Friday Night Jukebox: Muse

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Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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17 Responses

  1. I don’t generally listen to music when I write. As a musician and songwriter, music is far too distracting. I was at teachers college and during a lesson the tutor put on a well-known piece by Mozart while we worked. The other musician teacher and I just sat there analysing the piece without completing a single bit of work – we had to beg for her to turn it off!

    Having said that, when I am struggling through prose, and it feels like nothing but a chore, I do sometimes put on less-known pieces by Mozart softly in the background. Some adagios that I have a tendency to ignore and the occasional minuet can stimulate without distracting.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      My 24yo son is a classical musician (BA in Music Performance (Euphonium), MA in Trombone Performance,) and, omg, he has said to me the exact same thing: he absolutely cannot have music playing in the background if he’s trying to concentrate on something else. In fact, he never plays any music around his house, unless he must for some professional reason. (He does play music when he’s in the car, but it’s mostly Drum Corps stuff … or Metallica. A story for another time. If ever.)

      So I totally get where you’re coming from.

      That said, this has occasionally put my son and me at serious odds when sharing space, because I listen to music 24/7*. (Okay, maybe more like 18/7ish if I factor in Stewart/Colbert/Maddow/Walking Dead/GoT/Mad Men et al. On a positive note, the exits of The Office and 30 Rock make room for more music.)

      *I have ridiculously diverse tastes: from Bach and Buddy Guy to Mahler and RHCP to Zero 7 and Zeppelin and pretty much anything in between. In a world of awesome movie soundtracks, I think my favorite might be Cold Mountain. What can I say, I’m an odd duck.Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Here are a few pieces I play I’m writing software:

    Brad Mehldau: Elegiac Cycle
    Bill Evans: (Everyone Digs)
    Sakamoto: Discord
    Brian Eno: Nerve Net

    This I save for specially stressful moments:
    Murray Perahia: Goldberg VariationsReport

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    How sad is it that it took me 5 minutes to figure out this post had nothing to do with the band Muse?Report

  4. Avatar Vicki says:

    Haha me too Kazzy! But I do listen to Muse when I’m writing ( and most of the rest of the time). I guess you could say they are my Muse (oh dear…).Report

  5. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I prefer not to listen to anything with lyrics when I’m writing. A lot of bepop, some YoYo Ma, Chopin here and there.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      I largely agree with you, except that a lot of music that perhaps gets my creative juices aflowin’ has lyrics either unintelligible or nonsensical. To me, anyway. I don’t find that stuff distracting. Obviously, I never listen to Joni when I’m either reading or writing. When it comes to Joni, the only other exercise I engage in is lifting my glass of wine. (Fine. And the occasional crying jag.)Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I can’t have music on, or background noise of any kind, when I need to concentrate. This makes the currently fashionable open-plan office my deadly enemy.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      Which perhaps explains why you wear exactly the kind of office attire that I, now, wish to wear. I’m too lazy to link to that thread, but I know you know what I’m talking about.Report

  7. Avatar Glyph says:

    If I really need to concentrate, most music is too distracting; an exception is minimal techno-ish stuff, like Plastikman (who is the platonic form). Basically, stuff that sounds almost architectural, with an inexorable logic to its progression.

    The grids overlay your brainwaves and heartrate and respiration, and synchronize all into a serene machinelike rhythm; you feel calm and energized/alert all at once. I can (sometimes) be really productive with stuff like this.Report

    • When you posted that link to You Made Me Realize with the the 30 minute holocaust section, I wound up working – and being quite productive – listening to it, multiple days in a row. I’ve found that I often do best with really layered – potentially borderline white noise – stuff. Shoegaze works, as does some electronica, a lot of Screamo (Thursday, Taking Back Sunday…) and some post-rock stuff (For The Mathematics is great – they’re a now-defunct Ottawa band. Youtube them.).Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I think I’ve mentioned this, but white noise can sometimes makes me sleepy. I have put on Psychocandy and had it knock me out. Either that, or I want to rock out. But I don’t think I’d want to work (well, at least not mental work – it can be excellent housecleaning/yardwork music.)Report

  8. FYI… after posting this I began to work on a new post (coming soon!), and I threw on Songs: Ohia.

    I didn’t write a fishin’ word.Report