Thursday, November 15, 2012

Music to Create To

So I've been doing a lot of writing lately, and I don't know about you, but I needs me some music to go along with any creative efforts, so I figured I'd share some of the music that gets my creative juices flowing. In general, I need music that is... open. The "busier" the music, the less room I have for my own thoughts. 

That means a lot of classical music, and a lot of ambient music, so if these things are not your cup of tea, abandon hope, ye who enter here.


 Adagios in general are nice to create to. Nice and slow, easy does it. This recording in particular is a favorite of mine, Karajan was an incredible conductor, and brought out the feeling in many recordings.  Apropos of nothing, if he hadn't been dead, I totally would have lobbied for him to play Gandalf, btw.


 Speaking of adagios, if you haven't heard this one, under what rock have you been living? Barber's Adagio is hands down one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever set to paper, and nobody captured the essence like Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. You may know the song, but if you haven't heard this recording, you haven't heard it like it should be done.


 From what I understand, Thomas Tallis is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, thanks to, of all things, Fifty Shades of Gray.


Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, I suppose. Tallis was doing the wall of sound thing 500 years ago, and the music reminds me of the ocean, shifting and sliding, while still being one, cohesive "thing".


 Everyone knows the fourth movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony - the opening sounds like Jaws, then goes all brassy and badass. The second movement, though, is mellow, and just a bit threatening, if you know what's coming. You can feel the momentum building as you go along, while still getting a sense of stillness and peace.

 Now we go to some darker places:

For some reason, Spotify lists the song above as Powler, it's actually called Prowler.  It's by one of the greatest bands to ever have a ridiculously stupid name, Bohren and Der Club of Gore.  They started out as a fairly generic death metal band, and then got interesting, introducing the world to the concept of Doom Jazz.  It's music for the streets of a dark city, where the bar just closed and boozy patrons are slinking into the shadows, as a lone sax player stands beneath the streetlight, his music mournfully accompanying them to the grasping darkness that awaits them...

Nazi UFO Commander - the name may be silly, but the music isn't.

Philip Glass, oh Philip Glass.  Candyman was terrifying enough as it was, why did you have to go and make it worse?  It's not often that the music of a film encapsulates the entirety of the film as neatly as this does - haunting and beautify, simple and repetitive, it stays with you long after the film itself.  As long as I'm on the topic, though, next time you watch Candyman,  watch it with the idea that Helen has gone ridiculously insane and is an unreliable narrator - It was always you, Helen, takes on a very different meaning.  Anyways, Philip Glass - the Candyman soundtrack is a good point of entry for anyone interested in the idea of voice as a musical instrument.

Lustmord - Dog Star Descends by umyde

Brian Williams, aka Lustmord is the king of Dark Ambient.  Pretty much any of his works do the trick, but The Place Where the Black Stars Hang one is a particular favorite of mine.  If you get a chance to see him perform, you owe it to yourself to do so.  His performances are wonderful and amazing and terrifying and beyond real description, just like the music itself.  The album is over an hour long, and the video above has it all one small part of it.  Put on some good earphones, turn down the lights, and start writing.

Peter Andersson is a prolific dark ambient musician, with numerous projects.  I could make an entire post just about his various projects - each approaches the idea of dark ambiance from different perspectives.  Raison d'etre is his most well known, and approaches from an industrial angle, while Necrophorus focuses more on naturalistic ambiance   Panzar is.... terrifying.  The album this track is from, Human Degeneration, is, so far as I can tell, some sort of concept album about the Holocaust, or WWII in general (lots of talking in German, which I don't understand - for all I know it could be a recipe for cookies), and it is every bit as haunting, ominous and threatening as you would imagine such an album would be.  To feel the full effect, you should listen to the entire album which can be heard here.  This track, though, captures most of it.

Enough of the dark stuff, here are some lighter works.

Steve Reich is a pioneering minimalist, and this shows the power of his work.  In this work, he takes a simple phrase, and turns it into an audio feast that will blast anything that is stuck in your head into oblivion.  A good audio enema.

I recently had an opportunity to see Robert Rich perform live.  He did a house tour of the world, putting on concerts literally in peoples' homes.  I was one of about 25 people at the concert, my better half and I lounging on a couch.  At some point my eyes closed, I was drifting, aware, but at peace.  The music ended and my eyes opened and I was refreshed.  It's that kind of music.

Well, I think that's enough for now.  Enjoy!


  1. Wow, man, you and I are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. For me, I need loud and fast (though not necessarily angry) stuff to distract my brain so I can trick the secrets out of it.

  2. I think my problem with that kind of music is that I want to sing along, hum, tap my pen on the table, and generally do everything except write :)

  3. Nice stuff- a couple of things here I hadn't heard of. Off to track some of those down.


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