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Certain thoughts have a sound... 
21st-Jun-2007 02:04 pm
Like many people, I sometimes like to listen to music while I work. Particularly when I need to stay focused for a long period of time, or if I'm doing something kind of tedious.

Certain kinds of work, or certain projects, call for particular kinds of music. Some times this association becomes so strong that a mental association lingers for years afterwards.

Metallica's And Justice For All will forever, on some level, be the sound of high-school calculus. It has the elegance and cutting precision of a system of equations.

When I was writing my senior thesis on computational modelling of cyclic hydrocarbons, I could listen to nothing but Ravi Shankar and Fields of the Nephilim. Over and over and over. Did the twists and turns of ragas played on the sitar mimic the dance of decane rings twisting in myriad conformations? Possibly, but I'm pretty sure the Fields of the Nephilim was just because it was dark and cold during the winter that I wrote that thesis.

I still have that Ravi Shankar CD, but I haven't played it since. I can still sing the first few bars of that first raga, though.

The soundtrack to the labwork for my first (and probably last) published scientific paper was The Sisters of Mercy's Floodland. But the bulk of the writing was done while listening to Soundgarden and New Order. Particularly Soundgarden's "Pretty Noose", and New Order's "Regret".

The soundtrack to my current work project is still coalescing, but early signs are pointing to Evanescence's The Open Door and David Bowie's Hunky Dory. Which is just fine, though if David Bowie's "Changes" becomes inextricably linked in my head with datacenter administration, I'm going to be non-plussed.
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