Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sheds and music

Ah, a shed of one’s own – what bliss that would be! And here I don’t mean the sort that’s filled with tools and woodshavings and garden canes and smells of creosote (though I spent many happy hours in my grandfather’s of that ilk). No, I mean the variety which includes a desk, a chair, a PC and a kettle for tea and smells of creative endeavour. I used to be lucky enough to work in a stable at the end of the garden. Which sounds considerably more romantic than it actually was. It wasn’t particularly rustic – no straw on the floor, or animals, or anything like that - although the occasional pheasant would wander in and out when the door was left open. It was the space – mental as well as physical – which appealed. And the fact that it was away from domestic distractions and far enough from neighbours to allow the playing of rather loud music in the small hours when I was doing an all-nighter on some urgent book or other.

The flip-side of moving to the Muddy Island – or one of several flip-sides in this multi-faceted venture – is that my physical and mental workspace and soundworld must now be shared with others. Which, clearly, on the scale of human hardship, barely registers the merest flicker. But, having landed accidentally on earlier today, I am feeling both inspired and deprived in equal measure. One cannot sing along at high volume to Bach’s B Minor Mass in a room in which someone else is working. Or even one in which someone else is, full stop. Just can’t be done. Nor listen to the Radio 4 Afternoon Play. The shedworking site is bursting with wonderful ideas, though, so well worth a look. Through the many useful and interesting links thereon, I happened upon these: - which are simply gorgeous, but absolutely demand a plain white studio/loft/shed background to do them justice, not the myriad toppling piles of books and paper which constitute my own ‘working environment’.

The site also links to , which is a kind of family tree of different genres of music, including rock and blues, soul, classical, soundtracks and jazz. You pick a genre and then decide whether you want something dark or positive, energetic or calm, and it picks a selection for you, accompanied by a graphic illustration of ways in which you can, literally, ‘branch out’ into other kinds of music with a similar ambiance. The permutations are endless and it will be virtually impossible NOT to stumble upon music you’ve never heard before or to find yourself listening appreciatively to music you might not previously have ventured into exploring. The only potential problem with using it as ‘music to work to’ is that . . . you could well find yourself NOT working at all, as you follow the visual pathways to new auditory experiences.

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