Monday, August 9, 2010

Music to write to, or a distraction?

Sometimes a tune, or several of them in a row to be more precise, playing in the background can be inspirational when writing. They can help me focus on the writing, make sure I don't hear the phone ringing or the dogs barking as long as the volume is turned up, and so on.

On other occasions though, the music - or more particularly, the lyrics - can be a massive distraction. I first discovered this curiosity about 12 years ago when I was studying for my Leaving Cert, with Nirvana, Pixies, Pearl Jam and so on blasting from the stereo. As I wrote notes, the lyrics would magically find their way into what I was writing. I could have sworn I was writing only about the life cycle of the liver fluke or the properties of ethanol, but somehow the occasional sentence bore more resemblance to the majestic poetry of Kurt Cobain than the contents of my biology or chemistry textbooks.

It was around then that I realised that I might not be the best person when it comes to multitasking. But shhh! Don't tell anyone.

Sometimes another distraction when using music while writing is just choosing the playlist. I could spend ages going through my CDs, or lining up a youtube playlist. When I've finally chosen my music, I'm in need of a break!

An alternative is to just flick the radio on - but there are several downsides to this. The main ones are:
1. Most chart music is so awful it will distract me to the point where I won't write the lyrics down instead of my own words, I will use the pen to stab myself in the eardrum.
2. There might be things like news on the radio, which tend to distract me by making me angry at politicians, corporations, and the various wide ranging types of bullshit that happens all across the world.

So often, when I write, I don't bother listening to music. Which is a pity, as I do love music. Still, it saves a lot of hassle when editing!


() said...

I have a trick for this, works at the office, in the classroom, so I guess it works when your alone, Foreign Death Metal, now, don't know if you like the death metal, but the foreign'ness (?) is the key, you cannot understand a thing they are saying, and you just get carried by the tune, it removes the distractions, and allows you to focus.. love it! (1)

There is not much that can compare to the noise of a class full of bored assholes "pretending" to learn something.. so a bit of metal blasting into my eardrums allowed me to code in peace!


Basically anything that is hard to understand.
The idea is not to "listen" so much as "experience".. Become the Peace at the centre of the storm.. ;-)
Recommended artists:
Children of Bodom
Dream Evil
Crystal Eyes
In Flames
HORSE the band
Lamb of God
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Devil Wears Prada
3 Inches of Blood
Killswitch Engage


Joleen said...

Ah, now that might actually be something that sis has a load of foreign folk metal, might try to borrow some of her cds!

() said...

Just realised this morning (is it sad that I was thinking about this while driving?) that pretty much any instrumental music would do as well..

Or.. Japanese Pop music.. wow.. worth a listen just for the cringe factor!

Joleen said...

Hmm...well someone did buy me a CD of classical music....but that just seems too grown up for me to listen to, somehow! I see what you mean though.