school so I can attend university.

The song was Steve Winwood's While You See a Chance. It came out sometime in my junior or senior year. While it wasn't like I was a huge fan of the song, it transported me back to the time in my life when I heard it often. And there I was again, feeling all antsy and uncomfortable with myself as I did back when I was 17, 18.

That was when I realized that the other main reason why I can't listen to songs while writing: if I listen to songs I know, I can't stay inside my story. Heck, I can't even stay inside my present, very real, and very satisfying life. Music, like scents, for me, immediately transport me to a different place and time and, usually, a huge wave of homesickness washes over me, even if that place and time was not nearly as happy as my current state (such as the example above: I really hated my high school).

Does this happen to you or can you work well with music?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott


Michelle said...

Yes. It does happen. When I write I have to listen to nature music (waves, rain, etc...) or native american flute/drumming.

Sometimes a song with words will help me write, if I need to get into a particular mood. If I know a song can trigger an emotion, than I'll listen to it as I write, otherwise I can't.

I get distracted by music more now than ever. I think it's getting older. I always listen to music when I clean and lately songs from my childhood have brought back memories I thought long forgotten. It is weird. That is the one thing I love though about cleaning and listening to music is the great distraction that it is... but not good when writing.

Epicure68 said...

I love listening to music when I'm doing things, but I've learned to realize that music, no matter what genre, doesn't work if I have to concentrate. You've had to deal with my leaving off mid-sentence or writing the wrong thing because I'm listening to the radio.That and if the song's really catchy, then I just want to get up and dance. ;)

Anonymous said...

I like to listen to nature music, jazz [instrumental] and/or ... are you ready for this? ... Christmas music [with/without words] when I'm writing. [I can listen to Christmas music year 'round.]
I cannot listen to the radio, music with words, or instrumental music of songs I know because I also sing along. As you know, my concentration level is a LITTLE low. *lol*


Name: Holly Bowne said...

I wish, Wish, WISH I could listen to music while I write! Like you, music transports me. Just like you I'm either conducting, singing, or...I'm imagining entire scenarios: spy scenes, mixed-martial arts action scenes, romance scenes. Which would be a good thing, but unfortunately I simply can't do two things at once. I'm either in the moment with the music, or I'm writing. I can't have it both ways. :o(