The Muse of Distraction

We’re back! After a final week of boxing and hauling, yesterday was our first day in the new American Music Center office. All is still not completely up and running. Email started coming in again about an hour ago but it is not 100% back and thousands of CDs still need to be reshelved. I’m actually at home today where I know I can write this and post it to the site, but the next words of mine you’ll read will undoubtedly be emanating from the new space. But it begs the question: does a new physical environment somehow change a person’s perspective?

I have such specific work routines both for my writing and my music that are largely based on spaces I have carefully honed over years to suit my specific needs, e.g. books, recordings, and other reference materials, instruments and other tools, etc. I’ve never attended an artist colony largely because it has always seemed to me like being stranded on a desert island. Some people thrive on such islands, finding the distractions of their regular environment less than condusive to creative thinking. I’m quite the reverse—I’m usually totally distracted by anything that is unfamiliar. But that said, the distraction of an unfamiliar setting can also be extremely provocative and that is often the catalyst for brand new ideas, whatever their format. So I look forward to what the new space inspires.

And now that the Chatter pages can receive comments once more (actually since yesterday; read Anne Kilstofte’s post, too), I would love to hear your thoughts about where you find it best to work and why. Are you able to concentrate to your satisfaction in your regular working space, or do you get more inspired by working in unfamiliar environments (e.g. artist colonies, residencies, etc.)? I suppose a corollary to this conversation returns us to the topic of whether you can retain more from hearing music at home, in a concert hall, or roaming the destination of your choice with headphones on. I find I do my best listening at home, yet I also love the social interaction that’s only possible at concerts. But I can’t stand walking around with a soundtrack in my head that differs from the sonic stimuli of the world around me that earphones are supposed to block out. And then there are folks who can conceptualize symphonies by hiking in the woods; I’d just get lost.

One thought on “The Muse of Distraction

  1. rskendrick

    work spaces
    This one is easy for me, I just need some quiet. I used to be able to get that at my house, but after having two kids, I’m much better at composing on the road. And I’m also much better at composing when I don’t have ready access to a computer to distract me (as it is doing right now!).

    Ralph Kendrick, Iowa Composers Forum

    Reply

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