Over my 24 years of life I have learned one unchanging fact about myself:
I am afraid of silence.
There are several contributors that have created this fear in my life.
- I’m artistically inclined. The second way my artistic side manifested itself in my life was through music. I began playing piano around age eight. I quit within a year because I had stubby fingers and a teacher with far too many cats for one townhome. I continued to play clarinet and bass clarinet in high school and college. Music has always been enjoyable for me.
- Our culture is a generally loud one. We are encouraged to have music with us wherever we go whether we’re driving, walking, or in our homes. There must be a soundtrack to our lives other than the sound of our own breathing.
- My family is loud. If we aren’t trying to be heard over our barking dogs or barking siblings then we are yelling from the second floor to someone in the kitchen. If we’re loud then we’re happy. Silence is reserved for sadness.
- Silence is uncomfortable. It reminds me I’m alone at times. It’s a space that I feel compelled to fill. Sustained silence fills me with the fear that my ears have lost the ability to hear.
My remedy to this fear is music.
I listen to music constantly. I don’t just appreciate it, I love it.
So today I want to share some music that I like to play while I’m reading and/or writing. I find that listening to music while I read or write settles me. It prevents me from getting too antsy and getting distracted. The music hones me in and gives me a beat to lean back on. It’s the tempo for the clack of my keyboard.
I have two categories: Wordless Music and Music with Words take your pick, but I encourage you to check out both.
Reading and Writing Music: Lauren’s Favorites
Music with Words: (No particular order)
1. Sleeping at Last
Album: Yearbook Collection
Top Songs: Emphasis, Page 28, Pacific, Tethered
Mellow, poetic, and utterly beautiful. I love Sleeping at Last for their lyrics. Their songs are lyrical poetry. I draw a lot of inspiration from their music. If you’re looking for music to wring out that deep emotion out of you then Sleeping at Last is your band. Don’t know how to explain a color? Reading something introspective? Listen to Sleeping at Last. I also like to listen to them when I go for a gentle walk.
Album: Bad Blood and All This Bad Blood
Top Songs: Things We Lost in the Fire, Pompeii, Flaws, Bad Blood
There’s an understated cool that Bastille possesses. Their music is poignant without beating you down. There aren’t too many levels of sound. The percussion of the songs drive the tune and yet hang back. I don’t know if I’m even making sense, but I love their lyrics. The songs tell a story. Their lyrics are heavy about what it is to feel human and make mistakes. And who doesn’t love Pompeii? But if you’re sick of hearing that song on the radio then I encourage you to listen to the songs I listed.
3. Ellie Goulding
Album: Halcyon Days
Top Songs: Figure 8, Only You, Goodness Gracious, How Long Will I Love You
This might seem like a weird choice, but Ellie Goulding is just fun. When I want something upbeat going in the background then I just click her name on Spotify and listen through her albums on repeat. Her songs range from dark house music to upbeat rhythms that make you want to put together a picture montage of the happiest moments of your life. Her lyrics also repeat and aren’t the center of attention of her songs so that I can play her music while writing without being distracted.
Honorable Mentions: Iron and Wine, Future of Forestry, Christina Perri, Paramore
1. Penguin Café Orchestra
Album: Concert Program
Top Songs: Vega, Perpetuum Mobile, Surface Tension
Are you a fan of the band Fun? For some reason this group reminds me of Fun if they were played by an orchestra. There is a playfulness about their music that is a lot like the orchestral version of Peter and the Wolf (Am I the only kid that watched that tape over and over?). The music can start of happy then turn sad and then end completely playful. I like to write to this music because there are sometimes these happy coincidences where the music lines up exactly with the changing mood or of the piece story I’m telling. It’s great. Other times, their songs are just great musical pieces if you love classical.
Album: Balmorhea and Stranger
Top Songs: Days, Artifact, Baleen Morning, Settler
If you’re a fan of Muse, Manchester Orchestra, or The Killers I think you’d like Balmorhea. Their music is like a rock song without lyrics. Most of it is fast paced and make me think of a moving train. This is the kind of music that would be in the background of an indie short film. I like the movement of the music. They always start off with a simple riff then add more instruments and melodies as they go. The song becomes complex then they bring it back down to nearly what they started with, but slightly different.
3. Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack (2005)
Top Songs: Darcy’s Letter, Mrs. Darcy, Georgiana
This whole soundtrack is really my favorite. If you haven’t watched the movie, then you really should. The music really drives most of the scenes. It’s mostly piano and captures the bright, flighty air of the Bennet household. Then, there are dark brooding songs that instantly attach themselves to thoughts of Mr. Darcy. If you’ve seen the movie then, as you listen to the album, you will probably be able to recall the exact scene or character each song belongs to. These songs are great background as they’re soft and unobtrusive. This is really my favorite thing to read to because it’s just so peaceful. It would be wonderful to read Pride and Prejudice while listening to Pride and Prejudice and somehow I have lived this long without doing so!
Honorable Mentions: The Piano Guys, Jane Eyre Soundtrack (2011), Atonement Soundtrack
I don’t know if you all use Spotify, but I’m seriously considering paying for premium because there is nothing more annoying than the sound of the Progressive lady’s voice in the after a piano concerto. Also, while I was writing this and listening to Georgiana a commercial came on right after for Sage The Gemini’s ‘Gas Pedal’. Needless to say, it destroyed the mood.
I mean really, Gas Pedal right after gentle Georgiana…uncouth.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful and you discover some music you enjoy to read and write by!