Music and creativity
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
So spake Duke Orsino of Illyria, in the opening lines of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Poor old Orsino, as if anyone could sicken of love or music. At the risk of getting a little too poetic, music is everywhere – a gentle breeze in the trees, the lapping of waves, the morning chorus; it’s even there when you’re queuing to pay for a bag of spuds in the supermarket.
Music and creativity
I love music almost as much as I love a perfect silence. Since the age of nine, it has been a massively important ingredient in the growth of my inner man/boy/thing.
When writing, I love a background of ambient sounds and mellow beats with the odd full-on bit of bonkers hardcore stuff to shake everything up. I’m not big on lyric-heavy tunes, as other people’s words have a habit of getting in the way of mine, but get the mix right and I find my work-level increases 10-fold.
Is it just me, or is there any proof regarding the correlation between music and creativity?
This article about music and concentration on The Independent’s site says that ‘Listening to music has been shown to cause the release of dopamine…’
Another article on Psychology Today is pretty adamant that music fuels creativity.
If you want to dive really deep into the subject, Dr. Simone M. Ritter and Sam Ferguson recently published a huge scholarly paper on the subject. If you want the quick version (spoiler alert), they say that “…listening to ‘happy music’ (i.e., classical music that elicits positive mood and is high on arousal) is associated with an increase in divergent thinking…”
Whatever the scientists say; besides tea, toast and a vivid imagination, music is one of the most effective weapons in my creative arsenal.
So what was on the menu today?
Amuse Bouche: Stone Flute by Herbie Mann – deeply chilled ’70s mellow jazz – hints of Blaxploitation with waves of freeform, ambient treacly sexiness.
Starter: Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe – subtle flavours of early 20th Century jazz noodlings, expertly blended with a rich tapestry of orchestral gorgeousness.
Main course: Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 – an expertly prepared dish of fresh, organic sounds, dressed with a light four-on-the-floor air.
Pudding: Derelicts by Carbon Based Lifeforms – laid-back melange of Tangerine Dreaminess and Vangelis-type vibes, smothered in reverb and delay.
Cheese board: an eclectic selection comprising The Chemical Brothers’ Block Rockin’ Beats (creamy), FX by Black Sabbath (indulgent), Deadly Deep Subs by Dillinja (pungent) and The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds (smooth).
Coffee and brandy: Ambient 1: Music for Airports by Brian Eno – matured for almost 40 years, this is the ultimate indulgence.
If you feel inclined to share your ideal musical background mix to inspire creativity, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – it’s always good to try out new recipes.
For more on creativity, read this post on copywriting.