Setting The Tone In The Studio
I’ve long been in the habit of listening to music while working.
This habit was founded and fostered in the printmaking studio of the bealart annex, where open studio time was accompanied by early Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, and for a spell, the smooth crooning of old blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. To this day, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I still revisit the British Invasion – ahh, those formative teen years!
But my musical taste reaches far and beyond the artists and genres I was exposed to in the annex. I have fairly eclectic preferences ranging from pop, hip-hop, alt, classical, and electronica…from Abba to Buckwheat Zydeco and everything in between (a lot of it, I’m sure, wouldn’t pass muster in the printmaking studio of my youth).
When I’m feeling scattered and distracted, music helps me narrow my focus and get down to business. Generally, I like a mix of tempos and moods – but I definitely have my go-to music for certain tasks:
- If I’m feeling sluggish about getting into the studio, or if I have an unpleasant task ahead of me (such as cleaning the studio) I’ll put on the pounding beats of Prodigy or the driving rhythm of Jay Hannan‘s deep house.
- If I have a task that requires clear brain functioning, such as writing an artist statement or blog post, I’ll listen to something instrumental and lyrical, like Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies, or Icelandic band Amiina.
- When I’m working on a repetitive, automatic task that requires little or no thinking power I might switch it up and listen to an audio book (I recommend the Harry Potter series as read by Stephen Fry, and Codename Verity).
- If I’m in need of a severe attitude adjustment my go-to album is the deluxe soundtrack recording for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Nothing brings me joy as much as clever, brilliant satire that is beautifully performed and John C. Reilly et al certainly deliver. A very close second would be any of the cheeky albums by King Missile, though Failure would probably be at the top of the pile.
I’m not a music snob and will listen to anything as long as it makes me feel. On the fringe of my musical spectrum are artists that might be considered cheese-y, or at the very best, ironic: Barry Manilow, The Original Soundtrack Recording of Hair, and William Shatner’s Has Been (yeah, I DID just admit I listen to Barry Manilow AND William Shatner).
Current album selections on my iPhone feature Abba, Antony & the Johnsons, Andrew Bird, Fleetwood Mac, Feist, Harry Nilsson, Prodigy, Amanda Palmer, Belle & Sebastian, and Lou Reed.
Who’s on your current playlist?
Do you listen to music while you work? Please share your favourites in the comments below.