The Best Music to Work To

When asked what kind of music I listen to, I, like 95% of people I know, reply “everything”. And it’s true. My playlists jump from Jay-Z to Lenka to Eminem to The Civil Wars to Debussy in a matter of song skips. However, like 95% of people I know, I do have one all time favourite genre of music that at the end of the day brings me most pleasure and I appreciate most out of all of them. It’s also the music I immediately turn on when editing or working or writing (and the one that’s playing right now as a matter of fact) – the one that allows me to focus most and that I’m convinced brings out my creativity most. The one that makes my photos feel cinematic. It’s movie scores.

Yep, I’m the girl that buys the Hunger Games score. Not the soundtrack with that song by Taylor Swift, I mean the score composed by James Newton Howard. I’m the girl who is genuinely upset that there are no plans to release the score for The Great Gatsby because it was freakin gorgeous and that one song on the soundtrack is not enough. I’m also the girl that annoys her friends by trying to guess the composer of soundtracks during films. Yes, Internet, I am a devotee.

In elementary school, we all had to present about ourselves. Our likes, our passions, interests. I did not go to elementary school with a very nice group of kids and I remember that when I told everyone I loved classical music, they all thought it was so funny. What they didn’t realize (and I either until later) is that there is so much beauty in classical music and, in turn, movie scores – which are essentially the classical music of our time – that listening to it enriches you. I am proud to have liked it since I was younger. I believe it deepens the soul and expresses emotions like no other type of music. I actually have daydreams about working with James Newton Howard (my all-time fave composer) on a movie before I die. I picture our conversations going something like: “Hey James, how’s music writing going? Oh you named one of the songs for my movie after me? And it will help you to finally win an Oscar? No problem bff! It’s what I’m here for.” You know it.

James Newton Howard

That’s him, my BFF James. (Photo not mine. One day I will have my own ;).)

That said, I wanted to share with you my go-to mixes for editing. I’m always interested in hearing what photographers listen to while editing. I know that fashion photographer Lindsay Adler listens to dubstep, which totally makes sense with the vibe of her photographs, and wedding photographer Jasmine Star has often talked about her love for the indie band Bon Iver. For what it’s worth, here are my top five movie score editing mixes from my favorite music website 8tracks:

#5 : The Death of Chivalry

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This mix was inspired by The Game of Thrones and it’s totally intense. I believe some of the music is from the show and some of it is from video games, and dang it’s good. It makes me want to start playing some of these games, just to hear the music.

#4 : Gorgeous Movie Soundtracks Take 4

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I just love all the music in this mix. From movies like An Education, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (yes) and Eat, Pray, Love (movie meh, but music yes).

#3 : Study With Accompaniment

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A Beautiful Mind, Harry Potter even the Transformers. All awesome scores. This is one of the first mixes I discovered and played a lot. I don’t love “epic scores” and this one has a few but they don’t bug me too much.

#2 : Read the Most, Write the Most

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This mix speaks to my heart. The Never Let Me Go score is so beautiful I watched the movie just because of hearing it on this mix, and it was just as haunting and heartbreaking as I visualized it. The Duchess is also an amazing score. (Fun fact: I went to the premiere of The Duchess in Toronto during the film festival and Keira Knightley walked right by me. Omg!) One of my highest played mixes.

#1 : Read more, Write more

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There is no doubt this is my all-time favorite one. The second I heard “Arrival of the Birds” by Cinematic Orchestra (not a movie score, but the song was used in an Acqua di Gioia commercial), my life changed. I know that sounds dramatic, but seriously, it’s the most beautiful thing ever. Listen to it. Now.

I don’t always strictly listen to soundtracks. Here are a few more playlists that I love and often listed to as well:

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There it is! Let me know in the comments what your go-to type of music is for working, editing or studying. I am curious and I know you all have one!

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  1. July 9, 2013 at 9:03 am — Reply

    This is awesome!! Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad I’m not the only one under 40 who likes classical music

    I spent most of the day yesterday listening to the mixes you listed here while I edited, it was great All the tracks were great and some were definitely more recognizable even for me, who is not a movie score aficionado. I really like Alexander Desplat’s work though, especially the score for the movie The Painted Veil. Also Alan Menken and his work for Disney.

    Sometimes I listen to these amazing instrumental tracks by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds, you can find them here:

    They are kind of melancholy and just really beautiful.

    Most of the time I will just put on any music when I edit but sometimes I’m more in the mood for classical/instrumental when I edit. Oddly enough when I was in high school, I would study while listening to the radio. But when I got to university, I couldn’t study at all with music on…not that silence helped with concentration all that much anyway.

    • July 10, 2013 at 11:35 am — Reply

      Janice, I’m so happy you liked them. The Painted Veil is BEAUTIFUL, just like the movie. I also love his Harry Potter stuff, The King’s Speech and even New Moon haha. That Icelandic composer is amazing! Thanks for sharing. And I agree, I think it gets harder to concentrate the older you get. I cannot listen to music with words if I’m writing, it just doesn’t happen. :)

  2. July 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    Glad you liked Olafur Arnalds music! I forgot to mention, when I heard The Arrival of the Birds, it gave me chills!

    Also, it’s amazing how powerful music can be. I’m fairly familiar with certain ones by now. Just now I was listening to a mix that had The Courtyard Apocalypse track from HP7 Part 2 and immediately I remembered that scene!

    The only downside for me is whenever I hear something I feel familiar with but can’t place the movie, I immediately put down what I’m doing to check out what track/movie it’s from 😀

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