If writing is my occupation, music is my constant companion, my influential passion. It’s with me wherever I go – the car, the mp3 player, the docking station next to my PC. I even have speakers incorporated into my pillow so I can listen to music in bed…. if that’s what I need. Music is very much a need, a necessity for both motivation and contemplation.
I don’t seek inspiration from music, but I do like to match the mood of what I write to what I listen to. Lyrics interfere. I can’t process words in my ear while writing them with my eyes and fingers and consequently, I rely on instrumental compositions to fill in the background void. Classical music is my main fix and its presence is a product of my upbringing.
Did I attend my first classical concert when I was eight? Where, what, I can’t remember exactly. I do remember sitting in the auditorium counting up the musicians in the orchestra – far greater in number than my school band. Later, when I took up the flute, I joined concert bands and became one of those on the platform, concentrating hard, cutting out the background noise of the audience and focusing on my lines of music. I learnt a valuable skill: blocking out what I don’t need to hear and concentrate on the task in hand.
When I write, I focus again, and the music stirs my emotions, sad music for sad occasions, happy racy songs for those joyous moments. If there are lyrics they are of a different tongue – Latin, German, Italian – or even abstract vocal sounds to ensure they don’t interfere. Over the years I built up quite a collection of mood music, which fits the requirement for accompanying my writing – Michael Oldfield, Karl Jenkins, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Enya and countless classical composers, especially Renaissance.
What about silence? It has its place, too. Sometimes music is too much of a distraction. But is there such a thing as silence? Of course not if you ears function to the best of their ability. I hear traffic, the children playing in the street, the damn crow squawking on the garage roof, the squirrels fighting over territory and sometimes the howling wind whipping around the corner of the house. All these things shape my mood and along with my melodious friend, I’m never alone.
Do you write with music in the background or are you bathed in ‘silence’? What do you hear as you write?
I’m tempted to have a soundtrack with my book – a list of things to listen to when you read the words. I wonder why this hasn’t caught on? The soundtrack for a book….. As for this post – I’m listening to Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite.
Today’s book, a tale of musical lovers and encroaching deafness.
Vikram Seth – An Equal Music