Most writers I know like to have some sort of music playing while they write. At the moment, I’m listening to Stephen Watkins’ weekly choral music program, “For the God Who Sings,” from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The stately, complex refrain of these masterpieces inspires me. At other times (especially when I’m pressed to meet a deadline), I’ll tune in a smooth jazz radio station from England, Texas, or California. That upbeat, energetic soundtrack keeps me scurrying till I meet my goal.

A co-worker who lived in France for several years likes to listen to French-language popular music while he works. Perhaps it recreates a special time in his life, or it keeps him fluent in his second language, or maybe (to paraphrase the teenagers’ favorite critique of a new release on “American Bandstand”) he works best to French pop songs just because they “have a beat and he can write to it.”

Psychologists have long debated whether certain types of music cultivate the logical patterns of the brain. For example, it’s been said that when infants and toddlers hear Mozart mathematically sophisticated compositions over a long period of time, they develop minds of great rational skill and subtlety. While other experts challenge that conclusion, I think there’s some truth to the claim that music can help us think…and work…more creatively.

What’s your experience? Do you listen to certain kinds of music while you write? What effect does that have on your work?