I don’t play music, but I sure do love it. Shake my paternal family tree and look out, because a lot of very good musicians are going to land on you. I’m extremely proud to say my three children, and now my grandchild, have all inherited the musical gene. Music is and always has been a huge part of my life.
So, no one had to tell me how music could/would affect my moods. When I’m facing long hours of housecleaning, I like to put on fast, upbeat music which energizes me. Never having been a person who enjoys exercise, I make sure my IPod is loaded with great music before I set out for a walk. When one (or all) of my children were being, let’s call it—challenging, and I found myself wondering how much I could sell them for, I’d dial in CBC Classical and watch their (and my) mood quiet.
Now that I write full-time I don’t have the luxury of waiting for my muse to stir awake whenever she feels like it. Each and every day, I arrive at my computer determined to produce. Nice, but some days my darling muse really does just want to stay in bed. So, what’s a girl to do? Music. The quickest and least painful way to end my muse’s snorefest is to plug in Mozart Symphony No. 40 and let it rip.
A lot has been written about the power of music on the brain and creativity. It’s a proven fact that children who study music perform better in school. It turns out Einstein used music for creative inspiration. In particular, pieces paced at 60 beats per minute engage the brain at a lower subconscious level and with a relaxed mind, our creative brain is able to roam.
Classical music works best for me, but you may have to try different types to find what gets your creative juices flowing. Although I don’t listen to it as I’m writing, I often put on songs with strong lyrics—Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Carol King, (Did I just date myself?) when I’m trying to get my brain in a poetic frame of mind. However, as a general rule, I prefer instrumental pieces when I’m actually working. Being a wordsmith, I get too lost in the lyrics if I hear someone else’s brilliant language.
What do you listen to when you write?
Here’s an interesting video about improv and what your brain looks like as you are creating.
“Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation — so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.” TED Talks