Studio Ambiance

What do you you listen to while you're working in the studio?
Music? What kind?
News? What station?

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49 thoughts on “Studio Ambiance”

  1. Audio books if I’m making art, music if I’m writing. If I need to buckle down and get something done to a deadline I put my headphones on – helps me concentrate better – and the rest of the time I have music going on the computer.

  2. I usually listen to either music or Howard Stern. Music wise I stick with rock/atl rock like NIN, Mars Volta, Pearl Jam, IAMX, Silversun Pickups, etc. Movie scores are great as well (I highly recommend the Inception score).
    IMO – music is the lubricant for creativity.

  3. Sometimes I work without music, but mostly I listen to something when I’m in the studio, especially if I’m doing something tedious like filing or sanding.
    Lately I’ve been listening to Them Crooked Vultures, Pyrates Royale, Kristin Hersh, or The Doors

  4. I listen to everything from silence to TV. Listening to documentaries on TV are one of my faves, but I also listen to an eclectic mix of music on my ipod. It all depends on my mood and level of concentration.

    1. Louise in SW Saskatchewan

      It depends on what I’m doing as to what I listen to. Mostly I have my iPod on shuffle so I never know what will be coming up – the variations of what’s playing keep me on task and not listening to the music. I have all my cds in my iPod library – everything from children’s songs, celtic punk, classical, christmas and even my friend’s memorial service testimonials. If I’m creating or thinking I do prefer Baroque – no words. For cleaning – Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf helps get me moving. When doing a lot of repetive tasks, ironing or just working along I often watch tv shows or movies online. Movies I’ve watched before are especially good if I am hand stitching something that needs closer attention.
      I’ve discovered that listening to CBC Radio One (like NPR) talking is good to help me focus when doing bookkeeping etc. (I kid you not).
      What I have learned is that I need to put the iPod on to settle me down to work – it’s become part of my routine in the studio.

  5. I listen to classical music only. And I want to say that your blog is really informative! Ranks up there with Art Fag City, Myartspace Blog, and Winkleman’s blog! Keep up the good work.

  6. Debora Stewart

    Lately its been going back in time and listening to Cat Stevens – so much wisdom in his music. I’m on the road to find out. But I usually listen to AfroCelt Sound System really loud and I tend to move a lot when I work (dance).

  7. Every morning I put seed in a bird feeder just outside my window and refill the water my nearby birdbath. As a little boy I used to watch my father religiously perform the same morning ritual. It’s very popular with the local feathered population and a small army of chipmunks and squirrels. They keep up a steady murmur of sounds- flapping, chirping, scratching, splashing, and yelling at each other. It’s quietly soothing and stimulating at once. When I’m tired of music the animals produce a sound track perfect to entice the Muse to come visit my studio.

  8. Silence.
    Music is never background for me. I always focus on it if it’s on. I was a professional musician in my (long ago) youth, and I have a theory that it’s a holdover from always concentrating to learn whatever I was hearing in those years.

  9. I’m a freak. I *watch* things. I know that seems contrary to working on visual art. But it’s the latest phase, been about a year now. Have been through talk radio, audio book and music phases. Right now if I listen to something I flit around, procrastinate, fiddle with stuff. The minute I put on video, I’m at the palette and the canvas is getting painted. So I’m not questioning it.
    I’m watching cheesy sci-fi mainly – Sanctuary, FlashForward, BSG. Other favourites are The Good Life or Big Bang Theory.

  10. If you need to tap into some passion, try The Avett Brothers! Those guys bring it every single time they play. The type of music may not be for everyone, but the emotion and artistry will get you fired up to create!

  11. Talk radio, usually NPR, all kinds of audio books, music, usually blues. I find if my mind is distracted by the voices the work flows more freely. Phillip, you win best answer for this one! I’m there!

  12. This time of year I love to listen to the cicadas. And birds. But I often choose music to fit my mood or what I think my mood should be. And sometimes after I’ve figured things out and don’t have to think as much, I’ll put on an audio book. It helps me overcome some inertia about getting started again.

  13. I love Pandora internet radio. You can customize it by keying in your favorite musicians and they create a personalized radio station for you. I have one based on Peter Gabriel that is fantastic. Also love to listen to The Message.

  14. Ditto Miranda in that it varies depending on how my concentration level. If I’m really struggling with something, silence is golden. If I’m freewheeling, I can have the TV on. In between, my i-pod or a baseball game works loverly.

  15. Alyson Stanfield

    I am surprised at how many of you listen to audio and make art. That’s fascinating. But it obviously works! I suppose I could listen to NPR. And right now, of course!, the Tour de France is background noise.
    I always look forward to the day the Tour is over. That means quiet. My office windows are often open in the morning and I hear the birds and wind chimes.
    When I’m writing, I have to have some kind of music that doesn’t have a definite rhythm that I know. I prefer some Middle Eastern music and nature sounds. Love my “sounds of the ocean” recordings.

  16. If it’s music on, which it is most of the time, It’s almost always Celtic, mostly Scots-Trad. The cheery upbeat tunes keep me going for hours. The rest of the time it’s audiobooks – sometimes just a great story but mostly inspirational self-help ones like those by Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar.

  17. I often listen to a Pandora station I created that pulls music that has the qualities of Mozart. The radio leads me to NPR, which is KJZZ here in Phoenix. IPod mixes might include anything from Sheryl Crow to Alice in Chains. TV is almost invariably HGTV; but anything on TCM usually works too.

  18. Usually I’ll have a favorite movie or eposide of Law & Order: Criminal Intent playing in the background. It’s the combination of voices and moody music that stimulates my brain and a hyper focus.

  19. Sometimes I watch TV; preferably the news where I don’t have to look up but listening suffices. Ideally I have music on; yesterday was so perfect because I was playing some jazz music on Pandora (my Esperanza Spalding station) and it was a beautiful sunny day and I had the window open. I actually wrote about it on my blog:

  20. I love podcasts and used to listen to them while I painted – PRI Short Stories, This American Life, the Moth. But I discovered that for me – and yes, this is weird – the stories became part of my painting. Every day when I’d go back to a certain painting, I’d remember the story I listened to while I painted it. Snippets would pop into my head and I’d think about it. Even after I’d finish the painting, it would remind me of a story. It might be fine for some stories, but too many were things like an intense tale of a woman’s experience with a rabid raccoon. Things I didn’t want embedded in my thought process with a painting. So I save the podcasts for long drives and listen to music.
    My music shuffle includes albums by Josh Ritter, Lisa Hannigan, Cloud Cult, Amy McDonald, Necko Case, Gypsy Kings and all the free songs that pop up on iTunes each week. I’ve never been so up on what’s current in the music world! The Indy music world of course – I live in the Northwest and have a 17 year old guitarist at home who finds new music for me.
    And first thing in the morning, and at 4 in the afternoon I switch to NPR to keep up with the news.

  21. Hooray I’m not the only video freak. 🙂 Just to clarify though – I don’t watch new shows because they’d be too exciting! only things I’ve already seen. So I suppose once it’s on I’m mainly listening. A bit like a radio play or audio book in that sense.

  22. I’ve been painting for almost 50 years now and I can not recall anytime (perhaps with very few exceptions) that music or an audio book (digital now used to be LPs) was playing. I’m particularly fond of setting the music genre to my mood:
    Ebullient – opera and some classical composers, Celtic, Italian, patriotic
    Contemplative or Depressed – more somber classical composer, new age, Japanese
    Nostalgic – Judy Collins, Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.
    In-between – show tunes and movie soundtracks
    Never – hard rock, video or TV (too distracting)

  23. Linda F. Hawkins

    When working in the studio either Jazz/New Age music is playing or the HGTV is on the tube. Then again, sometimes I just enjoy the quiet.

  24. Rock (80s hair bands, current like Shinedown & Seether); trance/techno like George Acosta & Tiesto; salsa like Celia Cruz & Marc Anthony; country like Taylor Swift…
    The only time I can do classical is when I am writing…and as you can tell, it depends on my mood!

  25. Patricia Pearson

    It varies quite a bit. Audio books most of the time. Lately it is celtic music mostly instrumental and John Serrie. Definitely online movies, especially the old classics. The elaborite sets are so inspiring. I think that is because, if I sit down in the living room to watch a movie, I must have something to do with my hands, maybe crochet, knit, or beadwork, (I don’t use patterns), so it works in the studio too. In a way I’m like Tina, whatever works.

  26. Patricia Pearson

    I also meant to say that I am enjoying this discussion very much. I have often wondered what worked for other artists. Thank you Alyson.

  27. I used to let the TV stay on but I now find that it disrupts the flow-unless I leave it on the music channels. I prefer classical – chamber music sometimes jazz. The music helps me to concentrate on my work and quiets the “monkey mind”. Then again when it is very early in the morning just before the rush hour traffic begins the silence is beautiful.

  28. I like to listen to any music without lyrics (which distract me.) So that can be something like Enya, Delerium, electronic new-age stuff, piano.
    If I am doing something mechanical, like printing or painting the edges of the canvases, then I love listening to This American Life because it’s wonderful story telling.

  29. BBC Radio 3- First rate classical station- doubt if there’s better- with small percentage of air devoted to features on great artists- poets- writers etc- A small amount of air devoted to expermimental- modern- folk- jazz- ethnic- electronic- the finest examples in the genres- an eclectic mix- Classical calms and aids deep concentration- while uplifting the sensibilities- deepening your education and artistic scope- You are exposed to genius at every moment and it rubs off on you and your art- Widens your knowledge- your ability to appreciate and mix with people of the other creative disciplines- Maybe the love of classical is an acquired taste- but there will be moments when you are stunned- and even moved to tears by what you hear- But mainly- it helps you work without distracting you and all the time- you are learning while you enjoy

  30. I listen to public radio, either KNOW (news) or KSJN (classical). Most often, though, I am listening to British (and other) mystery videos. I like the ones with lots of conversation and no car chases, sub-titles, or stories that absolutely require that I watch the screen.

  31. Because I am the primary caregiver for an elderly parent, I have to keep one ear tuned to her calling me if she needs me for something, so I generally don’t listen to anything. On the other hand, even when I didn’t have that responsibility I would oscillate between music and silence (or the hum of local equipment, birds outside, and my thunderstorm CD). When I do listen to something it depends on my mood or the mood I want to evoke in the artwork. Except when I am cleaning or exercising. Then I listen to Gipsy Kings, flamenco, fusion, and classical because those tend to make me start dancing.
    I don’t listen to American music very much. Especially if it has words. Classical is a mainstay but I always end up dancing so I can’t really work to that. Victor Jara, Inti Illimani, and other Andean folkrica, Chieftains, etc are nice to have in the background (unless I start fcusing on them instead of painting, beading, or writing).
    There are some New Age works that are great for depth and exotic feel, as well. I tend to get lost in music, though, so it’s better for creative thought than creative action.
    I have been known to work on bead weaving with the TV on in another room. But it’s not something I find all that conducive to effective creating.
    Hm. My response is far longer and more complex than I anticipated.

  32. I have become a huge fan of audio books. It takes at least a month to weave one tapestry or rug, so audio books keep me going. I bought an inexpensive radio/iPod device with a remote control. Perfect! The downside is that I sometimes get mixed up in my actual reading and listening choices. And I can’t listen when I’m measuring ikat–I lose count!

  33. My work tends to run along either a very zen and contemplative line or dives into the abyss of the socio-political (think Zizek or Chomsky), I listen to Pacifica Radio most days. This is because I listen for clues, ironic little statements about the times in which we live. Art imitating life? Maybe.
    Musically, I move from hardcore punk to the lightness of Vivaldi. It all depends on how I’m feeling about the work and if I need a boost or additional stimulation to move through my process.

  34. Rock and roll and blues! Loud…. Stuff that I can sing along to (thank goodness no one can hear me) and get up from my bench and dance around the studio to…. It keeps me from stiffening up, and it makes me happy.

  35. interestingly varied replies- Each has their own preferences- Some like an ambience- soothing but not distracting- perhaps for high concentration or fine detial work- Some want dramatic- it suits their vivid expressive style- Others may have repetitive tasks- and audio books are good to counter monotony- Perhaps others are good multitaskers and can listen to audiobooks- current affairs- radio drama and suchlike- or even watch dvds-

  36. Lynnda Tenpenny

    Fascinating ! I’m amazed that so many people can make sense of an audiobook while painting. However, I’ve become quite proficient at dancing and painting, so each to their own ! Pandora radio is great.

  37. I listen to NPR. I especially like the interviews often with writers or movie directors. I make narrative sculptures so I like anything that helps me understand the human condition. THe interviewees often tell great stories and I find they can often find their way into my sculptures. I also watch the news…also an interesting study of people. I also admit I love catching ‘The View’ each day. I like their sense of human and the passion they bring when discussing current issues.

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