Tag Archives: music

Music – One Of My Passions

From now on I’m going to blog about things that I feel passionate about and one such thing is music.

One of the main reasons I’m a volunteer hospital radio presenter is my love for music. I carry my whole music collection around with me on a massive 160 gigabyte MP3 player. It’s about half full with over 10120 songs – that will probably be 10150 by the time you read this because I already have three more albums in my sights. If we say an average song is about three and a half minutes then, by my calculations, it would take about 25 days of non-stop round-the-clock listening before I heard a repeat. My thirst for new music is insatiable and I like it even more when it’s performed live so I’m also a regular gig goer.

Music is my recreational drug of choice – I’m an addict, a true musicaholic. Music can make me high; make me cry; make me happy; make me sad. It fires my imagination and triggers memories. I have playlists for the gym; gardening; driving my car; riding my Harley Davidson; sending me to sleep; waking me up – I even have an Indian mix especially for when I’m cooking a curry. I find I can write better and for longer with music in the background and wrote my first novel, The Accidental Courier, to a hauntingly atmospheric soundtrack by Ólafur Arnalds.

And the beauty of this mood-altering drug is that there are no unhealthy, or life-threatening, side-effects – so long as I don’t go deaf by playing it too loud (or bother others too much!) then, with luck, I should be OK.

One of my latest finds – my new favourite artist – is Agnes Obel, whom I discovered because one of her songs, Riverside, is the eerie backdrop for a trailer of a new BBC crime drama called Shetland. She’s been around a while and currently has two albums available but she’s new to me. She’s also performing in Bristol next month but unfortunately, by the time I discovered this, the tickets have all gone. I’m not surprised she’s a sell out – listen to this live version of The Curse from her latest album Aventine and maybe you’ll see why.

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Writing & Music

Do you listen to music while writing? Writers seem divided on this question; some can’t write without music, while others can’t write without silence (although where they find that in this noisy world is a mystery!)

Twilight author Stephanie Meyers states she can’t write without music in the background saying, ‘writing Twilight was a very visual, movie-like experience.’ She’s even collect her favourite Twilight songs into a sort of soundtrack for the book. (If you’re curious there’s a link at the end of this blog.)

On my hospital radio show, I once interviewed crime writer Lesley Horton who was then chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. She told the listeners she always writes to music and said she finds silence more of a distraction. Lesley goes as far as selecting the music to match whatever scene she’s writing. For example, rousing brass band music for a fight or murder scene, or softer music for a quiet gentle scene.

Alexander McCall-Smith also writes to a personal playlist, his favourite track being ‘Soave sia il vente’ form Mozart’s opera ‘Cose Fan Tutte’. He believes music has an effect on the brain, calms it down, and helps access the subconscious mind.

I love most kinds of music and play a great variety on my weekly radio show but I can only write to certain instrumental music because I find lyrics distract me. The following albums are great for stimulating my imagination and are currently top of my music-to-write-to playlist:

Olafur Arnalds – …And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness/Endalaus
John Barry – Moviola
Debbie Wiseman – Piano Stories

Links:
Stephanie Meyer: http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_playlist.html
Lesley Horton: http://www.lesleyhorton.co.uk/
Alexander McCall-Smith: http://www.alexandermccallsmith.co.uk/
Olafur Arnalds: http://www.olafurarnalds.com/

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