63. Music while you work

Posted on 12/08/2017

63. Music while you work

It should not be too demanding, but at the same time be interesting enough. I listen to a french online radio station called FIP. It is excellent because almost all of its music is interesting, and sometimes so good i make a note of the track and get it on iTunes. I will illustrate here the kind of music I believe adds to the quality of the work one can do without distracting you. Obviously if you are absorbed in something you wont hear the music, but it will be there when you don’t have  to concentrate so hard.

For the purpose of this post I am using videos, but the music is the reason for inclusion rather than any riveting action in the video. To start with: an instrumental. Ray Bryant is a lovely pianist and worth listening to.

But you dont have to listen intently to pick up the charming groove of ‘Slow Freight’: a reference to railways that used to be a staple source of songwriting inspiration in the USA. Partly because musicians at the less well paid end of the spectrum used to ‘ride the rails’ to get to where there might be more work!

This is a bit more attention seeking but since its sung in French lots of people will just listen to it as noise. Its about the magic touch of the French Gypsy! Its also inspired by the great gypsy guitarist Django Rheinhardt who flourished in the 1930’s with his band the ‘Hot Club of Paris’.

JJ Cale always produces a beautifully smooth sound on his guitar. Although he sings, its all part of a mellifluous sound. The title is appropriate, as JJ did not like celebrity and hid from fame, which was nevertheless generated by his immense skill. Eric Clapton plays on this version of ‘They call me the breeze’. He said that h’d spent his life trying to achieve the sound JJ Cale had, and never managed it. So JJ is always a good smooth background to anything you are doing.

Bertrand Belin is a french star who does not go for the English market. However he is a brilliant songwriter and a somewhat enigmatic personality: well worth further study. But this song can be treated as background without going beneath the surface.

Steely Dan always produce a smooth and polished sound, but write good songs. The following is an antique, but they are still producing music  some 40 years on:

I once submitted a song to them when Donald Fagin, I think, advertised for songs. No joy from Fagin but his secretary invited me to visit her any time I was in California. Unfortunately I wasnt there at the time but it was a nice thing to think about!

To end, as I began, with piano here is Errol Garner. A completely left field jazz pianist with a unque way of keeping the rhythm going in his left hand while playing the melody in his right. Most pianists do that, but not as Errol did. Nor do any others, that I have heard, begin a song with a series of neutral chords only for the melody to come delicately in. He was a master of that trick and always a joy to hear. I must put in one reservation: I can’t stand his big hit ‘Misty‘: too slushy for me. Otherwise always good.

That applies whether he is foreground or background. Immensely skilled. But while you work you neednt think of that. Its just a charming tinkling in the background!



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