Hi Kate -- what a great thread! The answer depends on what type of
work I'm doing.
When I need to hunker down and get TONS done I almost always end up
putting on Bach's Brandenburg Concerti as well as some fast celtic
instrumentals -- in both cases, the pace of the music and its
mechanically inspired intricacy just keeps me moving along without
even being aware that I've picked up the pace.
When I'm working (fabrication) at a more normal pace, I like
up-tempo music that I can sing along with -- things like Judith Owen,
Indigo Girls, Catie Curtis.
When I'm designing, however, I'm much more meditative. At that
point, I don't like vocals "getting in the way" of my thought
process, and I don't want to be distracted and find myself singing
along instead of sketching and concentrating (yes, it happens). At
that point, I go for the Wyndham Hill Guitar recordings, piano/cello
instrumentals, and similar instrumentals that fit the "mood" of the
pieces I'm working on.
Particularly for high-emotion commissioned pieces, I find that the
music I choose to design them by has a strong attachment to the
finished piece. Sometimes, it's an intense enough attachment that I
can look at that finished piece and hear the "background music" that
accompanies it. As a great example, I did a piece for a client a
while back who wanted a memento she could wear to comemmorate her
father, who had died. I used a favorite piece of her music when
designing the brooch, and I think it helped me capture some of the
"tone" she wanted in the piece.
I'm currently working on a new work for a friend whose husband just
died. This needs to be a reliquary for a lock of his hair, but needs
to also have deep significance for their relationship. He had been
involved as a producer for a jazz musician by the name of Nate Tiffe
-- a really talented guy. I'm using Nate's music from the album Gary
produced as background during the design process for her piece.
Maybe I'm weird in this way, but I do find that the music turns on a
particular part of my brain and gets me into the "zone" for
creating/designing. I can't work effectively without it for very
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