Pandora may be the greatest invention since sliced bread. Seriously.
I usually have music in the background when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s job is to white-noise away* distractions, sometimes to inspire or motivate or relax. Sometimes it’s just fun to have there, for no particular reason. I used to compile endless mix tapes – then mix CDs, then mix playlists – so that I always had a collection of music for the mood I was in. I spent hours sorting through my music, trying to amass the perfect combination of words, melodies, and emotions so they were there when I needed them – because there’s nothing more annoying than wanting to listen but not having the right stuff to listen to.
Then along came Pandora. What a fabulous thing – to be able to have any kind of music at my fingertips in an instant. And it’s free! I don’t even have to sort through things or figure out what goes with what – the beautiful computer wizards do that for you. Sure, sometimes you have to skip over a song**, but generally speaking, the hours I used to spend sorting can now be spent doing other (translation: productive) things. Things like writing. Or time-wasting. (teehee)
I also think it’s cool that you can not only make/save your own stations, but that you can direct other people to them too. I can let you listen to the music that inspires or comforts me, the stuff that I need in the background when I’m concentrating or that I rock out to when I need a distraction. I have seen a handful of authors include postscripts or afterwords that include either a song list or information about the bands/albums they listened to while writing or heard in their heads while their stories were gelling. Add these things to the ever-increasing popularity of e-books and online reading platforms, I wonder if we’re getting close to a world in which authors provide soundtracks to their books. I can’t decide if I’d like that or not. I suspect it might be like seeing the movie of a book I like – once the movie studio’s vision of the actors and locations are stuck in my head they replace my own, and usually not for the better. I like what I create in my head, how the people and places grow out of the words. It’d be the same, I suspect, with the soundtrack to stories.
Still, not everyone feels that way – witness the popularity of movie adaptations – so I guess it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the tech went that way. It wouldn’t be for me, but I suspect it would be seen as a plus to a lot of people. Me, I’ll stick with my Pandora stations of my choosing and the music in my head…
If you’re curious, here are a few of my Pandoras:
*Does anyone else do that – make non-verb words into verbs? I do it a lot. (1) – it makes me giggle. (2) – it’s surprisingly descriptive. (3) – I like making up words.***
** Or six – it’s weird: for me there is either one song I don’t like or a slew in a row, which seems to fly in the face of algorithmic math, but what I know about algorithmic math couldn’t fill a dixie cup, so who knows, maybe it’s not weird. Sorry, rambling…
***I also like footnotes.