Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pandora's box of songs: music to write by

Lucky is the person who can write a short story while listening to the Rolling Stones or a Bach fugue. Or who, like my spouse, can write at the computer while listening to rock music and watching TV sports from the corner of his eye.

I've never been able to listen to music and also do anything that involves a computer or a pen. Apparently my brain doesn't multi-task that way. I write best in a quiet house.

Yet sometimes the quiet gets to me. I think of all the songs that I'll never hear because the part of my brain that writes or types is too demanding of my full attention. So, I've been searching for music that would provide a pleasant sonic background my brain won't rebel against.

It was easy to eliminate disco/techno, folk songs, and any music with lyrics. But even slow, sweeping orchestral music was too demanding.

Finally, through trial and error, I've discovered that I can write to piano music. As long as the piano is the main instrument, and there are not a lot of other sounds alongside it, my brain doesn't get distracted. I don't know if this is true for other writers, or just me. Perhaps only the sound of the clarinet will do for someone else, the french horn for another.

Maybe it's because the motion of fingers traveling across a computer keyboard and a piano keyboard are kind-of the same?

I have created a "Piano Music" station on Pandora Radio. When Pandora asked for a "seed" artist or song, I typed "Keith Jarrett" and "Glenn Gould." It has since persuaded me to add Bill Evans and other jazz pianists, as well as Chopin and Erik Satie, and it is still trying to steer me toward Philip Glass. Miraculously, I've mostly heard piano music on this station, having only to occasionally say no to the rare symphony. (I moved Beethoven to his own station, since it hurt to give him a thumbs down).

If you'd like to hear my station, (I think this will work) you can go to: . If this doesn't work, you can create your own station, with similar parameters. Happy listening!

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