I work with music. Always. Hell, whenever I’m home I’d have the CD player going with something. Can’t stand radio, it has to be something I want. As I draft this, I've got some Roxette playing in the background. The Tourism CD, I believe.
Gaming: We use something appropriate for the game (i.e. fantasy for Pathfinder, Star Wars for Star Wars, etc), kept at a decent volume for playing. In the past we’ve had ‘dire situation’ tapes made up for action scenes.
Wargaming: Same thing, usually more militaristic or modern soundtracks.
Painting: Depends on the mood. Right now I have 25 CDs in on random, chosen from across my collection.
Housework: Crank the volume and the adrenalin.
Pretty much everything I do, I’d do it to music. As I said, radio tends to have too much stuff I don’t care about, or they just talk inanely about something I don’t care about. I’ll pick a CD to match a mood, or to accompany what I’m reading. If it weren’t for the fact I’m up and out before my wife wakes up, I’d have the music on all morning too.
The same applies when I’m writing. I know some authors have playlists (Carrie Vaughn puts it in the front pages of each of her Kitty novels) that are a bit more specific. I made a playlist for Queen’s Legacy that, rather than the lyrics, works to evoke the mood I want to maintain for the main character. In this case, there’s a lot of Rage Against the Machine, KMFDM, Evanescence and Nine Inch Nails. My protagonist is angry, and she isn’t afraid to show it. The whole playlist isn’t like that, but there’s a good dose of ass-kicking music.
It also certainly helps that it’s a high-energy playlist that keeps the energy in my fingers as well. I’ve avoided using any kind of franchise soundtrack, as they tend to evoke more the worlds they were written for, as opposed to my own feeling. The exception would be the Battlestar Galactica soundtracks by Bear McCreary. They have just the right sense of angst.
It also helps to have a fair selection of music. I noticed last time I was at the music store I had each of a Saliva, Yanni and Sarah McLachlan album in my hands. I am not limited to a single genre, artist or style. And yes, I still buy CDs. For film/TV scores in particular, I like having the full disc worth. I could download, and eventually I’m sure I will, but for now I like having a collection of one artist’s songs on one item. That and maybe I’m just old fashioned enough to hold to the concept of an ‘album.’ I rip them onto my device for portability anyway.
Back to the topic at hand. I’ve found that having music playing while working makes the work easier, smoother, and creates a better environment. For me at least. I know others who need total silence, but I find that a bit weird. As they say, one’s mileage may vary.
Right now, it’s back to the mix of 25 CDs set on random while I do some squad organization and upkeep on my Eldar and Cygnar armies.