Sunday, 3 June 2018

Music For Writers #7: Stephen Palmer

This week on Music For Writers, we have Stephen Palmer, whose inventive and brilliant science fiction novels like The Girl With Two Souls and Hairy London you really should be checking out. But what music does he find inspiration from for such original works, I hear you say. Well, funny you should ask...

Take it away, Stephen:

Like many authors I never listen to music when writing, and when editing or tidying-up I only listen to instrumental music. Words plus mental words equals problems. Music is a huge part of my life, so my other rule is never to listen to anything I know well or which has strong melodies. What I use is tranquil, usually ambient music which is too diffuse or improvised to remember in any detail. This music "sets a mood" for me, in that it allows me to settle down in front of the screen. Here's five from the iTunes list on my Mac…

1. Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa. 
A beautiful piece by a much admired composer, which slowly unfolds and which is ideal for soothing the fevered brow at keyboard...

2. Loop Guru - The Third Chamber. 
Although these remixes by the much-missed world music explorers do have a melodic heart, their repetition makes the music ideal for 'getting lost in' so that the mind is not too distracted. A really wonderful CD this, which is also great for long-distance driving.

3. Toumani Diabaté - The Mandé Variations. 
Like many, I was completely seduced by the sound of the kora when I heard it, and have subsequently bought lots of this master's albums (and a kora). Quite the most beautiful sound from Africa.

Alas Carolyn Hillyer and her other half Nigel Shaw suffer from the New Age tag, which is a shame, as these two musicians - amongst the most exceptional I know - are both superb and deserve a wider audience. Cave Of Elders is completely improvised, consisting of multi-tracked wordless voice. Perfect for sinking into without realising it.

Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Robert Schröder was the soundtrack I grew up to, but almost all subsequent Berlin School music suffers from people just copying the classics. This album however manages to mix keyboards and sequencing into something more.

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