I can’t abide silence whether I’m reading or writing. I’ll take music every time, if it offers a pleasant buzz as I write. I seldom listen to ballads or lyrical works: a singer’s words distract me from the words I’m trying to write. The challenge of conjuring up a story with the right words is best met with pure instrumentals floating in the background like a pacifier. I do listen to occasional opera; an aria by Renee Fleming or Kiri Te Kanawa in a language I don’t understand can be a positive distraction.
I go through phases and different styles of music. Recently I’ve been dipping into New Age, but I’m rather picky: I adore Ann Sweeten’s romantic piano pieces that stand out from the musical herd of New Agers. Her distinctive style is recognizable on the first few notes, emotive and dreamy but never soppy. Her siren chords are pleasant and soothing, a muse to write by. Recently departed Tom Barabas was rather similar—a romantic and distinct pianist.
Of course, I have my daily go-to music, mostly NPR’s classical music covering a whole gamut of musical styles and periods—its list is long in “long-hair music,” as my dad called it.
I’m currently in a more upbeat mode and going back to the nineties of Willie & Lobo and their lively blend of flamenco guitar, gypsy riffs, and Willie’s brooding and racing fiddle. How a violin and guitar put out the sound of a rich ensemble is stunning. Since I write adventure stories, they give me a lift even as I hold to my desk and write. They even make me feel young again … almost.