Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Music is the food of work

Apologies to Will Shakespeare, but for me, music is the food of work (and life), but not love as such. I don't watch scheduled broadcast TV - for one thing, it's hard to do that whilst writing notes or sitting at the computer and concentrate properly on both, for another, I find the TV isn't conducive to thinking. Don't get me wrong, this isn't intellectual snobbery - I just can't think straight with a television switched on in the background - it seems to draw my attention far more than either the radio or a CD. So I listen to Classic FM - from when I get up at 5 am to the time I arrive at the office or the library (neither allow the accompaniment of the radio, alas), then again from the time I leave until about 8 pm in the evening. The fact that I prefer Classic FM to BBC Radio 3 will probably earn me some scowls or scorn - it's rather more populist or low-brow than R3. I happen to like it - it takes classical music seriously, without being too serious itself. Yes, it does often play the same piece over and over again - I got sick of the sound of Kennedy's first recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons when it stayed in the Classic FM chart for months on end (but then I'm not as fond of violin music as I am of, say, piano or woodwind music). But they do play full length works during Nick Bailey's Evening Concerts (9 pm - midnight), and it's introduced me to dozens of composers and/or pieces to which I would never have otherwise listened - Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, for example.

After 8 pm I tend to listen to CDs - Beethoven is one of my all time favourite composers - although Mozart's definitely grown on me over the last year or so (I'm very fond of his piano concertos, his woodwind works and his harp concertos), and I love listening to movie soundtracks: Master and Commander is on even as I type this... I've also got to confess to adoring Howard Shore's music for the 3 Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films ! I actually got to hear the Lord of the Rings Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall last September - conducted by Howard and featuring the original recording artists. This was also my first experience of a live orchestra - and it nearly blew my mind ! I'm also very fond of Hans Zimmer's music for Gladiator and John Williams' music for lots of films (including the 3 Harry Potter films).

I confess, though, that quite often, the radio or a CD is on and I don't consciously listen to it - it acts as aural wallpaper whilst I read or write or type... I realise this will also lose me brownie points, but that's the way I work and listen, and I don't intend to apologise for it, because it's the way I work ! I do just sit and listen, however, if I go to a live concert - it would be discourteous to do otherwise, but it's definitely the case that music forms the background to much of my life, and I don't think it's doing me any harm not to consciously listen to it !

6 comments:

Jill said...

Hi Michelle,

I've been waiting until I had something intelligent to say to comment on your blog, but this will have to do. Just this morning I was looking for the URL for Classic FM, now that I am newly in possession of a high-speed Internet connection that'll support such things. Real radio reception in my place is awful, and my local station's streaming doesn't work on Macs - but of course, a Google search on "classic FM" brings up a haystack of hits. So thanks for coincidentally pointing me toward exactly what I was looking for!

(Of course, now I need to figure out Windows Media Player for the Mac...)

Michele said...

Oh Jill I do like to post something timely ! :-D Don't ask me how to figure out using the Windows Real Player on a Mac - I've never used a Mac in my life, alas, so I cannot assist you there...

Camille said...

I love the soundtrack to the third Harry Potter film. I think John Williams looked at Howard Shore and thought, "hmmm, I've got to step it up on this film." There are moments when I hear LOTR echos in that music. I do think it is one of his most original soundtracks in a long time.

I did not see the movie about Howard Huges with Leo but I know Shore did the music for it, I would like to give that listen sometime.

Michele said...

Camille, I still haven't heard the HP3 film soundtrack properly - obviously I heard it on the film, when I saw it, but I've not yet listened to it in its entirety as I haven't yet purchased it - perhaps I'll spend my recently received Amazon Associates fee on it ! Did you know John Williams isn't doing the soundtrack to film 4 (not that he did half of the soundtrack to HP2 either) ?

I don't think I've heard the soundtrack for The Aviator - Classic FM plays movie soundtracks for two hours on a Saturday evening during Simon Bates' "Classic FM at the Movies" show - but I could have missed it...

Mrs. Coulter said...

The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is just wonderful (it actually makes me cry). For working, though, I generally need something up-tempo. Romanticism is usually good, and I have found Shostakovich's symphonies to be quite conducive to flying fingers.

In terms of movie soundtracks, I'm partial to the Henry V and Three Colors: White soundtracks.

Michele said...

I don't really mind what music is on whilst I work - whatever Classic FM is playing is fine as a general rule ! Although it's true that Mozart aids the concentration (at least it aids mine)...