All Write Now II: More Great Writing Music

Three years ago I wrote about the kind of music I like to stick on when I’m writing. A good bit of music can be inspirational and atmospheric, helping you to sink into a creative state of mind. And if you’re writing in public, it can also help to block out the sounds of wailing infants and tradesmen ordering lattes.

I still listen to the music I lauded in my last blog post but, in the three years since I wrote my first list, I’ve added a few more albums to my arsenal. It’s good to have a few options for writing music as I find that as you get too familiar with something, you start engaging with it more and waiting for your favourite bits. And when you’re engaging too much with the music, you aren’t engaging enough with your writing.

So here’s a few more ideas to help channel your thoughts and block out the family argument at the next door table. Read More

How to Talk to Musicians at Open Mic

I stopped by my favourite pub a few weeks ago for an after-work pint or two.  Halfway through a glass of Downland’s I noticed all the new arrivals turning up with guitars.  Some customers had ukuleles and one had a banjo.  Halfway through my third pint I had my first go on a cajon.  I loved it.  Now I want a cajon*.

I’ve been to a few open mic nights since, chipping in on a borrowed cajon and sometimes on full drum kit.  It’s good fun; you get to meet like-minded people and see some proper talent.  But there are some rules to stick to if you fancy giving open mic a go.  Here’s a useful guide on…

How to Talk to Musicians at an Open Mic Night Read More

Anatomy of a Drum Kit: A Tour of My Drums

In between writing stories and blog posts I like to drum.  It’s a smashing hobby; cathartic as well as creative.  I started when I was sixteen, but I’ve improved since my first off-beat battering of Smells Like Teen Spirit.  I bought my own drum set, a Mapex Tornado Rock Fusion, back in 2013 after finishing university. But it’s evolved and spread a bit since then, and received a DIY tattoo on the bass drum.  Today I pulled it out of its usual corner and gave the whole thing a polish and spruce up.  Let me show you around the anatomy of a drum kit…

The Novice

I actually learned the drums on my dad’s Arbiter Flats Lite set.  It’s a great set for a beginner since it’s so much smaller (and quieter) than a full kit, yet still acoustic.  I’ve replicated the setup on my Tornado here.

My Mapex Tornado modelling the setup I learned on

This is called a ‘two-up, one-down’ setup.  This means there’s two toms racked above the bass drum, and one floor tom off to the side.  Toms, or tom-toms, are the bouncy-sounding drums; the ones that Phil Collins (or that gorilla from the Cadbury’s advert) use for the big fill in In The Air Tonight.  Some drummers use a few as two toms (Ghost’s ghoul drummer had just one!) but fancier drummers can have loads.  The bigger the drum, the deeper the sound. So drumming on them from left to right produces the descending roll that is featured in loads of songs.

Read More

Bands on the Run: Best Running Music

Anyone following me on Twitter will know I’m into my running. It’s my favourite way of exercising, and I like challenging myself to hit faster speeds and longer distances.  One of the main reasons I run, though, is for the opportunity to listen to a bit of music.  On a run, it’s just you, your thoughts and your iPod.  It’s a great chance to meditate over an album whilst getting a bit fitter.  Here are five favourite bands that make the best running music. Read More

The G Word(s): The Gothic Genre

Two confessions. One: I’m one of those people who like to pigeonhole everything. Always have been. There are boxes all over my house, each one with its own specific contents. I section my books into fiction (ordered alphabetically) and reference (subdivided by subject). My iTunes library is organised fastidiously, using all the sort fields that my friends ignore. The second confession: I’m not a goth. But then if I was I wouldn’t admit to it. Anyway, what does gothic mean?

Gothic is everywhere

The gothic genre flitted into my periphery in my teens and, upon realising that it didn’t necessarily involve Satanism, death metal or noms de plume like ‘RavenRose’, I took a bit of a shine to it. I trawled the Wikipedia page on gothic rock and stuck a load on my iPod, before reading up on gothic architecture and poking around cathedrals. I even had a go at reading Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto on the internet – I didn’t get very far. It seemed to me that to be a goth, you had to listen to gothic music. Hang around gothic buildings reading gothic literature. Writing homework assignments in gothic typeface. I read that there were different categories of goths too – romantic goths, cyber goths, Victorian goths and gothabillies, and you could take online quizzes to find out which you were. I figured I should listen to the music of each in order to cover my bases. Obviously, I had missed the point. Retrospectively, whoever wrote the quiz must have too, unless they had their tongue in deathly-white cheek.

Read More