Listening To Music As You Work

I once worked in a souvenir store in New Zealand, where the owners made retail staff listen to the same 12 tracks on repeat. I worked 10 hour days. They refused to let us listen to anything else, because they’d paid for some sort of licence for those tracks only.

I still can’t listen to any of those songs. Now I consider it a kind of psychological torture, as if working in retail isn’t mind-numbing enough.

Nor can I listen to music of any kind while I write. I wish I could. I’ve tried listening to gentle classical music, but nope, can’t do it.

Art, on the other hand, completely different. If I’ve done my working drawings and I’m getting into the flow, then I can turn the music on and it really adds to my experience. Certain soundtracks become forever linked with certain artworks.

Other people, it turns out, can write quite happily while listening to music.

Episode 57 of the 99% Podcast (What Gave You That Idea?) features an interview with an author who listens to music as he works. He describes one day almost going into a ‘trance’, and when he read back what he had written as he listened, he’d written in a way he’d never imagined possible.

David Gutowski’s site (Largehearted Boy) is a source for daily book and music news, and includes the wonderful Book Notes series, where authors discuss the music that played in the background as they wrote their books.

Also Interesting:

Four questions about the relationship between music and language, a book review from OUP

David Byrne on How Music and Creativity Work from Brainpickings

The Top 100 Running Songs of All Time from Spark People. I definitely can’t exercise without listening to something. Otherwise exercise is as boring as batshit. All bow down to the MP3 player. Because I remember the days when the batteries in a Walkman only lasted for 3hrs worth of playback.

Music to Write By: 10 Top Authors Share Their Secrets for Summoning the Muse from PLOS blogs