influences, Life Talk


Thank you to those who commented on the last post! I was asking the question because I was stuck on figuring out a particular magical adventure in my MG fantasy, and I wanted to see what, if any, were some common threads that wove throughout most people’s childhood dreams. There was one, too! It was … flying, whether on winged horses, flying carpets, or just on one’s own. Pretty neat, to see how much so many very different people have in common from childhood.

And now on to today’s topic, which is, as the title suggests, music.

My sister and I were very fortunate, growing up. We had parents who refused to listen to, or allow us to listen to, bad music. So my childhood music memories include listening to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf; making up dances to Bach; humming John Denver along with Dad; and taking naps accompanied by songs about phonics (“Apple, apple, a,a,a”) and Spanish-to-English translations of simple phrases, also set to music.

Awesome stuff.

Thanks to such a diverse and rich background musically (I don’t really remember listening to much kid’s music at all, except for Raffi, naturally, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the aforementioned tape with the learning songs on it – which I now have in CD form for my littles), I find that I still appreciate a wide variety of music. Different sorts for different moods or needs! I like:

Beethoven or Hayden for cleaning

Mozart-Handel-Brahms-etc. for relaxing

Bach for inspiration

And for just general listening, or if I need a specific kind of music for a specific kind of story: Owl City; Regina Spektor; Marina and the Diamonds (some); Lenka; Ingrid Michaelson; Kate Nash or Lily Allen (some); and, of course, Michael Buble.

And then there’s the Celtic music I like, whether instrumental or with vocals. And thanks to growing up with a string-pickin’ father, I’m a sucker for American folk music.

I’m trying to imitate that same sort of diverse background for my littles; we do have a bunch of children’s music, but it is all either Raffi (EVERY kid needs to grow up listening to Baby Beluga, which my Joy freely adapts into “Heaven above and the sea below, and a little white hi-ip-po – whee, whee, whee!”), or more folk music, adapted for kids. We are big fans of Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb! More often, they listen to whatever Carl and I are listening to – which can be anything from instrumental hymns to Brahms to Michael Buble!

Do you have music that you listen to for specific tasks? When you write, do you have music playing in the background, or do you need silence, or does it depend on the story (it does for me – some stories I need to write in silence, while some require music to put me in the proper mindset)? What sort of music did you listen to as a kid, and do you still find yourself drawn to that sort of music now?

Disclaimer: I am not associated or affiliated with any of the artists mentioned in this post; the opinions therein are my own.

11 thoughts on “Music”

  1. I like a nice 80's pop thing when I'm cleaning house. I like to start out with A Ha's "Take On Me."When I need to relax, I turn to my theatrical scores. In that, I listen to everything from 1994's Little Women, Band of Brothers, 2010's True Grit, and A River Runs Through It, Last of the Mohicans – you name it. I love many scores by Rachel Portman, Thomas Newman, and Patrick Doyle, among others. This is also good to listen to while writing, unless I want to listen to period music.When I'm in the car, I usually leave the iPod on Shuffle. My tastes are so eclectic there that I can listen to the Beatles, Norah Jones, Garth Brooks, Louie Armstrong, and Guns & Roses in one trip to work and back.Sometimes I'm in the mood for certain things like marching band music for football games, Praise and Worship, Bluegrass, and such. If someone looked at my iPod, they would find a lot of different variations.

  2. The biggest music-liking theme that has threaded through my entire life, from infancy to the present, is I have always (ALWAYS, since I was a colicky newborn and apparently found it soothing!) loved the piano. Piano is a plus in any piece of music of any style or genre! As can probably be surmised by my username, I'm a rock fanatic, and have been ever since I fell in love with Paul McCartney when I was fifteen (note: he was 50-something at the time; I am NOT from the original Beatlemania generation). When I was in college I had a classic rock radio show on the college station, so amassed a huge collection for that, and so today my own personal collection is a little more specific than it should be. I love other kinds of music, too (I like to say my favorite music is "good music"), I just don't OWN much else!A few months ago I got off on this kick where I realized my children did not know Gershwin and I HAD TO FIX THIS, so I raided the library for Gershwin and actually found a collection that was Gershwin, Bernstein, and Copland all in one. It was PERFECT!I also love Mozart. I love the mathematical COMPLEXITY of it, how everything fits together and moves in and out of itself. Before I got into my classic rock thing as a youth, though, my big thing was showtunes (because I had this grand plan to become a Broadway star). I've mostly fallen away from Rogers and Hammerstein (except "The Sound of Music") and Andrew Lloyd Webber (except sometimes "Jesus Christ Superstar"), but I still adore Les Miserables (my favorite as a tween), Into the Woods, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls something crazy.My children identify Beatles music as "Submarine Songs." Also, my 2 year old can correctly identify Paul McCartney in a picture.

  3. Adrienne – I used to love soundtracks, until I found that I was mentally replaying the scenes from the movies (or *cough* the skating routine someone did to that music) when I heard it, and while that was fine for some things, it definitely hindered the creativity process for writing. Period music for writing is fun, too.Rockinlibrarian – I bought myself Copland's Appalachian Spring recently – more music that I'd grown up hearing, but had kind of forgotten about as an adult. And Gershwin! Gershwin is amazing. I have to confess that Mozart is probably my least favorite out of the classical composers, but that could be because mathematical complexity doesn't thrill me, but rather gives me a headache.And ah, Les Miz (which one of my friends always called Less Marbles). I sing Castle on a Cloud sometimes still to my girls for a lullaby. And Carl and I use "Into the woods, into the woods, into the woods," whenever somebody is being annoyingly repetitive around here (or whenever we're talking about visiting Grandma's house). Broadway is just FUN.

  4. I often start off with music to help me get in the writing mood, but when it's on, it's too distracting actually! So I end up tuning it out or turning it off when I'm really in the groove.

  5. I always hear people claim to listen to music while they write, but I've never been able to. It's why I can't write in coffee shops. We listen to mostly kid music in my house. Robbie Schaffer and the Recess Monkeys are two bands my girls love.

  6. Once again our similarities are so close as to be spooky! My parents also raised us with the best of every kind of music….so my background is just like yours, down to that phonics tape, which I recognize, and including several geography, math, and science units set to folk music or simple tunes. Oh, and Steve Green makes catchy little songs for kids that are just Scripture set to music- check them out. Ditto Michael Card though his music is more eighties/rock.Also look for Sandra Boynton's songs; Sharon, Lois, and Bram; Wee Sing books and discs are good; and you could try them with Redwall on tape when they're a bit older. All those are fun for anyone to listen to! We all still sing them.

  7. Lydia – I find that most music with vocals tends to be a distraction when writing, too. It's why I can't listen to music while I fall asleep – I find that I am paying more attention to listening to the words and figuring everything out than I am to sleeping (or writing, as the case may be). Exceptions are songs that I know so well the words are graven into my mind, and I don't even really hear them anymore.Kirsten – I get distracted by people-watching when I try to write in coffee shops – music just serves as a background :-) I haven't heard of the two bands you mentioned; I'll have to check them out.Beautifulmonday – Our parents probably purchased the tape at the same Discovery party, even! I was so excited when I found a Discovery booth at a fair when Carl and I were first married; we weren't even thinking about kids then, but as soon as I saw the CD I knew I HAD to get it for future years. I tried some Sandra Boynton with the girls a little while ago, but Joy threw a fit and insisted she hated it, despite loving all the Boynton books. So I haven't gone there since. Redwall on tape! I know Jacques said all of his songs have tunes in his head (or had – I keep forgetting he's gone) – do they have tunes on the tapes, too, or are they just recited in a sing-song voice?

  8. Those would be worth getting if for no other reason than just to hear him telling the story!And they would certainly make long car rides more interesting :-) Although inevitably we'd all be starving by the time we reached our destination, given all the descriptions of feasts he sprinkles so lavishly throughout.

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