November 1, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
I am a frequent reader and great admirer of Ken Denmead's GeekDad blog, which smartly covers science, technology, film, music and books through an admittedly geekly lens.
Denmead's new book, The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists: The Coolest Experiments and Projects for Science Fairs and Family Fun is filled with easy to follow projects that are as fascinating as they are informative about the concepts behind them.
Music has always been a part of my writing process. I think having good music in the background when writing is just priming the creative pump, and helps get me into a mental rhythm that lets the word flow.
Now, because what I write is almost exclusively non-fiction, I'm never looking for my playlist to set a mood. Indeed, I like my playlist to get out of the way - to create an atmosphere within which I can live and breath and work. So I tend towards music with few, if any words, but strong beats, awesome hooks, and long, lush arrangements. I pretty much listen to downtempo/trip-hop electronica (with a bit of lounge music thrown in for fun) when I'm writing (though one has to be careful when trying to categorize the sub-genres of electronica; there are so many subtle variants that it gets a little complicated).
Being a geek, I like to be in-the-know about things that others might not have heard of before. There's a lot of electronica that never hits the mainstream. For every Moby and Chemical Brothers, there's a hundred other artists putting out awesome music on small labels, and just touring the world and building small-but-rabid fan-bases online.
The funniest thing that has happened more than once is that my wife or kids will call me in from another room where they are watching television. They'll have paused on some car commercial, and when I come in, hit play, and then say "isn't this that band you played for us way back?" And low-and-behold, yes, some advertising person will have found some great song from some artist who may be reasonably well known in Europe, but almost never heard of in the U.S. and then used it as a prop for their cool commercial. And I, as a music geek, will nod and say "yes, yes it is."
I am not, however, a skilled music critic, and as such I don't have loads to say about any given song or group, other than I love them, and their creativity helps me be creative. Which is why I'll simply give you my Top-10 Downtempo/Trip-Hop Bands for Writing To.
9. Ursula 1000
6. Nicola Conte
4. Blue States
Ken Denmead and The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists links:
8BitDad interview with the author
Dr. Michio Kaku interview with the author
Functional Nerds interview with the author
The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy interview with the author
Toronto Star profile of the author
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists