Friday, October 21, 2011

Scoring the Right Music

Much has been written of late about music and the writer. I’d never put my mind to the question before this past couple of months. Suddenly everyone wants to know what others listen to when they’re writing. 

Some prefer to hear nothing while their minds struggle to put precise words onto the screen or the paper. I could not do that on a regular basis. I have specific music that I listen to when I need to shut out the world while composing whatever prose or poetry is destined to flow from my fingertips. 

Kitaro's or Deuter's fabulous CDs work well when in that dreamy, contemplative phase of creation strikes. For those lively stories that demand lots of movement, Andes Manta fills the headphones with Ecuadorian life and celebration. I highly recommend this group or ones like them for fast paced writing. For op-ed work, pipes and drums come to mind or something very martial in attitude—one of the classical works, perhaps. Mannheim Steamroller is an impressive incentive type music, too.

I’ve tried music with voices raised in song. I can’t do it—too distracting. I want music, but only instrumentals. Relaxation, meditation, or sound effects CDs will work as well--for poetry, especially. 

When I think about those writers of centuries ago, I wonder what filled their ears while their fingers were busy with quill and parchment or vellum. Did they come to the point of screaming at the distraction of rowdy children squealing and running below their window? I tend to doubt they hired minstrels to come play for them during working hours. 

What did Homer hear while penning his masterpieces? Was it only the surf pounding against the rocky shoreline, or splashing against the sides of ships at anchor? Did Tennyson or Bryon, Melville or Hawthorne wait for the appropriate strains of music before risking their brilliance to the permanence of ink on paper?  

Somehow I doubt it. 

Our times dictate most of what we do and how we do it. Many of us can no longer envision a life without a ready connection to others thousands of miles away that takes less than the flick of a thought to bring into your space. We’re spoiled by our now. 

And yet, I wonder if we recognize our now when we’re in it. How many of us are actually aware of an instant of thought or inspiration? How many take the opportunity to breathe deeply of a rose’s perfume before strolling off to our next encounter? And how many are aware of what they missed today because their chosen writing instruments and music have kept them prisoner behind a screen.

You tell me.

Until later,



  1. I write best in silence. However, I did just put together a playlist of songs that match the mood of my novel. I'm going to try playing it (softly) as I tackle revisions. We'll see how it works. . .

  2. I'm glad you're willing to give it a try. I'd be interested in knowing how the experience goes for you.

    I began using music to filter out street noise and other people's conversations. Headphones work great as a sound barrier, at least for me.

    It might be that you will use it only when doing your email and correspondence to help set you up for an active writing session.

    Drop by and let me tell me how it goes. Good luck.