Seems like we’ve been very busy the last couple of weeks on Word Wenches, lots of pithy and interesting discussions on all sorts of topics. I’m rushing out to some appointments this morning, so I thought I’d go with a lighter blog –
And while I was thinking about this, I was sitting at my computer listening to music. In fact, most of the time when I’m working, whether it’s writing, taking notes, or reading, I listen to music, usually with headphones. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it’s practically essential for a few reasons. Music helps me block out what’s going on around me, particularly here in the house when my kids are home, or if the neighbors are mowing lawns or blowing leaves, or if the dog is diligently guarding the house from rabbits, squirrels, and the cat who likes to wander across our front lawn and park on the porch (I think this is on purpose just to get the dog riled up).
Even when it’s quiet, I’ll often put on the headphones and listen to CDs while I’m writing. I find it helps me focus. Music with words doesn’t work for me– while working with words, I don’t want to listen to other words that might scramble in my head. I can handle some foreign lyrics, like Gaelic or Italian, but mostly it’s instrumental, and the sort of music that can become a background screen or filter. If I start actually paying attention to the music, that defeats the purpose. Usually what I choose is Celtic, classical or New Age, any sort that will blend with my thinking processes. Harp is great, for example, or quiet violin and poignant fiddle (nothing jumpy, I”ll just want to get up and dance around!). If it has an emotional content, like a movie soundtrack (Last of the Mohicans, Lord of the Rings, or Braveheart are good examples), that can help with writing certain scenes.
I’ll also listen to brain-synchronized tracks, of which I’ve acquired several. I’ve found some of these are great background for writing, reading, taking notes – though some slow me down or make me sleepy, and they get popped out of the stereo right away. Brains, heartbeats, bodies in general will respond to wavelengths and beats in music, and I happen to be very responsive in that way. With the synchronizing sort of music, I find don’t work well in a Beta state, though it’s okay for an editing state. I can write consistently in Alpha, though some of my best writing happens on a Theta level – though this brainwave state will often put people to sleep, it seems to work for me.
So what CDs are in my stereo now, or stacked on the desk?
Alasdair Fraser, Paul Machlis, Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle Volume One (though I skip the reels unless I’m online or editing)
BMG Classics, Pachelbel’s Greatest Hit: the Ultimate Canon
Dougie MacLean, Sunset Song
Dougie MacLean, Perthshire Amber
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Brainwave Suite: Alpha
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Creative Mind System
R.H. Coxon, Prelude to Infinity
Amy Krupski, Celtic Echoes
Gary Stadler, Fairy of the Woods
There’s probably a hundred more CDs in my office, all music that I’ve collected over the years that’s great for writing — for me. It’s all very, very subjective.
Music in my car…now that’s another matter entirely!! Lots of Celtic there too, with words and strong beat encouraged.
Though I once got a speeding ticket while listening to a particularly rousing melody of bagpipes and drums — the “Welcome to the City of Glasgow” on Brave Hearts, a song composed for Nelson Mandela’s visit to Scotland years ago–-it’s a fantastic combination of African and Scottish. Don’t turn this up full volume in your car on a sunny day. When I told the police officer the reason, he actually had a good laugh. But he gave me a ticket anyway. *g*
Irish Princess Barbie and Ken speeding away in the Barbie-mobile….
What about you all — do you listen to music while writing, or while reading? What are some of your favorites? Or do you prefer diving into the book in silence?