Do you listen to music while you’re working? I’d love to be able to, but sadly I can’t – my brain just doesn’t work that way. When I’m reading or writing – even just a simple email – the music distracts me and I just can’t focus. I know that lots of people do manage to enjoy music as they work, and even find that it boosts their productivity and/or creativity. Elisa Bonora, an Italian translator, is one of them. She’s very kindly written a guest post on the subject. Here it is.
Language, music, and me, by Elisa Bonora
Some things have always been with you, as simple as that. I was born with a curiosity for words and their hues of meaning, in my native language and in foreign ones. And I was born with a deep love of music, a language in itself.
Music, for me, is a universal but also very personal language. It resonates deeply with me, putting me in the right frame of mind to tune into my creativity and enhancing my productivity, or my mood.
I’ve been studying music since I was a child and it’s part of my everyday life and routine. When it comes to my job as a linguist, it helps me unplug from the world and focus on words. The way I see it, translating is an art: it’s very much about finding the right feel between two worlds and languages, and music can be my key to connect with them, almost by magic.
Which music for which work?
There are no set rules as to which music I listen to for each different type or stage of work; sometimes it just depends on the mood I’m in. However, I tend to choose something quiet and calming when I’m working long hours on a big project and I need to be focused and relaxed, with no distractions. Upbeat music gives me extra energy and a boost when I feel I need it – it might unlock the right idea for creative challenges. It also works well with less demanding tasks, or for the first draft.
In any case, it has to be something that really speaks to me: I need to feel a connection with what I’m listening to.
Of course silence is an option too, for example when I’m working on a very complex task with many issues requiring attention. For re-reading and final polishing, when I need to make sure that the text reads flawlessly, I usually prefer peaceful tunes or no music at all.
A personal playlist
Here is a very short playlist of some of my favourite music for work. It is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a general idea of my tastes. A couple of notes (a play on words! Oops, another one! ): although I am a huge Beatles fan, I find I can’t listen to them while translating because they inevitably trigger a “sing along” reaction in me, and however good at multitasking I may be, that would be a bit too much – I don’t think any of my clients would want to have the lyrics of Ticket to Ride incorporated in their text. I also enjoy classical music, but I prefer to listen to it when I’m in a meditative mood and doing absolutely nothing else. And if you’re wondering what I’m listening to while writing this post… just the rain on my office window
- Shadow of the Moon (Blackmore’s Night)
- Delicate Sound of Thunder (Pink Floyd)
- The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (Howard Shore)
- The Hobbit soundtrack (Howard Shore)
- The Mystery of Time (Avantasia)
- Windows (Amanda Somerville)
- The Very Best of The Eagles (Eagles)
- Winery Dogs (Winery Dogs)
Elisa Bonora, owner of Millefolia Translations, is a translator and editor working from English and Spanish into Italian.
Elisa has been involved with classical and modern music all her life. With a strong background in natural sciences, wildlife and the environment, she is committed to a green lifestyle and believes that “communication makes all the difference in the world”.
She also believes in providing “Italian translation, editing, and language consulting with a smile”.
By Marian Dougan