What music do artists listen to?

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Song of the Blackbird

Looking at a documentary about Edmund de Waal, the artist and author of The Hare with Amber Eyes the other day, he said that he listens to American minimal music while he works.  According to Wikipedia: the prominent features of this style of music include consonant harmony, steady pulse, stasis or gradual transformation, and often reiteration of musical phrases…

I suppose some people might say that it was monotonous but actually, I understand his preference.  I would describe it as hypnotic.

I used to listen to Jamaican Dub music at one stage.  More recently I’ve been listening to Qawwali. This is the devotional music of the Sufis, practiced on the Indian subcontinent for over 700 years. Again, it’s a repetitive type of music. It comes and goes. It is hypnotic, it doesn’t interrupt your train of thought. I think that it helps the art in some mysterious way.

And then, it comes to an end. Silence. In the silence that follows, I can hear the city at night, and a Blackbird singing in the garden outside.

What kind of music helps you?

Here’s a link to some Qawwali music, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ui2deAKr8&list=RDyX10uUlBVCg

and to Edmund de Waal’s wonderful ceramic works  http://www.edmunddewaal.com/



  1. Steve Reich, b 1936 was a pioneer of that sort of American ‘minimal music’ that you mentioned. I have been listening to his compositions for the past 10 years or so after being introduced by my ‘sound’ lecturer in DLIADT.

    Recently I went to an amazing recital of his ‘clapping music’ at the national concert hall in Dublin.

    I don’t think that any music can disturb you visually Eoin, but I do feel it can become a crutch if not regulated in the studio space.
    Sometimes you may find yourself turning on music or radio straight away which can become a problem if not kept in check. Like devouring other peoples words in a newspaper or online through habit.!

    When the music is silenced here in the Burren you can hear the mountains and alpine flowers discussing what sort of winter is coming, and the distant faint screech of the Peregrine falcon.


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