Since becoming a full-time artist, I spend a lot of time working alone. When I worked in an office building, I sometimes hummed while working, or played the radio. I tried to keep the humming confined to my personal office. Now that I am working on my own, I often listen to music or audiobooks, enriching the day, making me feel happier, and engaged, or something. I tend to use particular types of music at varying stages of a painting. At the start, instrumental music of the classical nature, or contemporary stringed instruments. No lyrics to distract, just instrumentals to inspire. After I am well into a piece and feeling the direction is solid, I move to pop or rock, something with a good beat. When feeling free and focused while cooking or cleaning, I sometimes turn the rock up loud. Music has always played a major role in my life, having begun playing piano and violin in grade school.
Curious if others used music as a tool to achieve certain moods or effects, I polled some friends. A professional therapist said she did not listen at work though she used classical, instrumental music to unwind and the hearing of her favorites station invoked a visceral relaxation effect.
An attorney friend said she didn’t listen at work because it was difficult to focus and her mind would shift away from the task at hand. For cooking she enjoyed classic rock & roll; for resolving angst, Bonnie Raitt or other blues artists and for background music for parties, it was folk rock or classical. She pointed out that music lifts spirits and is a great way to connect with other people.
Another attorney listens to specific classical composers, technically baroque music. “It perks me up and makes me feel happier,” she said. She uses classic rock like The Beatles, to inspire housework. Particular music was so tied to an activity that actual pieces affect her mood and thoughts. For example, some classical guitar that she listened to when reading a favorite author could bring her thoughts immediately to plot points in her books. Some Bach pieces for cello reminds her of the soundtrack from Schindler’s List and produces a “downer” feeling because of the atrocities of WWII and Auschwitz.
A business consultant friend listens to jazz, mostly contemporary jazz, and if she needs to concentrate deeply, complete quiet. For relaxing, she chooses the smooth jazz of Boney James, Walter Beasley, Marion Meadows, and Chris Botti, to name a few. She noted that her 22-year-old son listened to jazz through headphones while studying. Ah, youth!
What are you listening to for effect?