Monday, June 15, 2009

Music To Write To

Writing means spending time by myself. It's not lonely, with all my characters around to entertain me. Sometimes I play music while I write to keep the party going.

Not all music works for me. As much as I love Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter, for instance, it's hard for me to hear the words I'm writing when a fine singer is singing someone else's fine words.

Heavy Metal is totally out. First of all, I hate the boring predictability and drippy testosterone of the genre — distracting and clichéd, which is the opposite of how I want my writing to sound. Second, my next door neighbor plays the worst examples of it at full volume. That means I either need ear plugs when I write, or something I can play to drown out the heavy bass.

For some reason, what I like mostly when I write is tango. Oddly, when I spoke to Nawaaz Ahmed about his writing time, he said the same thing. Tango is best for writing.

Maybe the inspiration was a concert of tango music last year at the Moab Music Festival. Paquito D'Rivera and Marco Granados organized a program called Buenos Aires Now, Tango after Piazzola. The program featured Pablo Aslan (bass), Fernando Otero (piano), Raul Jaurena (bandoneón), and Emilio Solla (piano). Most of the musicians had composed works on the program.

emilio solla, raul jaurena, pablo aslan, paquito d'rivera, marco granados

I've heard Granados a few times. Although his Music of Venezuela album is a treat, it's based on the Joropo and other traditional Venezuelan music — not the tango.

Aslan wrote a dissertation on tango music, and his album Buenos Aires Tango Standards reflects his thorough understanding of the form. It is a great blend of traditional tango with modern musical elements.

I listen to Solla's Sentido and Conversas albums a lot when I'm writing. Solla writes in a very modern jazz idiom while his rhythms are tango sexy. If you have trouble finding them on Amazon, you can find them from Solla's European distributor. Here's a video of Solla playing at his Tango Jazz Project two years ago:

Of course, I sneak in some other music. For some reason Prokofiev Violin Sonatas work well. Colored Field by Aaron Jay Kernis works, too. I don't know why.

I find that when I listen to well written music, it inspires me to make my words better. What's best is I like all this music when I'm not writing, too. Hope this helps when you need something to liven up your writing parties.

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