I recently mentioned in a blog that I write with music playing in the background. In fact, as I write these words, the Glenn Miller Orchestra is playing a batch of World War II era songs. I like Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Denver’s own Paul Whiteman and other big band leaders. I’m not certain why, but I think it’s because we didn’t have television in Monte Visa until I was about eight. Before then my mother had the radio on all day and KSLV played a lot of big band and swing music from the 1930s and 40s.
These days I load my old DVD player with a selection of music that matches the mood I want to capture in what I’m writing or simply to maintain a nice mellow mood while I’m at the computer. For example, I have several Ottmar Liebert DVDs. If you’re not familiar with his guitar, I highly recommend it, especially his Nouveau Flamenco and Borrasca albums. Some places classify him as “New Age,” whatever that means. His music washes over you like fresh cool breeze on a hot day. I also like a pair of Mediterranean-themed albums by guitarists Chris Spheeris and Anthony Mazzella that I found somewhere years ago.
Those times I’m feeling like I need high-energy, high-impact music playing, for example when I’m writing fast action or violence, I put in the Rolling Stones or AC/DC, who, by the way, have a new album coming out December 2 (I was not paid for the plug, drat the luck).
Quite often, the music I listen to while I’m writing becomes the unofficial background music to whatever I’m work on (in my head, anyway). Twenty-five years ago I listened to the Sleeping Beauty Ballet performed by the London Symphony Orchestra over and over while I wrote my novel Dark Defender. I can’t explain why, but I did. I know it was at least 25 ago because our sons gave us the DVD player in my office for Christmas 1990 (“Holy crap,” I cried. “This here’s one of them new-fangled DiVD players! Wish I knew what a DiVD was and I had one!”) and my Sleeping Beauty recording was on vinyl.
I can understand writers who don’t want music playing in the background. It can be distracting. Occasionally I catch myself cavorting to some tune. And, never a dancer of note, my cavorting is not pretty thing; it gives ugly a whole new meaning. Music can also get into your head, derailing whatever train-of-thought is rolling through or simply dragging you from where you are to where you don’t need be, usually down some old memory lane a particular melody evokes.
Still, I find music soothing, sheltering and every once in awhile, suggestive of a time or place or mood long forgotten, but appreciatively remembered.