Prompted by discussions and a suggestion over at Mark William Jackson’s blog, here’s my bit for the music that I use when writing.
Like Paul mentions over at Graham’s blog, I too find it difficult to write with music that has lyrics, unless I know them inside out or they are in another language (Lucio Battisti for one). So, it’s a lot of instrumentals for me too! But here they are, a mix of stuff I use often or pieces and albums that are relatively new to me:
First Light – Freddie Hubbard (1971)
Jazz is perfect for writing – it has it’s own mad rhythms and I really find it useful when I want to try something different. This album has rarely left the player I got it a last month. Especially the title track, Freddie is, at times, amazingly understated here, and is supported by a stellar group of sidemen.
Howl’s Moving Castle – Joe Hisaishi (2005)
Studio Ghibli films almost always have beautiful scores, and Howl’s is my favourite of them all. Being a fantasty film too, there’s a range of expressive movements and pieces throughout – but what I love best about it is Hisaishi’s expressiveness. I find myself drawn back to Himitsu no Doukutsu (The Secret Cave) a lot.
Keith Jarrett – The Koln Concert (1975)
This album has astounded me every time I’ve played it. An entire solo piano concert improvised live. Awesome. It sounds like Keith is completely within the music here, you can hear him murmuring to himself as he plays, and just comes up with the sublime phrasing and melodic fragments , going from jazz/blues vamps into more classical moments of creativity. This again, especially the opening 10 minutes of Part 1 is something I find I can put on whenever I feel empty of words, and something happens!
Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) – Ravel (1910, orchestral arrangement) &
Isle of the Dead – Rachmaninoff (1908)
There’s something about The Isle of the Dead that is almost terrifying, as a piece of music it’s command of upheaval and calm is astounding and though I cannot always listen to the whole symphonic poem in one sitting, it never fails to stir me. Pavane… is a one of the more beautiful pieces out there, and I think giving the lead role to a horn was a brilliant piece of arranging, as somber as it is, this is another piece I keep coming back to.