Updated: Musical Anthology (with guidance notes)

A while ago I posted a page of music that goes well with stuff, complete with notes on appropriate application. I say stuff – it’s mainly baking at the moment, but Network Rail have written to me to say that the railway line near the bottom of my garden will be subject to night-time engineering works almost every night from November until just before Christmas. Joy to the world, indeed.

I’m going to need some seriously calming music to get me through that. I’m up all night but I can’t play music loudly then because my house is terraced, so I’ve got neighbours to upset just on the other side of the wall from the speakers. I’ve also got a father with awful tinnitus so I won’t be going down the headphones route either, having seen what can happen if you blast loud noise into your ears. Not being able to hear music at the volume I have to keep it overnight would massively impinge on my listening habits so I’ll just need to close doors on that side of the house and find something in which to get lost.

I love music – always have done – having been raised to enjoy music generally and exposed to a broad range of it from day one. As a result, my library has lots of different styles, although it occurs to me I’m missing any Patagonian nose flute playing… Well, not missing, as such, I’m not itching to add some. But I’ve got medieval music through to death metal and lots of stuff in between, almost all of which I listen to frequently, depending on my mood and activity.

Unlike my father, I don’t have an extensive hip hop collection (we’re still receiving family counselling after that little revelation, made funnier by his insistence that he only likes “the clean stuff”) but I appear to have a growing amount of rap. (Listening to this is liable to inspire me to rap alternative lyrics for the benefit of my daughter, when I’m cooking for her, leading her to issue one of an increasingly large number of music-related Banning Orders. I don’t understand why she doesn’t appreciate my efforts: it’s not like I didn’t gamely suffer through her recorder festivals and early attempts to become a pop star and my stuff’s much better than that.)

At the top of the list of music in which I just get lost is Pachelbel’s Canon and it’s unfair that so many people dislike it through over-familiarity: a victim of its own success. Try that variation: just like my daughter shouts almost constantly through every episode of Hannibal we’ve watched together, “it’s people“! It’s the choir, Libera, singing Sanctus, from their Angel Voices album.

Much as I enjoy that one, I’ll tune in too much to the voices, so the one I can just forget I’m playing on repeat would be a classic version without ‘stuff’ done to it. It’s almost entirely the fault of the cellos, I’m sure, although the violins are lovely too and the pizzicato [one year of violin lessons, people: get me and my fancy music talk] just plunks along in a way that makes me smile, always. Go on, listen: it’s lovely, and then go and listen to lots of baroque music because it’s beautiful generally.

It’s not that I tune it out totally while I’m concentrating, although I do like that sort of thing as well – Einaudi‘s good for that. Nope, this is stuff that gets in my head and makes my brain tap its metaphorical foot while demanding moar, please, while I get on with whatever it is that I’m doing. It’s not usually one element, and I stop listening to lyrics after a while anyway: it’s just all the bits combine to make something that does it for me. What somebody that I used to know called a “glorious noise” as a way of explaining it. I deliberately avoid trying to understand it too much from a technical perspective. 🙂

An example of another one of these would be Royals, by Lorde. I have no idea why: it’s not the usual thing that I’d listen to, but I’m adding it to the anthology under a ‘good with everything’ note. It’s especially good for repetitive tasks like cutting out cookies and peeling veg, but I’m just as likely to have something like this going while I learn HTML and CSS. Check it out below.

If the original isn’t your sort of thing, you might like to try this a capella cover, by Pentatonix. You probably want to avoid doing what I did, though, when I turned my speaker volume up far too high, to try and hear the audio on a crochet tutorial video. An hour or so later, when I’d finished that, I decided to listen to some music, hit shuffle on my playlist and their version started.

These are not my speakers, but they are those model.

These are not my speakers, but they are this model.

I’m not even going to try and replicate it to work out how high the volume was – it was far higher than it ever usually is. It was about 2 a.m., I was nicely chilled from Canadian women with wonderfully soporific voices repeating the same three crochet stitches 10,000 times and then that started up. Now, I don’t have especially good speakers and I’m pretty sure that squeezing them in where I could on my desk isn’t the best way to arrange them, but my laptop speakers are abysmal: the worst I’ve ever known. Honestly, I’ve heard better sound coming from a wind-up crib mobile…

The speakers are better, despite the bright blue LED on the subwoofer driving me insane from the day I bought it. It sits on my desk and always shone into my left eye. I tried painting over it but it was impressively bright. In the end, after several years of owning them, I stuck silver gaffer tape over the LED. Two pieces because one wasn’t thick enough. Of course, now I keep forgetting they’re switched on which means I’m liable to turn them up thinking they’re off when they’re not…

So, yes, that track started and I got kicked in the face by the sound wave emitted by my subwoofer. (Is there a term for that? Tell me if you know, it’s bugging me because I think there is but can’t find it.) It was the audio equivalent of some idiot jumping out and giving me the fright of my life, although it did teach me some valuable things, including confirming that a strong pelvic floor is advantageous for a wider range of potential triggers than the obvious.

In the split second that it took to terrify me and for me to turn the volume knob to off, I also managed to exclaim a word that rhymes with mothertrucker, almost pee myself in terror, not do that, mentally congratulate myself for that achievement and laugh hysterically because it absolutely terrified me. (Had the original played instead, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had a face…)

Hilarious: sound so loud I experienced what we call in this house, a ‘total body fail’. In addition to the other stuff, I forgot I’d taken one of the arms off my chair and nearly fell off it sideways in my reflex attempt to get away from the loud thing. If Jim Carrey played the scene in a film, it’d be brilliant. As it was, the cat shot upstairs in disgust so my comedic antics were unappreciated and I took about half an hour to come down from the ceiling.

I share this as a cautionary tale that music, when applied improperly, can have unexpected consequences. So, you know: be careful out there.


In re-reading this post before publishing, it occurred to me that my original aim of obliterating the blue light on the sub-woofer might not have been the best idea, given how I then didn’t know if it was on or off and I kept having to alter its state when I got a mobile call or it all goes nuts. I reverted to the single layer of gaffer tape and realised that it was perfect.

It only took me approximately 6 months of glowering in its general direction to come to that conclusion, after years of doing nothing but sending hatred towards it, 6 months of black Sharpie, dark purple nail polish and black enamel paint and then, finally, the silver tape, which I’ve used in the house for about 12 years because it’s useful stuff.

This was why it took me 12.5 years of my 13 year residency of this house to move the tea towels out of the drawer that smacked into the oven and swap them with the drawer full of crap I rarely touched, which was unobstructed. It’s a good thing nobody knows I’m this oblivious to the obvious, sometimes…

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About SAM2.0

You'll want me on your team for the Zombie Apocalypse.
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