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Music to Write Words By


I knew this post about background music was coming up, and I thought about trying to appear learned, discussing studies and suchlike and making a serious point. I was going to do research and links and everything.

But you know it already, don’t you? Background Music = Good. It can transform a load of tedious work into a sing-a-long-a-coding afternoon, it can help you input stats faster, or take you to that ‘zone’ where you concentrate and create. Either you have favourite tunes that you turn to, or you prefer silence but have to play something to drown out the traffic/CBeebies/howling wolves.

Here’s a mix of some songs from my ‘Writing’ folder – they are all wordless, so you won’t start singing along or find that the phrase you thought so original and poetic is actually a Ride lyric (yes, that has happened to me).

I live within earshot of two nurseries and two garages, but that’s not the only reason I have special ‘writing music’. I know that pre-mixed, timed playlists help me focus. The selection I’ve linked to below plays for about 30 minutes, and that’s important. It’s easy to get myself to sit down for half an hour, and while the mix is playing I don’t look up. I don’t need to look at the clock, or my phone, or anywhere other than my notebook or computer screen, because when it’s time to finish I’ll know – the music will end. And I’ll have half an hour of work done.

The music in my writing folder has been played so often now that certain songs sound odd unless I have a pen in my hand. That’s important, too; ritual is good for creativity. My brain knows that The Mercury Program or Tristeza always mean writing, and switches to work-mode faster that way.

Have a listen, let me know what you think, and sort out some playlists of your own. Tweet me your recommendations. They don’t have to be wordless (recently I’ve been playing a lot of Sonic Youth when writing, there’s something motorik about Daydream Nation that trances me out nicely), and if you always get your best work done to Hue + Cry, no one else has to know – just make sure it’s easy to press play when you sit at your desk.
(if you can’t see the player, I think it’s to do with Apple browsers. Have a listen on the site instead while I figure it out).

(8tracks can only play songs in the same order twice, something to do with copyright & licensing. Here’s the tracklisting for the first couple of listens:

1 Stolen Moments – The Six Parts Seven
2 My Only Swerving – El Ten Eleven
3 Dayvan Cowboy – Boards of Canada
4 So Long, Lonesome – Explosions in the Sky
5 Lori – Amiina
6 Open Sea Theme – Sven Libaek
7 Golden Hill – Tristeza
8 Isi – Neu!)

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