What Do You Listen to When You Create?

June 4th, 2009

I put up a question on Twitter (I'm @leah_art on Twitter) yesterday asking, "What do you listen to when you create? Music, Podcast, Silence?" Here are some of the responses I got:

  1. Apple82Apple my favorite CD's
  2. Jim DoranJimDoran Jazz, Pirates of the Caribbean.
  3. Susan Altonladymisssusan Music or (saddly) the tv
  4. Olivia Brownobrown Sometime (usu) silence, occasionally mindless television, rarely music. Great question!
  5. Amy Crawleyacrawley I listen to music-instrumental/classical or a mix of rock/pop/bombastic when in the studio; depends on my mood & mood of the artwk
  6. Amy Crawleyacrawley Tho' sometimes I do like to create in silence.
  7. Nevada Gutierrezkaleidoplex Lately, I've been listening to the electronica music television channel when I'm working on my mixed-media projects
  8. Deborah Koff-Chapin TouchSoul Silence when I draw; Music when I color. News when I clean.
  9. Alexis Pierre-Louisalexispl what I listen to in the studio depends on my mood: sometimes it's music, sometimes it's silence
  10. Emily LongERLong8502 Silence usually, occasionally instrumental music. People talking/singing tend to interrupt my flow & scatter my focus.
  11. Mike CullenOoffAhh Nothing helps the creative process like Philip Glass!
  12. Kira CampoT_C_P i usually check with my inner muse to see what she's up for : )
  13. Bridgette G Millsbgmillsart I listen to NPR programs like This American LIfe or music
  14. HiroBogaHiroBoga Silence when I'm writing. Music when I'm creating book covers or drawing or cooking.

Good stuff! For me it all depends on the mood. But I tend to listen to a variety of music, audiobooks, or podcasts while painting. Sometimes silence. Sometimes mindless t.v. If I'm writing, I can't have on anything with words, so then I might just have silence or turn on something instrumental. Lately, I've been enjoying writing to the New Age Ambient station on Pandora. Today I put it on a Radiohead station to work to. I could go on and on about the things I listen to, but first, I'd love to hear from you:

What do you listen to when you create? Is your art impacted by what you listen to?

18 Responses

Oh, my, is music so important to me!

To finish my novel, I listened to the soundtrack of Frida over and over and over…

I realized that I had “Pavlov-dogged” myself. I would not feel like writing, but as soon as I heard those first, lilting bars of music, I was back in my book and the words would just come.

Toward the end, I didn’t need it anymore. I now can write regardless of what is going on around me, though the “right” music (whether Lila Downs or Azam Ali or Pandora or the birds) CAN get me started.

Like you, if I’m writing I can’t listen to anything with words. The lyrics compete for attention with the words trying to come out of my head. So instrumental jazz is usually my pick, or sometimes silence if I have to settle down and stop tapping my feet.

When I’m shooting or editing images, it can be anything from Barenaked Ladies to Yo-Yo Ma. If I’m shooting instruments I’ll often listen to music that includes what I’m shooting. Sometimes it helps set the tone; sometimes I don’t even realize it’s playing!

I need to use music more often. Typically, the TV is on and my husband watching it in the next room. If I get into “the zone”, I don’t hear it anymore. But I find the TV can break into that zone.
I really like easy listening jazz such as Alcoustic Alchemy or classical – Mozart! Sometimes I put on contemporary Christian or Nora Jones. I’m all over the place!

you are magic :)

i listen to audio books & teleclasses when i’m painting
and instrumental music when i’m writing.

the cd i always ALWAYS go back to is Olivia Newton John’s “Grace & Gratitude.”


Hmmm I love the Genres shuffle in my Ipod…sometimes lately it’s been reggae…but most of the time it’s my country mix….but my country not only consists of the classics but also Hank iii, the Reverand Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids, br549, Brian Setzer, assorted other rock-a-billy people…really funny music. My work is lively and fun so I like to shake my bootie while working on it!
Except in the morning while the human and dog world rests peacefully I can listen to the birds chirp!

sometimes quiet, sometimes grey’s anatomy or desperate housewives, often rock n roll- i had a warren zevon jag going a few months ago & had to create an image of “the davenport of despair” to get it out of my head. i love music, love how it affects my energy & mood and try to remember to take advantage of that….. i read about an artist who painted to live music at shows a few years ago and thought it was a great idea. i would love to be able to paint how great live music makes me feel….the transcendence of the emotion, the interaction between the performer and the audience.. alla that

I listen to the sound of my heart beating, my lungs breathing and my mouth talking. Any other sounds tend to interrupt the conversation I’m having with myself and my paint brush.

Music! I LOVE music. I have a playlist on my blog that several people have told me they listen to when they work. I had only listened to my playlist when I blog. I thought, huuuuummm, maybe I should listen to it when I work as WELL *smiles*.

I used to need the tv on 24/7…just for the noise…but I haven’t needed that for months now. Usually I have my music on 24/7, usually turned down low so I can barely hear it. I have taken to silence so much more lately than I would have ever admitted in the past. It’s never really quiet here though. There are kids outside playing all the time, people walking up and down the streets, dogs barking, airplanes and helicopters flying (we’re near a small airport), the wind blows here almost constantly, birds are crazy here-it’s incredible…these days I listen to the fans blowing since it’s starting to get warmer….
I’ve discovered recently that I have an inner music all my own that comes and presents itself as I work, whether creating art or writing or even just folding clothes. I find myself humming, or singing under my breath. It’s kind of interesting to stop in the middle and see what I am singing…some days I surprise myself.

I have my TV on with a movie/DVD playing…British drama and mysteries…it’s background talking noise and movement on the screen. I’ve tried music – so so, but silence is definately out…

Different music for different types of art; Tori Amos for pastels; listening to tv for art which is tedious; perhaps looking up every once in awhile gives the eyes a break.

I just love these responses.
For so many years, I taught young children in active, noisey classrooms. We had quiet reading and writing times, but for the most part, I had to think and create with the beautiful “white noise” of children’s chatter. Many people don’t understand this, I know. Classrooms are supposed to be quiet all of the time, I’ve been told. I guess I’m just a rebel.
Now that I’m home (retired) I search for the best distractions. It’s too quiet :-) .

Music is essential to my creating process. As for what i listen to, it depends on what i’m creating. If i’m off to bang on things with hammers, drill a bunch of holes. and other such metalworking things, some good industrial punk does it for me. If i’m working more with fabric or beading, i enjoy more of a indie type music like Deathcab for Cutie, Neutral Milk Hotel, or La Petit. It really depends on my mood. Sometimes i prefer more of a Ska approach, with my Streetlight Manifesto, or more of a instrumental jazz approach with some Coltraine.

I love listening to indie, folk music when I’m creating. I don’t know why, but it inspires me. it my makes my creativity flow better, it fits in the creativity process, almost like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle- if that makes sense!:-) my favourites at the moment are Sia Furler, Tina Dico, Meiko, Ingrid Michaelson to name a few. Oh… and Jack Johnson, Kings of Convenience…I could keep going!

music…moody, smooth, relaxing, laid back, music of all kinds or silence or the birds :)

Thank you for the Pandora link – my new favorite – they get me and my creating music tastes !

listen to music, and the choices depend on my mood and whether i’m painting, drawing or working on stained glass: from Enya to Janice Joplin, from contemporary angry young women to 70’s songwriters both women and men. new music also is a conscious choice like The Mantras.

i mostly listen to NPR as the music and programing is the best I’ve found. recently i was in a auto crash, rear ended and totaled, and during the next weeks, i soaked in a tub with Epsom salts and listened to brother iz CD “facing forward” you know the one with” over the rainbow ” his version ,on it. i think that music helps to us heal as i floated all the hot water out of there , and the toxins. it really depends on mood, ya? some afternoons i must local The Eagles and Jackson Browne for creativity and redemption!

I don’t listen to much when I create, other than the forest when I am walking and musing. This is because most of my creative action involves writing or composing. So I listen to what appears to be no sound and receive words and music. Then I sing it, play it or write it.

I listen to music when I drive and when I have to get my butt in gear to clean up the place ;-) – also to dance.

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