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Studio music

Post #729 • February 13, 2006, 7:45 AM • 58 Comments

For years I used to insist on a quiet studio, until I realized that I was getting old television theme songs in my head while I was working. Not all music works in the studio, but I haven't dertimined a pattern of what does. At any rate, my Indian electronica kick has played itself out, and I've been listening to the same two Steven Reich CDs enough to get my fill of them.

It's time for me to figure out what's going on with the Western music tradition, which I know pathetically little about. Specifically I want to beef up my jazz and classical collections. I already know who seminal artists are, for the most part - I need suggestions of specific albums of their work. Fire away.




February 13, 2006, 8:29 AM

Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegi Hall is absolutly awesome

J Dilla - Donuts Just got this, it's the only Hip-Hop CD I own. A radical end by the Detroit Hip Hop artist who died Friday.



February 13, 2006, 8:52 AM

Ornette Coleman _ the science fiction sessions
John Cage 3 minutes 14 seconds (or is it 2 min 57 seconds) (if you prefer quiet...)
Brahms _ Tragic Overture
Leos Janacek_Piano Sonatas(or anything, really)
anything by Shostakovich
John Coletrane_A love supreme
MIngus_the black saint and the sinner lady

and on a different note:(all instrumental)
Tortoise (anything by them....).
explosions on the sky
godspeed you black emperor


the lsit can go



February 13, 2006, 9:01 AM

Good grief, Franklin. There is so much. It is hard to know where to begin, especially when recommending specific performances of classical work. It gets very specific; for example, you can't just get Mozart piano sonatas, which are supreme music, because most pianists interpret them badly. You have to get Gieseking, and some people won't listen to him because he was associated with the Nazis. Sometimes, as with Casals or Callas, you buy the artist rather than the particular music. It gets complicated!

Then there is jazz, country, blues, the whole range of soul from the 50s until the late 70s, some of it very obscure. Who has even heard of the Mad Lads any more? Who listens to Jimmie Rodgers? Or Jimme Noone? I could send you a full page of "Jimmies" alone!

I will have to think about it and make notes. You have a mess of listening to do.



February 13, 2006, 9:18 AM

The soundtrack to Tous les Matins du Monde is almost cliche-perfect classical studio music (early viol--check here for more about the viol and its history: ). Jordi Savall is the performer (violist, I suppose); he's simply great, and has an extensive discography. The movie is not bad either; it's in the vein of the story of under-recognized artist/genius, kind of like a musical Camille Claudel.



February 13, 2006, 9:24 AM

Oh, and as for jazz--start with Money Jungle: Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach.

Ahem. I happen to know where you can get a copy rather inexpensively --cough, cough--if you'd like to give the albums I mentioned a shot . . .


Mimi Botscheller

February 13, 2006, 9:35 AM

I listen to a variety of music in the studio and burn cd's to play during some studio classes. I usually listen to more contemporary music than the selections already offered. Pat Methany has many great albums, My favorites, Secret Story, Letter From Home, We Live Here (based on the sounds of Miami) and Imaginary Day, fairly current.
Given that my husband and son are in the "biz" we have a wide range of music to listen to. Any preferences? I tend to listen to new music with positive lyrics as not to subminally register negativity in my subconscious while I paint. If you like reggae Matisyahu is interesting and the new Coldplay is good.



February 13, 2006, 9:45 AM

Try Morgana King, the complete Reprise set, two CDs. I Have Loved Me a Man is especially great.



February 13, 2006, 10:06 AM

Roberto Perera from Miami (Passions,Illusions & Fantasies) is beautiful jazz performed on a harp. Also different is A Twist of Marley, various jazz artists with their take on Bob.



February 13, 2006, 10:33 AM

Keep it coming. I'd like this to become a long post. Remember, specific albums, for exactly the reasons OP describes. Inline links to Amazon like George did if you can do them.

I'd like someone to point me at a Kieth Jarett CD.

I second Kathleen's recommendation of Tous les Matins du Monde (the movie). Gerard Depardieu learning the nature of art. I loved it.



February 13, 2006, 10:43 AM

Keith Jarrett The Koln Concert



February 13, 2006, 10:56 AM

Solo Concerts: Bremen & Lausanne which I had once but gave to a friend and intend to get again.
Jarrette is a fucking genius.



February 13, 2006, 10:58 AM

Pixies and Eminems 'Encore'



February 13, 2006, 11:02 AM

I forgot:
Malcolm McLaren, Art of Noise, Kraftwerk, Kino ( Viktor Tsoy)



February 13, 2006, 11:03 AM

Good, good. Let's try to keep in on jazz and classical. Okay, we can do soul too. Philly had a funk show on the NPR affiliate while I was there - that was awesome, but I can only remember Chaka Khan and KC. More funk would be great.



February 13, 2006, 11:30 AM

Franklin, my husband (who has an interest in jazz, for those who don't know him) does not particularly like Jarrett's Koln Concert, and says that there was a recent interview with Jarrett on Terry Gross' Fraiche Air that had other wonderful examples of Jarrett's work which he himself woud like to further explore.

I also thought that if you haven't listened much to Thelonius Monk, you may like to try Underground.

Are you interested in contemporary western classical music? [Part, Gorecki, Nyman, etc? Ives, Satie?]



February 13, 2006, 11:41 AM

I also suggest you check some of these things out somehow before you buy them. There are a few things recommended here which I find unlistenable. You may disagree, but it is best to know. Your ear is the final judge.



February 13, 2006, 11:43 AM

Are you interested in contemporary western classical music?




February 13, 2006, 12:59 PM

I notice a lack of jazz vocalists. I can't stress enough the beauty, swing, zing, and delight of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 1 and Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 2.

Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Best of Dinah Washington

Instrumental: just about anything by guitarist Bill Frisell: East/West [LIVE]; Have a Little Faith; Gone, Just Like a Train; Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones; Ghost Town. I could go on.

And I haven't even gotten to any Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane...

Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus [ORIGINAL RECORDING REISSUED]



February 13, 2006, 1:01 PM

I think the Koln concert is ace. I also have the La Scala solo, which is great but denser and less accessible.

If you want to get into classical/jazz, the library is the place to go.

Also, there is a body of work that sits somewhere between silence and music that might be worth exploring. I'm thinking of things like Oval: Dok, Aphex Twin: SAWII, and the Conet Project.



February 13, 2006, 1:25 PM

You can't go wrong letting Bach's Suites for Cello 1-6 play continuously- so rich and complex, different moods, very physical.

J. S. Bach: Suites for Cello, 1, 2 & 3; Pablo Casals and J. S. Bach: Suites for Cello, 4, 5 & 6; Pablo Casals

Mstislav Rostropovich: Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6

Patricia McCarthy's Six Cello Suites performed on viola.

or even Yo-Yo Ma's Bach: Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites



February 13, 2006, 1:52 PM

Ok, the Goldberg Variations, as performed by Glenn Gould. (He also recorded it again at the end of his life, but the first one is better.)

For jazz, I go for the Ornette Coleman box; you can pull and all-nighter and listen to the whole thing.



February 13, 2006, 3:39 PM

what music you listen to while you work is gonna depend entirely on your taste and personality.
but since you ask, my preference is some pretty mellow rock in the background while i create. lately I can't stop playing anything by indie rock artists Belle and Sebastian. I haven't heard anything bad from them.
if you want a specific album try their debut "Tigermilk" and the followup "If You're Feeling Sinister" is also amazing.


Jerome du Bois

February 13, 2006, 5:42 PM


John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

Also, since nobody's mentioned it yet, Kind of Blue. Talk about seminal.



February 13, 2006, 5:47 PM

I haven;t the time not the enrgy to make the hugfe list i would have to make, but here's an interesting thought, somewhere you can get educated along with your music.

You can get WKCR fm (NY - Columbia University) on RealPlayer on the internet. Phil Schaap periodically will do 24 hour "everything ever recorded by" birthday programs, with extremely intelligent informative commentary, on Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, john Coltrane and others. There should be one coming up on Bix Beiderbecke in early March. Check it out. I think you need to get through the classics of the 20s 30s and 40s before you get too stretched out on recent stuff.



February 13, 2006, 7:24 PM

As far as (traditional) Classical music goes, go buy the following:
"The Record Shelf Guide to the Classical Repertoire" by
Jim Svejeda. He is the Greenberg of Classical music.

Jazz? By the following: "The Penguin Guide to JAZZ on CD" by Cook and Morton. Indespensible!

Contemporary Classical or Modern Composition:
1. David Behrman "My Dear Siegfried" (XI)
2. Harrison Birtwistle "The Triumph of Time..." (NMC)
3. Alvin Curran "Maritime Rites" (New World)
4. Morton Feldman
5. James Tenny "Pika-Don" (Hat Hut)
6. Giacinto Scelsi (Suotono Rotondo) (Wergo)

Contemporary Jazz / Improv:
1. John Tilbury & Eddie Prevost "Discrete Moments" (Matchless)
2. Alex Von Schlippenbach
3. Tetuzi Akiyama: "Route 13..." (Headz)
4. John Fahey "The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick" (Water)
5. Cooper-Moore & Assif Tsahar "Tell Untold" (Hopscotch)
6. Bill Carrothers "Civil War Diaries" (Illusion)

That's a Start !



February 13, 2006, 8:55 PM

beWare: John Fahey, a blast from the past, wow thanks for the heads up on him. I saw him play live several times years ago but I'd forgotton all about him. great muscian.



February 13, 2006, 8:58 PM

Check this list out:

some favorite labels:
2. Potlatch
3. Grob
4. For4Ears
5. Matchless
6. Emanem
7. Incus
8. Tzadik
9. Okkadisk
10. Wobbly Rail



February 14, 2006, 12:28 AM


For classical, especially when painting, I suggest:

Berlioz, " Symphonie Fantasia"
Mozart, " Requiem"
Stravinsky, "The Rite of Spring"
Beethoven's #6 pastoral or #9 choral

If you like electronica:

DJ Tiesto and BT
Ascii Disko
Timo Mass
The Chemical Brothers



February 14, 2006, 12:33 AM

Gigi, can you suggest specific recordings?



February 14, 2006, 10:31 AM

Franklin, here's two lists I've compiled. There is some duplication though.
List #1 - jazz, r&b, classical
List #2 - jazz, r&b, classical
(If you're interested in a copy of the Toru Takemitsu, I have an unopened, new copy you can have for $5.)


how about

February 14, 2006, 11:45 AM

Wes Montgomery Roots of Acid Jazz
Lionel Hampton Mostly Blues
Martha Argerich on Phillips-Rachmaninoff 3 & Tchaikovsky 1
Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic-Shostakovich Symphony No.5 & Symphony No.9


how about

February 14, 2006, 12:04 PM

Also on a more contemporary tip...
Boards of Canada - Twoism
Air - Moon Safari
And to throw it back just a little bit on the rock side...
A Jimi Hendrix anthology and...
A Velvet Underground anthology.



February 14, 2006, 3:56 PM

All United States people(at least) with good taste should own the Velvet Underground in their collection.



February 14, 2006, 4:03 PM

These suggestions are interesting, very strong on the heavy stuff in classical and the far-out in jazz - very little, if any, chamber music, and almost no classic jazz (depending on what you mean by classic, I suppose).

A lot of it is self-consciously "avant" and basically unlistenable. I wouldn't buy any of it until you have heard samples, Franklin.


John Kaay

February 14, 2006, 4:09 PM

If you're looking for something to play while working in your studio that will keep the internal soundtrack off, I recommend Brian Eno's ambient music.
Start with "Music for Airports".



February 14, 2006, 4:45 PM

I say buy all of it and listen to all of it. Then keep buying and keep listening.



February 14, 2006, 6:43 PM

Paco de Lucia: Cositas Buenas. The best contemporary flamenco guitarist.

Yo-Yo Ma: Soul of Tango



February 14, 2006, 7:49 PM

I agree with Luisa:
Paco de Lucia: Entre Dos Aguas. is a favorite of mine along with Siroco


Marc Country

February 15, 2006, 1:30 AM

Paco is great indeed... I've got his "Antologia" two disc set, which I recommend (I saw him in concert at the Winspear a few years back... amazing show). Also, he and John mcLaughlin and Al di Meola's concert album "Friday Night in San Francisco" is pretty fun.
(The band "Air", mentioned above, is good too, but it's electronic, so I'll stick to Franklin's proposed genres)

Good on JdB for "Kind of Blue"... I think it's difficult to go wrong with any early-ish Miles... Relaxin' with Miles, Miles Ahead, Nefertiti, Sorcerer... (although I recall being a bit shocked when, I think, Franklin mentioned some time ago that "Sketches of Spain" gave him some trouble).

Ahmad Jamal's "The Awakening" is a beauty too (even if the name sounds Muslim... KIDDING!!!)
Mingus at Antibes, Ernest Ranglin "Below the Baseline", St. Germain Cafe "The Finest Electro-jazz compilation is truly fine. Sex Mob's "Din of Iniquity" is quite unique, and Oscar Peterson's "The sound of the Trio" does us Canadian's proud. But you REALLY have to get Wes Montgomery... "The Incredible Jazz Guuitar of...", "Full House", "Fingerpickin'"...
... and on a more feminie note...
Aretha Franklin's "The Delta Meets Detroit" is a nice taste of her "Blues" side, plus some Nina Simone and Erykah Badu (pick one).

Gotta go... enjoy your VD, everyone.



February 16, 2006, 4:44 PM

well, not sure if you are still looking at this thread, but here are a few jazz classics that i don't think were mentioned:

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue, and, In A Silent Way

Pharoah Sanders Quartet: Thembi, and, Welcome to Love

Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand): Banyana, and, Live at Montreux

Roland Kirk: Volunteered Slavery

McCoy Tyner: Extensions

Sonny Rollins: Sonny Side Up (with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Stitt)

Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night With You

oh, that's enough to get you started.



February 16, 2006, 5:21 PM

Franklin, I am not ocnvinced that everyone here actaully listens to the music they recommend.

Once again, let your ear be your guide.



February 16, 2006, 5:57 PM

OP what makes you think that?



February 16, 2006, 11:08 PM

I have heard some of it, George, and find it variously unlistenable, self-consiously "far out", frantic, pretentious, and so forth, and I know the temptation to be "cool" and "hip" among art people. Hardly anyone has mentioned the classic standards in either jazz or classical music and I am sure just about everyone is aware of them. Please don't ask me to point to anyone's choices; I don't want to get into pissing contests.



February 17, 2006, 12:11 AM

I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to Franklin, but I listen to Coltrane's Ascension pretty regularly. And all the way through. But for music-to-do-X-by, I still recommend the quasi-music I mentioned before.

That reminds me, a great book to read about music is "oceans of sound" by david toop. It's nominally about ambient music, but i recall it really changed how I thought about music, sound, and their relation to life. I'm due for a re-read.


Marc Country

February 17, 2006, 3:40 AM

Oldpro, if you "don't want to get into pissing contests", why do you keep whipping your dick out?
And since when have you been shy of engaging in pissing contest here, anyway?

Come on... you've made several vague criticisms about some of the music recommended being variously "unlistenable", "self conciously 'avant'", "far-out", "pretentious", etc, etc... Vague, because you refuse to clearly point to what it is you're really talking about. You might be right, but it sure is hard to tell.
If it were someone else writing like that, you'd tell them to be specific, (which has been the case numerous times on past posts, when you've rightly suggested to arrogant drive-byers to either put up or shut up) so I think it's fair to ask the same of you.
At the very least, you should pony up a few of your faves, so the rest of us can decide whether we think you REALLY listen to them, or are just trying to appear "hip" and "cool". ;)

I know I'm kinda taking the piss outta ya here, but seriously, you've made me curious... and I'm sure you won't offend anybody (and if you did, it's not like it'd be the first time).

Franklin, I've got a couple to add...
a two disc "Chopin: Favorite Piano Works" by Vladimir Ashkenazy that I enjoy quite a bit, and
Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Not sure what genre to put it under, but it's definitely a classic.



February 17, 2006, 7:12 AM

You are right Marc. I have been breaking my own rules here, and if someone else had done this I would certainly be on their case. My irritation at someof the suggestions overcame my clear sense that there was no way I could even begin to do justice to the amazing range of great music recorded since recording started over 100 years ago, even when limited, at Franklin's request, to classical and jazz.

The best I can do is suggest big chunks of things. We have meetings all AM starting at 8:30 and if I can at least do that later this afternoon I will do my best.



February 17, 2006, 10:01 AM

OP, come on, no one hear is looking for, or necessarily wants, a long list. Sure there is more great music out there than anyone of us will probably ever be able to listen to but that's what this is all about. Paring it down to something manageable.

FWIW, When I'm painting I listen to Miles, Paco, Jarrett, Brubeck, Monk and Satie, sometimes with the last JDilla CD to give it an edge. I think most of us know the kind of sound we need to set the mind-emotion state. I expect my choices will be different than the other readers but it doesn't mean anything special. Just different or the same whatever.

In particular, what would be helpful to know are the one or two best examples in some category. What are those? look on your CD player what are you really listening to right now? Donavan?



February 17, 2006, 10:51 AM

I know, George. I have an unfortunate mental habit when faced with a question like this to take a deep breath and set out to compile the Anthology of the World's Best Music when all is being asked is: what are some goodies?

"what are you listening to now?", or - by extension - what have you listened to recently or what do you really own, c'mon, be honest now etc is the right question to ask. Interesting because just before I opened the blog I put on a Slim Gaillard CD (Slim & Sam) which I have not heard for ages. Silly Bebop from the 40s, you know, Cement Mixer Putty Putty, Mr. Five by Five, that kind of thing but excellent music.

So i will just go look at my CDs here in my office and list a few. Makes sense.



February 17, 2006, 11:26 AM

Because I think the old standards and classics have been neglected I will make a very short general list. Most of the Jazz does not need reference to specific albums because they were issued in 78 RPM singles.

Everything recorded by (there are numerous collections):
Louis Armnstrong
Bix Beiderbecke
Jelly Roll Morton
Duke Ellington (stay close to the 20s and early 30s)

Anything featuring:
Sidney Bechet
Johnny Dodds
Jimmy Noone
Lester Young
Coleman Hawkins
Earl Hines

I particularly like the original Gerry Mulligan quartet with Chet Baker.

Everything written by (particularly chamber music)
Mozart particularly the piano music (Walter Gieseking), the piano concertos and divertimentos.
Beethoven (late quartets an absolute must)
Wagner (start with shorter work; the "Siegfried Idyll" is a sweet intro)
Shostakovitch (the quartets are the best)

Anything played by Pablo Casals or conducted by Furtwangler

This is torture - I am leaving so much out, and we are not even touching Bluegrass, C&W, Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Bebop, novelty, and so much else!

This is like asking "what art to look at". I keep a computer file of "artist images for students to look at" and there are already over 400 names and thousands of pictures and I know all the artist in some detail and really like 90% of the work filed (I keep a few "horrible examples of what not to do). There is just too much. This is one reason to be critical. If you are uncritical is simply means you are missing the best. And I mean "best".



February 17, 2006, 6:03 PM

Recent gems: arve henriksen : "sakuteiki "
B J Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa "Vikinga Brennivin"
Clive Bell & Sylvis Hallett : "The Geographers"
Polwechsel 2
Peter Cusack & Max Eastley : "Day For Night"



February 18, 2006, 9:04 AM

hey OP, which old timey country would you list? I'm looking for good stuff around the Lefty Frizzel/Hank Williams era. Any suggestions?



February 18, 2006, 12:00 PM

Craig, once again frustrating because there is so much. You have to start with Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, who precede Hank Williams, and also try the basic bluegrass people like Earl Monroe, Flatt & Scrugges, the Louvain brothers, Johnny and Jack and others. Earlier people to also listen to: Vernon Dalhart, John Carson, Ernest Stoneman, Charlie Poole,

In the 50s and later there is Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce (another "honky-tonker" like Lefty Frizell, Stonewall Jackson and Conway Twitty are others), Wilf carter, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Jimmy Dickens, Eddy Arnold. These represent a range of types.

Don't forget the ladies: June Carter, Kitty Wells, the wonderful Patsy Cline, Skeeter Davis and more recently Loretta Lynn.

I'm sureIi am leaving out a lot, but that's a start.



February 18, 2006, 12:34 PM

thanks. fantastic.



February 18, 2006, 12:49 PM

Chet Atkins, Merle travis, I am going to be thinking of others all day, I'm sure.


Marc Country

February 18, 2006, 10:13 PM

Cheers, OP.

I've also got a soft spot for the Vince Guaraldi Trio... probably due to growing up with Charlie Brown TV Specials (whenever Schroder plays his toy piano, that's Vince). "Cast Your Fate To The Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus" is a lovely album which I own, but there are surely more... then there's Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, etc... Like OP writes, there's so much good stuff out there, the best we can do if fill the holes we think the other commenters have overlooked.

If you haven't seen it already, Franklin, you should check out the Ken Burns "Jazz" documentary,and basically jot down every name mentioned in it... which reminds me, I've got 'hit' discs under the "Ken Burns: Jazz" heading by Thelonius Monk, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock... but I'm sure there are original albums that other jazz-lovers would insist upon... like Bruce McCulloch says, "Greatest hits albums are for housewives, and little girls".



February 18, 2006, 10:41 PM

Sounds like there is now enough fodder for an artblog podcast. Seriously. The self-reloading margin page can wait until after there's a soundtrack.



February 18, 2006, 10:57 PM

Or maybe an studio music store.



February 19, 2006, 9:39 AM

For quiet reflection and soothing of the spirit -
Spirit of the Tao Te Ching. Richard Warner.



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