What do You Listen to While You Work?

As I’ve mentioned in past articles, my dad is an artist. When I was growing up, dad didn’t go off to work like most other kids’ dads, instead he went into the studio every day to paint. I remember dad working long hours in the studio, and you could always count on there being something playing on the radio while he was painting.

Dad has eclectic listening habits, so you might hear anything from the local classical music station, rock ‘n roll, country music, talk shows (of every variety, including some pretty strange stuff at night on the AM dial), National Public Radio or something from his record collection. I can’t even begin to imagine him at work without some sort of audio playing.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would pick up some of the habit. I love a wide variety of music thanks to the range of genres I was introduced to when I hung out in dad’s studio. I especially love classical music and am a big supporter of public classical radio, and I know this is a direct result of listening to the classical music stations in both Idaho, where we lived until I was thirteen, and summered after that, and Arizona, where we began spending the winters in 1987.

It’s almost hard for me to concentrate without music, and I know this is true of many artists. It’s a bit different for me than for an artist because music is really only in the background in the gallery.  When I’m working in my office, however, I often have on headphones. Because I’m typically working on advertising, crunching numbers or writing, I can’t listen to music or other audio that demands attention. News and talk are out, and anything that is highly focused on vocal performance are mostly banned because they slow me down and distract. Instead I listen to classical music or instrumental movie soundtracks. I particularly love Bach, Beethoven and Handel, and scores by Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor and Philip Glass.

Listening to music helps me maintain my focus on the task at hand, preventing my mind from wandering, while at the same time blocking out potential distractions.

Which leads me to today’s question: What do you listen to while you are in the studio? What have you found to be the most effective audio to accompany your working habits? Are there some things you can’t listen to while working? Share your strategy and a sample of your playlist in the comments below.

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114 Comments

  1. As a musician as well as an artist I always listen to music when painting. I especially love listening to 60’s rock and roll particularly British Invasion variety. But sometimes I just listen to classical especially in Sunday’s. Don’t know why but that’s just what I tend to do! When I need to hurry up I will put on something a little harder like Guns N Roses!

  2. I always listen to music. I can’t do podcasts like some people do because I can’t listen effectively. I like nearly all genres including jazz, reggae, classical, Spanish guitar and of course, my favorite, rock and roll.

  3. I listen to books on audible, I listen to Ted talks, I listen to music, I listen to political discussions on the radio and anything that piques my interest. Some people say it’s difficult to paint and listen at the same time but I guess my brain has developed independent parts that work together.

  4. I like rock and roll, classical, blues and jazz. I turn it on when I get started in the studio, but really only barely register what’s on after I’ve gotten into a painting. While I love podcasts like NPR’s Fresh Air, that’s only for doing things like framing or cleaning up (or, more likely, the car), because I’d find talk way too distracting when I’m working.

    1. Great topic . I’ve wondered if I had company on this. For me a wide variety from mostly live stream and recorded uptempo with /mantra-like melodies from YouTube “seamless” “Chill”/Club mixes and female vocal “chill”, from u.s. and world wide YouTube posters. Then classic rock to occasional contemporary Christian.

  5. Before my daughter begins a commission, she ask the client for their favorite music. She plays this while she paints.It works . . .She says the painting instantly resonates with the client. . .

  6. I listen to Celtic music. It is so “otherworldly”, it takes me away to a wonderful and creative place! Some of the music has words and I often sing along on my breaks. I have tried some other music but I always come back to my Irish roots!

    1. Love love love Vivaldi’s Four seasons! I usually listen to a collection of my own , everything from classical, pop, Motown, rock or spiritual. Then set it on “Shuffle”. Love music always.

  7. I like the quiet. I live in a rural area where there are no urban noises, no honks, no street sounds; only birds and a fountain located on the porch of my studio. I don’t listen to music at all while I paint. Hmmm. I’ll give it a try. I’m going to play some music today and see how it feels.

    1. I may listen to classical music in the late or finishing parts of a painting but, at any other moments, find it far too distracting.l

  8. I always have music on, but find that music with vocals (ie words) is distracting. It can be jazz (but not too atonal), classical, new age… the exception to my “no vocals” rule is music in a foreign language that I don’t understand. I like Latin, African, etc – the rhythms are great. Of course, when I’m cleaning up, blues or classic rock is just fine!

  9. Rock, jazz, classical, country…audiobooks, NPR. It depends on my mood. One time when I was finishing up a piece late at night, I listened to Everybody Wants to Rule The World, by Tears For Fears, on repeat over and over on my headphones. Everything was coming together great as I was in the zone. Finally went to bed around 2:30.

  10. I listen to jazz music, mostly cool jazz, swing or bop, mostly instrumental. And not to radio, because I find advertising disturbing. I can also work in silence. We have jazz impro and live painting sessions at our gallery in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec, Canada), which is great – painting with musicians playing, but I realized that I am so focused on my painting that I “forget” to listen, even if they are playing on the stage right beside me.

    1. R Carlos Nakai and Peter Kater are almost always on – along with the How the West was Lost , both CD’s. Nice to know I have an audio ” sister ” out there. a smile Shari

  11. Great topic . I’ve wondered if I had company on this. For me a wide variety from mostly live stream and recorded uptempo with /mantra-like melodies from YouTube “seamless” “Chill”/Club mixes and female vocal “chill”, from u.s. and world wide YouTube posters. Then classic rock to occasional contemporary Christian.

  12. I am of a different breed of artist for I do not listen to any music at all. When I am painting or drawing I prefer to be mainly focused on what I am working on with no distractions. This allows my full attention to be centered on nothing other than what I am creating in front of me. Same goes when I am working on my mixed media constructions. Usually the sound of the table saw, chop saw, etc. drowns out the music anyways.

    1. Me too, Michael. I listen to my inner self when painting, and completely focus on my interaction with the paint and canvas,

  13. I’m a big fan of chill step, ambient music, or sometimes EDM. Sometimes I just throw on a movie on Netflix and have it playing in the background. This weekend, however, the weather was nice enough that I could open a window and hear birds singing, so I spent a good deal of time with no music on, just painting in relative silence to the sound of the singing birds. It was lovely.

  14. I bounce between long form, meditative ambient, like ambientsleepingpill.com, and/or dramatic movie scores such as American Beauty, Interstellar, Prospect, Machinarium.

    Theming my time in the studio with such tones allows me to connect emotionally while working. Somehow, this makes me enjoy the painting as an observer, as well as, the creator during the process.

  15. Depending on my mood and needs, classical music, Leonard Cohen, Broadway love songs, pianists,etc. Spotify helps immensely and puts together works I’ve played in the past. For a nontechie, i find it easy to use.

  16. YouTube music and musician interviews are almost always playing . David Bowie and Ramin Karimloo , Pink Floyd and the Avett Brothers are some of my favorites . I’m so glad I found your site . Look forward to meeting you at the NC workshop .

  17. I listen to the Oldies ( 1960 – 1970) music , mainly from my cd collection or downloaded music. my
    playlist consist of music like Cherish, Stormy, Turn Back Time, etc. Sorry Jason, but I cannot stand classical, opera, and country music.

  18. I have been creating Graphite Works since I was 6, but this is the first time now at 60 that I have decided to push my art to the public.
    Because of the subject matter I do, I like old country like Ian Tyson, Cris Ledoux, Micheal Martin Murphy. I have a tenancies to turn it up.
    The other thing I listen to are TV programs on Netflix that I have seen a thousand times

  19. Oooo, good question!

    I am finding myself starting my studio sessions by reviewing what I’m working on (right now there are 3 different media calling my attention, with one of those being my main line of work), determining which I feel most clear-headed about, and then setting up my paints & equipment accordingly. Often, when beginning a project, I keep the music off until I find my groove with the image. Otherwise, I turn on the music that best matches my mood and feels most supportive of my energy.

    Typically, it’s jazz–www.jazzradio.com is a great resource, as we no longer have jazz radio stations in southwest Connecticut–and I have my old record collection in the studio, as well as tapes, CDs, and my iPod. Sometimes, I listen to R&B, soul, classic rock, ambient, classical–even added Icelandic vibes a couple of years ago, with Sigur Ros leading that line of investigation.

    One of my occasional “treats” is putting on an album included in the Christmas music my parents used to play, which features a Puerto Rican group popular in the mid-1900s, and the songs typically sung in Puerto Rico at that time.

    My go-to albums lately seem to be anything by Don Fagen/Steely Dan.

  20. In addition to spinning classical & blues albums on the turntable, I’m a real YouTube junkie on my smart TV. While painting, I listen to documentaries & lectures on Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper & Winslow Homer (my preferred watercolor genre), in addition to art history, philosophy & literature subjects. I love artists’ and writers’ interviews as well. None of this distracts from my painting as I selectively listen, seldom looking up to watch.

  21. I was raised on classical music growing up, so it was natural for me to listen to this while I paint.

    Although I find it gets me in the mood when I turn on my stereo, once I am in the painting groove, the

    background music is almost irrelevant because of the intensity of my concentration.

  22. Everything from obscure Russian choral music to head-banging alt rock; I also listen to talk radio! I love Michael Savage’s podcasts, especially when he’s talking about making meatballs

  23. Audio books, especially ones that I have previously read. For years I took a painting class where there was a lot of chatter and having something I can tune in and out of became my norm.

    Bonus: murder mysteries are the best. When a telemarketer startles me, I can leave the phone engaged and let the caller listen to an autopsy report.

  24. My list is too long and it includes all genres of music.
    This is for Greg D try some cutting edge classical like John Adams while you are painting. Nothing like emotion adding emotion to your works! You might change your opinion.

  25. My daughter asks her clients for their favorite music which she plays while she works on their painting. She says they love the work; somerthing in the painting resonates with them on a higher
    level.

  26. Quiet definitely has its place but I mostly listen to instrumental stuff that can be pretty out there. Nowadays mostly my playlist or spodify/Pandora, Pat Metheny radio. Have been really getting into Thundercat and Kamasi Washington Radio as well. Some days can be classical or the Beatles. Always like to hear about what inspires others.

  27. Hawaiian slack key guitar is my favorite. Jeff Peterson and Paul Togioka are my favorites. Both are usually instrumental only and their albums contain a mix of very soothing and relatively energetic works.

  28. I always listen to music. But if I know the words or it has a beat, it doesn’t work. When I walk through the door I say “Alexa, Pandora” and my George Winston channel comes on. It’s been refined over time. In addition to George Winston, some of the best is from The Secret Garden and Porcelain albums. The music is so soothing and relaxing. It allows my mind to go where it needs to go when I paint. Music has always been important in my life, and the atmosphere in these times is highly stressful. I need to escape into painting and music let’s me do that.

  29. Being an amateur classically trained musician/composer as well as a practicing visual artist, I need no music. The reason is simple. I listen to music with a musician’s focus. This has been the case since childhood. I can’t have it as “background” because it never stays there.
    Whatever I’m working on, my attention is riveted there. This is both a blessing and a curse.

  30. I mainly listen to very quiet, simple music, often harp or guitar types. Now and then book on CD, but that depends on what I am doing. I can’t concentrate on both at once if I am into “real” painting. If I’m just blocking in, getting panels ready, etc. then books are fine. I can not listen to loud, jazzy, etc. It just boggles my concentration.

  31. Lately I have been into talking books however I have to resonate with the persons voice….at the moment I like Allistar McColl Smiths’s “Number one Detective Agency” series. I grew up in Alberta Canada and it was very country and I still enjoy country music. I can really get into the groove whilst painting to country. lol

  32. I owned a record store for 33 years and listened to music 24/7. Sixteen years ago we closed the store and I began painting instead of doing advertising for the store. I rarely listen to anything while painting as I know it will influence what I paint, unless I am intentionally painting the music. The music inside my head does not distract me the way outside music does.

  33. With a few exceptions, not much music is out of bounds when I’m making art. The ‘line is drawn’ though when it comes to acid rock types … one exception would be if I chose to do a strong abstract of something similar to the sinking of the Titanic! I like what Damon Pla says…he enjoys being the observer as well as the creator as he paints…that it allows him to connect emotionally, that it makes him “enjoy the painting as an observer as well as the creator during the process”. That is a lesson for artists right there.

  34. Linda Post summed up my listening policy perfectly, lots of variety but no English-language vocals. A special category for me is the occasional Italian opera. I sometimes feel that Verdi or Puccini is guiding my brush. I once painted a landscape while listening to a Met Opera broadcast of Lucia di Lammermoor with Anna Netrebko in the lead role…it was like being in another world!

    I live in the city so music also obscures the sounds that are more distracting. I don’t use books on tape, also too distracting, but I know artists who do. And no news broadcasts during or prior to my studio time.

  35. Sometimes music from my childhood or college like the Beatles, Joni Mitchell or Phoebe Snow. More often Jazz or classical especially Bach cello suites or well known operatic arias. Never podcasts or talk radio.

  36. Every weekend myself and two or three other friends get together and digitally record two to three hours of an improvisational jam on strings and wind which I play during the following week in the studio.

  37. I always listen to music when I paint. Like your dad, my tastes are eclectic—from classical to choral to bluegrass, folk, musical soundtracks, and much more. (No rock, pop, or jazz, though—way too distracting.) My musical choice of the day largely depends on what I’m working on—it helps set the mood. If I’m painting detail or something that takes concentration, I’ll listen to classical or choral music. Other times, when I want to make a bolder statement, or paint a little looser and not get bogged down in details, I’ll play music that’s upbeat and loosens me up and gets me moving. Music with lyrics doesn’t bother me. I’ll actually sing along, but it doesn’t distract me because it’s like a separate part of my brain is engaged. For me, painting wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without music!

  38. I love all types of music, opera possibly being the exception. I was raised on 60’s rock. AM back then specifically WLS in Chicago. Aah the “Silver Dollar Survey”, where they ran down the top 40 day after day. In the studio these days I turn on Pandora and let it go. Fave station: Calexico and Iron and Wine. Others: Poco, Gram Parsons. Soft stuff. Or I put on FM 105.5, The Colorado Sound. Actually a public radio station that is music oriented with rock, blues, some jazz, oldies, new stuff, stuff you’ve never heard of. I like it so much I became a supporting member.

  39. I love music but I mostly listen to audio books. Abstract expressionism is my chosen art form so listening to books helps me refrain from over thinking my paintings. I get lost in a story and my work is more free flowing. It’s an incredibly enjoyable experience.

  40. Since the creative right side of the brain requires intense focus and concentration I cannot listen to anything that has words which would activate the left side of the brain pulling me away from that creative centre. The exception is music in a foreign language. I find the genre of music needs to fit both my mood and the piece I am working on at the time so my choice of music and style change with every work of art.

  41. Hmm it depends upon the emotion of the piece I’m working on. I have many playlists from classical to rock to paisley underground and even a three hour one to lose myself in an Arabic desert. I use my iPod on a Bose dock for intimate sounds and my Quad hi fi for getting LOUD …. usually for big, dramatic pieces.
    I never do art without music.

  42. I feel so fortunate because my husband is a composer/jazz pianist and currently working on his CD so there is always this wonderful, easy-listening jazz in the background. I’ve been spoiled so it totally makes me happy that he is being creative while I am doing painting. When I need a little uplift, I listen to my favorites over the years and some are vocals but it sets my mood (in the machine right now: Eva Cassidy, Diana Krall, Nora Jones, Sally Harmon-local pianist, and Michael Buble),

    Several workshop I’ve been in have classical music because one teacher said classical opens up the brain better than any other style — I agree with several others that Beethoven and Bach are especially positive to put on. It helps to keep the “chatter” down.

  43. I typically have one song that captures the mood of my work, and I keep listening to that song until the work is finished. This has been a useful tool when I had to step away for too long and try to get back to it. The blog link attached explains how I used a TV show as the soundtrack for one painting (and I’ve been way away from that one, so re-running the show on Netflix will be useful.) Currently I’m working on a book cover, and apparently The X-Files Season 3 is the soundtrack for this project!

    1. Interesting in that I have not quite the same habit, but close. My music is all over the map rock, blues, Celtic, classical, jimmy buffet who is a muse- also music from TV shows and movies. While a painting may have different songs that I listen to while working, one song will emerge that attaches to the piece and it gets the most airplay. That song will always be associated with the painting

  44. absolutely NO sounds when I am painting, for me. Some people, including you, Jason say “crunching numbers or writing, I can’t listen to music or other audio that demands attention” so I can’t imagine how working on a painting would require less attention than writing?
    I like classical music, but I listen to it like I would watch a movie, giving it full attention. That’s why probably I don’t play music much. I cannot multitask when it comes to arts. I am usually so completely in the zone when working, I can barely say how much time I was working when having a break or ending work.

  45. My mosaic work requires cutting my materials (marble, stone, etc.) with a hammer and hardie (a chisel-type cutting edge). It is a cutting method that has been used for centuries to create small pieces or “tiles” used to make a mosaic. I enjoy listening to sitar music as I cut and arrange my materials on the mosaic’s substrate. The music is very rhythmic and for me, has a mystical quality that reminds me of the great history mosaics have played in recording the events and art of the past.

    Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Aashish Khan, and others.

  46. Painting is, for me, an act of worship, and most of the time I find worship music lifts my soul and helps me focus. Recent favorites are Josh Garrels and Jason Upton. Sometimes I switch to classical or good country, depending on what I am painting. I have Spotify premium and if I play selected music, then it creates a playlist and introduces me to new music based on my original selection. Also, if you haven’t checked out Jive Live Radio it is free, non-stop, and can be streamed through the internet so download the ap and check it out! A student of John Singer Sargent reported that the great artist was more concerned about what records she brought to listen to while they painted than most anything else. All the art forms benefit each other, and, as visual artists, we are fortunate we can work with music. And maybe can’t work without it!

  47. When I am struggling with what to paint, or with a passage or idea in my painting process, I will work in silence. I need to listen for help with problem solving that always comes as delicate feelings that would be quashed by surrounding noise. Some artists refer to this as working in “the zone.” I get my best ideas for new directions for my work most often when I work in silence. I do listen to music when I have solved problems and am simply executing the work order. I prefer strictly instrumental works. Lately, I have looked for music that I haven’t ever heard before because much of what is in my collection brings back memories that are distracting to my purpose at hand. I will listen to talk radio when I have a long stretch of being without my husband when he is traveling, but prefer those hosts who concentrate on issues beyond political haggling and with an attitude of teaching history and civics from authoritative sources, and with a dash of humor.

  48. I cannot listen to music. It takes over my brain and I cannot concentrate. (That’s difficult when in a class that DOES want music paying.)
    Strangely, I can zone out talk radio or old movies, they are almost whitenoise that I hardly notice.

    My best environment to paint is quiet, but preferably nature. Not CDs, but actual nature. In winter indoors, there is just the sound of the crackling fire. But in warmer weather, windows open, or painting outdoors – I am SO fortunate to live on wooded acreage. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, along with silent critters abound. Breeze through the trees and a babbling brook. My perfect playlist.

  49. 80s Alternative from New Wave to punk and hard core, with some hippie music my parents listened to thrown in there. I also listen to NPR a lot, not wanting to listen to the news with my kids. I get get the highlights without needing to give it my full attention. I can only listen to audio books and art pod casts if I am touching up edges or preparing panels.

  50. I like to have classical piano music playing and my favorites are Mozart or Chopin, and also enjoy listening to Josh Groban or Andre Bocelli singing Italian operatic songs. I find it soothing and good for creating with the pallet of colors I work with.

  51. Eno, Can, Bowie, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Belly, X, Big Brill Car, Cat Power, Throwing Muses and Kikagaku Moyo have most recently been my playlist. I find that I’m a better painter when listening to music loudly – luckily my neighbors and husband are all at work when I’m painting : )

  52. I am a night owl and paint late into the night so the perfect classical music source for me is the NPR program, Music Through the Night! I listen to it via my computer live streaming on my favorite NPR station, NCPR.org. When it is not on, I use the Music Choice on my TV and usually tune into light classical or soundscape music….and when I really need some movement and activity, I will tune into a jazz station for a limited time…. I have favorites in my iTunes library which I will tune into when I want to go to a certain mood or atmosphere such as Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck…and anything by Paul Simon or Simon and Garfinkel or my classical list….it helps tremendously with my brushwork in the studio as well as color choices, etc. Rhythm being one of the basic principles in critiquing a work comes into play naturally as a result..I am a watercolorist and the paint just flows along….I literally move to the music as I paint…..painting en plein air is also affected by the natural sounds around me. It becomes a multi-sensory experience!

  53. Absolutely no talking of any kind! That includes song lyrics and advertising. I listen primarily to classical music, but also contemporary work such as by Marjan Mosetich, Philip Glass, etc. And except for the calmest days, I always have the constant sound of waves breaking on the beach below my boat house studio windows, broken by the occasional call of a Bald eagle. Often when the music stops I don’t even notice.

  54. I listen to “Strange things on the AM dial” type podcasts as well as classical and classical style music, like video game and movie soundtracks. The type of music with no words. I also very often listen to Binaural beats. It really depends on my mood, or if I need a kick in the creativity, hence binaural beats.

  55. I enjoy anything classical but particularly Beethoven.
    Jazz groups are great. I like the Ramsey Lewis Trio particularly. I listen to the big bands from time to time. I also like Flamenco guitar. Carlos Montoya and Carlis Yepes come to mind.

  56. I have several stations on Pandora I listen to. My favorite at the moment is my Joni Mitchell station because it not only has lots of her songs but also songs from some of my other favorite artists: Neil Young; Crosby, Stills, Nash; Cat Stevens; Carol King, and James Taylor. Sometimes I listen to a station called Chill Coffee House, since It has lots of unplugged versions of some of my favorite rock tunes. I also listen to the sounds of rain and the surf.

  57. I’m also a Artist/Musician. I listen to 60s, 70s Rock n Roll. Certain heavy metal. And some good jazz stuff. Especially Steely Dan. Sometimes I’ll run episodes of Andy Griffith. One night I ran off a charcoal series of classic horror icons while watching(actually listening) several classic horror movies.

  58. Wow! So many responses and so many different listening styles. I prefer no lyrics as that distracts me. So instrumental music, either calm and quiet or energetic and jazzy, depending on what I am painting and how I am feeling. I have been using Pandora lately as I am tired of my own playlist. I think that what I am listening to definitely influences how and what I am painting!

  59. I used to listen to music, mostly metal and prog rock, while working in my glass studio. These days, mostly podcasts, audio books, and lectures.

    When I am doing mindless tasks like foiling pieces of glass or putting cards into sleeves I watch TV series shows that are more visual (Game of Thrones, Sopranos, or often movies that I missed when they came out in the theater).

    If I’m painting Plien-aire I never bring any audio stuff with me. The only exception was when I was doing a painting from a busy highway and wore headphones inside ear protection.

  60. Even tho I play classical piano, I don’t listen to it when painting. I love the “Il Divo” Tenors, Andrea Bocelli. Eric Clapton and classical guitar. I always have music on and my pet parrot is often sitting on the back of a chair in the studio swaying to the music.

  61. Mostly audio books from the library. Either downloaded or CD. Sometimes music too, but mostly stories of all kinds from mystery and Sci-Fi to YA. I have artwork I can ID by the story I listened to at that time.

  62. Sarah McLachlan and Sara Bareilles when I’m staring at the white canvas. Once the painting is grooving, I switch to Enigma and Marvin Gaye…really loud! Oh, I need lots of chocolate! Painting is a celebration for me!

  63. When I’m doing the more boring things – gessoing boards, taping, resining them, I love audiobooks. When I need a flow, I love listening to my painting playlist off my iPad. It gets me moving and gets the art flowing really well. I love listening online to The Coast, a radio station from the Mendocino Coast I became addicted to when I was doing an Artist in Residence program there, but don’t always want my computer in the area where I’m doing my art because it’s messy (pour painting).

    Sometimes, though, I will listen to an audiobook even while in the painting process – sometimes I need it to keep my left-brain editor out of the way.

  64. I love to listen to Rachmaninov, Mozart, Ravel, Aaron Copland -and many other things Classical in nature.
    Once when I was studying in France at art school, someone asked if they could play music, not too loud, and the whole studio group agreed. The artist brought in Ravel’s Bolero. As it began to go faster in tempo, so too did all of that twists. By the end, everyone was painting in a frenzy!

  65. I was raised on classical and folk, but I’ll listen to nearly everything except opera and hip hop or rap. My former coworkers said I had the most eclectic taste in music they’d ever seen. I’m a photographer and when I’m out shooting, I just listen to the woods, the water, etc.. But when I’m in the darkroom, the radio goes on before I even mix up the chemicals. I can’t get any great radio stations here, so I usually listen to what I’ve ripped from old CDs and put on an old iPhone. That way I don’t have to hear annoying DJs either. I only need to watch out that I don’t have the bass so loud that it makes the enlarger jiggle.

  66. While working on my art I listen to the local radio station that plays mostly rock. But, a better question might be, what type of music should you play in the gallery???? Should it be something you enjoy to pass the time or what you might believe your visitors might like so as to spur a sale????

  67. Instrumentals, Classical, Native flute, chants. Only vocals I can listen to softly while working are World Music (Putomayo) in foreign languages so I’m not distracted by lyrics! Interesting – I can deal with lyrics when jewelry-making, but not painting.

  68. I listen to Beatles, Beach Boys, 60’s and 80’s rock & roll, rock-a-billy, new and old country – especially 80’s stuff, Christian talk and music (old hymns to current stuff). And with the recent changes in my work, I’ve come to the conclusion that I want my paintings to make others feel the same way music makes me feel. I’m painting the music.

  69. Artist podcasts, esp. Artists Helping Artists, Colored Pencil Podcast, The Studio, & Art Juice. Also audiobooks. For music, classical, esp. piano: Chopin, Mozart, Rachmaninoff. Listening to any of the above and doing my artwork puts me in my happy place. 😊

  70. Always classical when I’m in the studio. There is a business renting below me so I keep the volume down until 5 pm after that the volume increases. I have performed in Cabernet and sang jazz for years at that time my work was oversized abstracts in wax pencils and pastels. Now my music reflects what I paint which is beautiful peaceful landscapes, so great classical music from the radio station I support annually is a perfect surround. When at home alone it is silence only as I sketch in pencil with a gentle snow shoe Siamese by my side. Love your articles, thoughtful titles that alway interest me and enjoy reading the comments that follow. It proves again how enriching our creative community continues to be.

  71. Everything from Buena Vista Social Club, to Mozart, to Nitzer Eb, to Morphine, to Nick Drake, to The Chameleons (UK), to Gustavo Santaolalla. But when I am outside, I prefer the music of birds, frogs, insects, and the wind flowing through grass and trees.

  72. I have listened to the Quebec station ICI Musique on the CBC for years, it’s good French practice, and the songs of Isabel Boulay, Ariane Moffatt, Fred Pellerin, Zachary Richard, and others are terrific. Later in the day I switch to BBC Radio 4, at the moment I’m listening to Bill Nighy in a Charles Paris mystery. I enjoy working alone, but Radio 4 offers a bit of company.

  73. When I have to think as I’m doing my composition, I play my own list of music from my phone to my jambox. I agree that playing foreign language music is a good way not to tune in to much when you need to think. Once I get rolling along I listen to comedy podcasts/interview shows such as Conan needs a Friend or Marc Maron, or NPR.
    I like all sorts of music, folk rock, Coldplay, Kurt Vile, Conor Oberst, and Hawaiian music. Spanish or Italian or French language music! I sing, I whistle and I paint.

  74. For me it depends on the mood of the painting and where I want it to go. Smooth jazz, Classical and many other genres set the mood of the studio for a particular day or piece of art.

  75. It depends on the day. I love working in silence. It is like a meditation. But sometimes I need music and I love the Four Seasons from Vivaldi because it is do joyous and also the Nocturnes from Chopin because it is so soft.

  76. As a retired singer and music store employee, you’d think i would have music on all the time.
    I have totally changed my habits over the last few years and normally listen to audio spy novels.
    I have hundreds of records and cassettes and some cds, but i never have enough time or energy to read before I go to bed.
    So, i paint and solve mysteries at the same time. I’m not sure what that says about me but I love audios so this is my process for now at least.

  77. Amazing to read of the variety of music artists utilize.

    Personally I prefer to sing and shake my booty as I work. For me this allows another level of expression.

    My favorites being the following stations on Pandora:

    Black Keys Radio
    Lowrider Oldies Radio
    Fleetwood Mac Radio
    70s Rock Radio
    70s Funk Radio
    Classical Guitar Radio
    And Classical Dinner Party Radio

  78. I have a big-screen tv in my studio. I usually watch youtube art videos. Most of the time they are muted if I don’t like the music selection, but I do this because it makes me feel as though I am in a group painting with others. I’m not much of a music person for some reason, but I do like to think, so listening to talk inspires me. I spend most of my days at home with no noise. This created a problem in art classes when the other students insisted on their music, which was rarely my choice because I was usually at least 10 years older than the other students. I would insist the professor do something about it because I was a paying, degree student and it distracted me. Sometimes we compromised on the music choices, but they learned to use their headphones.

  79. Ted Talks, unless the talk has visuals, as I am looking at something else. Then I look at my paintings later and remember the talk as I painted that particular area. Other times, salsa or kizomba.

  80. Scrolling through the responses was enlightening. I somehow thought that there would be a common thread…even if miniscule….that linked creative minds. NOT!
    Any kind of music works for me AS LONG AS there are no words. I eventually sing along if there are words.
    There goes a piece of my attention to the drawing, painting, tonal values, image accuracy. Yikes!
    Congrats to those creating while their mind simultaneously processes an audio book. That link didn’t
    make it into my gene pool!
    This question produced ‘fun’! …the responses don’t affect an artistic outcome.
    The answers just don’t matter!! LOVE IT!
    Thanks Jason.

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