Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Words and Music

I really wanted to get the damn pics up from the Navajo rug auction & band, but blogger just isn't cooperating. Which means I'll just be blathering instead. Not all that different than usual, I guess.

I've been thinking about music and writing - probably because a friend asked for music suggestions along a theme/mood. I know writers have varying ideas about what works for them - some people only write to music w/o words, others prefer silence and some have specific bands/songs they listen to when they're working. Some like it really loud, others go for a quieter approach.

I tend to use songs that go with the mood or sense of place of the piece I'm working on, and I like to keep the volume fairly low. I also use (don't laugh, dammit!) 2 CD's by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson - "Awakened Mind" and "Creative Mind System 2.0." I call the Thompson CD's my "lingling" music because they sounds kinda sleepy/meditative. I don't know that his "brain science" approach does jack to "awaken" my "creative mind," but the tracks don't have words, and the long open sounds don't get in the way when my brain is in leap-frog mode. I've got them loaded into iTunes & just put them on loop for a couple hours of droning sound.

The novel I'm working on has pretty much been written to Lucinda Williams (all her albums, played consecutively) with occasional bouts of Ryan Adams, Fat Boy Slim or Digweed. I know, I know. What on earth do "alternative" country/Americana artists have to do with the dj rave/dance mixes? Umm. I dunno, but that's what's been working for me. Weird, but true.

Another strange one is that I work just fine with music with words - as long as I know the songs very, very well. I actually catch myself singing along as I'm writing. Odd to be singing "Concrete and Barbed Wire" (Lucinda Williams) while writing about a eating dinner at the park. Absolutely no connection to the scene, but that's what makes it work. The mood of the scene works with the tone of the album, so it makes creative sense (at least to me!). On the other hand, I can't listen to new music and write at the same time. It's just too distracting.

So there it is. I know everyone has their own way of working and choosing the music for their work. It's fascinating to me how writers pull from all the arts to create their process. Music, art, observation, intuition, empathy all come into play in the written word. I think that's pretty damn cool.

9 Comments:

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Amra Pajalic said...

I listen to Jackson Brown when I'm writing an emotional scene. Really gets me going.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger Christian said...

Thanks to the miracle invention of the .mp3 player, I actually have different playlists for every project I work on. Music is great for setting mood. In fact, I am incapable of working in silence.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Can you email me a copy of that creative mind thingy? My own seems to have taken a gander.

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger angie said...

Hey Amra, any particular Jackson Browne album or songs, or just whatever comes to mind? Eternally curious about the process different writers use.

I like using playlists off iTunes - just start 'em up and let 'em go.

So your creative mind's gone on a walk-about? Lol, Mindy.

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger M.E Ellis said...

Oooh, can't have music on when writing. Would sing to it and lose my concentration.

I can write with the TV blaring, the kids screaming, the cat wailing, though.

Weird!

:o)

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I think the musical influences on writers are one of the things I enjoy the most.

I listened to a lot of country when I wrote Suspicious Circumstances. Do not ask me why... (as in, I haven't got a clue.)

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger C. Atrox said...

Yes, lyrical music is tough to listen to while writing...but Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon" usually works.

 
At 7:25 AM, Blogger Stephen Blackmoore said...

For me it's a lot of Massive Attack. Though if there's violence, the Crystal Method works pretty well.

Thing is, I can't start writing to music. I have to get into a groove and then turn it on. Otherwise I can't get started. Weird.

 
At 10:04 AM, Blogger angie said...

See, that's why this is such a cool topic. Everybody is so different! I don't think I could write a word with the television on - too many fast edits of shiny things mixed with kabooms & stingers. And starting a short story or novel in silence is a little too much like the blank page - often leads to me running screaming and cursing from the computer. Guess we all make our creative hoo-doo.

 

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