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It's that time of year where the planet gets together to celebrate the shortest day and the promise of a returning spring.  Amazingly enough it appears that many religions - by sheer coincidence - have significant events at this time too!  The different faiths have their own holidays and dates but the big daddy at this time of year - the one that half the planet will be celebrating - is Christmas - the birth of Jesus.

I think Jesus is awesome.  I'm not a fan of the way some people use him to justify certain positions - but the idea of peace and love and just being generally cool to each other - when Jesus stands for that - I'm one of his biggest fans!  So I'm totally down with celebrating his birthday and if it just so happens to fall around the existing celebration of the Winter Solstice - well - how lucky is that!

Aside from the presents and the trees and the family dinners - the thing I love most about Christmas (and this goes for my mum too,) is the music.  That there's this whole type of music - Carols - that are sung at this time of year and no other is just fascinating - and glorious to me.  Think about it - there's no equivalent for other holidays or times of the year - at least not to this extent.  As a cathedral chorister I would eagerly look forward to the time when the Carol books appeared in rehearsal and everything started to feel a bit more special.

If you've been lucky enough to grow up singing carols at Christmas you know how amazingly good it feels to be with a bunch of other people all singing the same thing.  The fact that this music is generally happy and uplifting means that you can't help but look round and grin at everybody else as you belt out the chorus of Hark the Herald Angels Sing or Come All Ye Faithful or as you ascend the stunning descant of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

But what does this have to do with music to write to - well - remember that using music to write to is all about creating an environment where you can get lost and focus on getting into a flow state.  I think it's entirely appropriate to use Carols at this time of year - particularly if you grew up with them and have a positive association.  So I did a bit of hunting and found this rather stunning album of which the second disc is made of traditional carols interpreted with acoustic guitar.

I can't find any information on Robert Dixon but dude - whoever you are - this stuff is awesome.  I've chosen God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen but you could run the entire album if you wanted.  The music is gentle, the playing exquisite, the interpretations unique and interesting - I love the melancholy feel of this track!  As normal - I've had it on repeat while I write and it works brilliantly!

So - if you're looking to do a bit of writing over the season - take this out for spin - and Merry Christmas to you all!

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About the Curator: Andrew McCluskey

Andrew McCluskey - Musicto Curator

The first visual memory I have is that of the white upright piano in Singapore, Hell and the dark forces lived at the bottom, Heaven and the Angels at the top. They would play battles through my fingers and I was hooked.

Although I've always played, I haven't always been a musician.  Most of my twenties were spent working with people, buying and selling and learning how the world works.  It was in my thirties that I came to America and focused on music and began to develop music2work2.