When I was doing still developing film and printing in the darkroom, I usually had the stereo going in the darkroom while I was in there. There’s nothing more boring than processing film, and so the music would relieve the boredom somewhat.
When printing, though, the music served a different purpose. I rarely make straight prints, and one of the things I found helped getting the dodging and burning sequences right was playing music while I printed. Some music is good for printing, and there’s other music I like but didn’t play when printing. Some prints I worked out while playing some particular album or song, and now that song is linked with that print. In some cases my printing notes actually specify which music to play, to help get the dodge and burn sequence timed right. For example, the burning and dodging sequence for this photo is pretty complicated, and on my printing notes is a line that indicates that the easy way to get it right is to make the print by starting Rob Ickes recording of “Watermelon Man” on his album Slide City.
It probably means something that the print can only be made while listening to a recording of a Herbie Hancock jazz standard being played on dobro. I just wish I knew what that meaning is.
These days, though, it seems like I get more done by opening the windows and listening to the birds. It’s hard to know how much this is a result of moving to a quieter, more secluded place and how much is due to the change from printing in the darkroom (where timing and physical performance are issues) to printing digitally.