I’m a true child of the city.
For me, this means that I think better when there is a constant stream of white noise that I can block out entirely. It’s the reason I could never study in the library at college; it was so damn quiet that any scrape of a chair, any turning of a page would distract me. My favorite place to go was our school’s Memorial Union building, it was where the post office, bookstore and travel office all came together. It also had the most awesome room looking out onto our quad with huge square cushions where one could set up books/laptops/various studying accoutrements. With the constant stream of students in and out and the bursts of noise from the requisite frisbee-players outside, it was the perfect place for me to concentrate fully on whatever was in front of me.
The same applies now. Minus the protesters, in theory.
I prefer to head out to a favorite local coffeeshop (of which there are many in LA, thankfully. I’m looking at you, Groundworks! I <3 you! ) in order to write or read as there is just enough hum of noise for me to be able to fully enjoy whatever is in front of me. At home, however, it gets a little more difficult as I don’t live in a hostel or commune. YET.
I love putting on background music while I’m writing, or turn on Direct TV’s music channels if I’m on the couch in the living room. But if I’m reading, I can’t listen to music with actual lyrics as my brain just wants to sing along. Instrumental music is a must. For a while I only had a few Firefly songs on repeat (I HIGHLY recommend “Inara’s Suite” if you haven’t heard it), but even the awesomeness of Greg Edmonson can only be listened to so many times. I therefore went on an iTunes binge and put together a still-growing playlist of music I enjoy to have on while gaming/reading/blogging/swiss polka dancing.
Maybe not the last one.
I tended to favor songs from sci-fi and fantasy (Quelle suprise, I’m sure. ) Some of the songs I’d had for a while (River’s Dance/Inara’s Suite/Inside the Tam House from Firefly. I also found out that a few songs I’d had on my iTunes forever like Adiemus was not done by Enya, but rather Karl Jenkins off the Pure Moods, Vol. 1 album. My version of Braveheart’s Theme? Also not by Enya or even James Horner, but rather by Crimson Ensemble on another Celtic compilation album.
I started adding to my collection by looking at various films and easily found songs from favorites like Lord of the Rings. However, I started realizing that while I loved them in the context of the film, they were sometimes a little too distracting and rousing to fit well in the playlist (Although, I did love The Council of Elrond (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen) [feat. “Aniron”] from the original soundtrack. Gorgeous!) They sounded like movie songs. Luckily for me, there were albums out there like Music Inspired By Middle Earth by David Arkenstone that fit perfectly. Movies like Avatar were awesome as well, but only a few songs (like Jake’s First Flight and The Bioluminescence of the Night were the type I was looking for.
The ‘Genius’ sidebar in iTunes was also extremely helpful, leading me to various songs from the Doctor Who and Angel soundtracks, to name a few. I also tend to have an affinity for asian themes, so Going to School from Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorites as well.
I couldn’t leave out anime and video games, so I started with classics like Princess Mononoke (The Instrumental Theme Song is just gorgeous), and Lelianna’s Song from Dragon Age: Origins as well as a few songs from Final Fantasy X are on there (“Wandering Flame” from Disc 4 is a favorite).
As a side note, it is a huge pain in the ass to get a text playlist file from iTunes. Getting a .pdf was fairly easy, but attempting to convert it to something that is easily cut-and-pasteable proved frustrating at best. So unfortunately, I had to make do with only including a .pdf file to easily view all of the songs.