what music to put in background when working/incrs. concentration/studyg
April 25, 2013 12:52 PM   Subscribe

what music to put in background when working / to increase concentration / while studying I get bored a lot when working and get also distracted easily by outside noises. I'm looking for non-distracting music to put in the background. I'm familiar with iMusic. And there's some classical. Any further suggestions?
posted by earthwalker7 to Education (28 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Music for Programming:
A series of mixes intended for listening while programming to aid concentration and increase productivity (also compatible with other activities).
posted by unixrat at 12:55 PM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sigur Ros is my go-to for background work music. I can't understand anything they're saying so I don't get caught up in the lyrics.
posted by meggan at 12:55 PM on April 25, 2013

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2013

I like this playlist from Songza. There are also more playlists designed for working that you can find through the music concierge.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2013

A couple previous questions that might contain good suggestions, with fairly similar prerequisites:

Music for Coding
Music for Snoozing
posted by LionIndex at 1:00 PM on April 25, 2013

I play pink noise in preference to white noise.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2013

Daft Punk's Homework album. Seriously. I got a lot of homework done while listening to that CD. Something about not having to focus on the lyrics and the continuing, yet slightly changing beats kept my brain focused on the task at hand.
posted by jillithd at 1:06 PM on April 25, 2013

I tag any instrumentals in my iTunes, and that's what I listen to when I need something that won't distract me. I use the grouping field to add tags to my songs. Then, I create a smart playlist: grouping contains: instrumental.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:17 PM on April 25, 2013

Not a musical recommendation, but sometimes music is too distracting and white noise doesn't get me into the zone enough, so I listen to the Enterprise-D's engine idling all day.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:28 PM on April 25, 2013

The soundtrack from Amelie.
posted by acm at 1:31 PM on April 25, 2013

I'm sure everyone is different but my big "concentration" albums are:

- Philip Glass - "1000 Airplanes On The Roof"
- Frente! - "Shape"
- Wendy Carlos - "A Clockwork Orange" (soundtrack -- not her score version)

I've got a bunch for general hacking, but I've found that with these, especially the Frente! album (for some reason) I can just focus and get stuff done.

Occasionally I put on Philippe Herreweghe's version of Beethoven's 9th symphony, which is apparently closer to the original orchestration than modern versions. I'm not a classical snob, I just heard about this version, was curious about it, and really enjoyed it. :)
posted by BleuLlama at 1:40 PM on April 25, 2013

I used to use movie soundtracks. My go-tos were the Gladiator, The Fountain, and Lord of the Rings soundtracks.

I also liked listening to Explosions in the Sky while working, but their music has big climaxes and soft-loud dynamics, and I don't know if that's conducive to work for you.
posted by yasaman at 2:00 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use the Relax Melodies Premium app; for concentration, I use a blend of the Beta waves + brown noise + one of the mid-tempo music effects.
posted by scody at 2:13 PM on April 25, 2013

Load up a Pandora channel with the artists in this thread. Avoid music with words; this has been shown experimentally to interfere with other tasks.
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 2:21 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I tend to listen to albums that I have listened to TO DEATH and can predict every note of when programming or doing other tasks that require concentration. New music only gets listened to in the car or some other place where my brain is idle. It goes out of rotation in the car when I've memorized every note, at which point it becomes programming music.
posted by SpecialK at 2:23 PM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Focus at Will. Choice of classical, ambient, chill, etc.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:31 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find long tracks are helpful, because the transitions between songs break my train of thought. For me that means if I want something energetic I go for either gonzo over-the-top prog rock epics (e.g. Close To The Edge, Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh), or live Dead/Phish sets; and if I want something a little more late-night-ish I go for GY!BE or Earth. YMMV.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:53 PM on April 25, 2013

Though like SpecialK says, at the point where I know an album by heart, it stops mattering what the musical characteristics are — it'll make good coding/writing music just because of the sheer familiarity of it.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:55 PM on April 25, 2013

In college I listened to Chopin nonstop while studying. I still love it. It's passionate and interesting, but oddly not distracting. It seemed to focus me.

Today, when working, I listen to a bunch of CDs I have of Spanish classical guitar. Perfect to aid concentration. Mellow but focused.
posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on April 25, 2013

Sigur Ros or Jonsi (too lazy to look up the accents, sorry). Bach. Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Peter Gabriel's Passion. Radiohead's Kid A (there's lyrics but they are largely indistinguishable, at least by me). Instrumental jazz like Dave Brubeck. Chill-out/trance music, usually Ministry of Sound compilations because I don't know enough about any specific artists. Irish/Scottish non-vocal music. Basically, things that are low on vocals and tend to have a lot of repetition or very structured sound and which usually has a certain amount of energy to it as well.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:45 PM on April 25, 2013

I have a playlist called "Attitude for Gains", after the cryptic boss warning messages in the video game Radiant Silvergun. It consists of the soundtracks to that, R-Type Delta, and The Cat That Got The Milk. And some Homestuck music. It's all pretty propulsive music to TAKE ACTION to, without vocals.

I can't say this will work for everyone, but sometimes it works pretty well for me.
posted by egypturnash at 9:17 PM on April 25, 2013

Seconding Music for Programming.
It can be uneven, but new podcasts show up every once in a while.
Seconding Groove Salad.

Featured on my "Pomodoro" playlist:
Bruce Kaphan "Slider".
Anything from Jeff Pearce.
Jon Hopkins "Opalescent".
"Darshan" from Robert Fripp & David Sylvian.
"Evening Star" from Fripp & Eno.
posted by turbogeezer at 10:49 PM on April 25, 2013

I listen to dark/post-apocalyptic ambient. Much more interesting than white noise, but non-distracting. Puts me instantly in work mode. Good example: the soundtrack to the first two Fallout games by Mark Morgan, and there's much more where that came from: Tzolk'in, Vortex, Technology of Silence, Gustaf Hildebrand, Kammarheit, Treha Sektori, ...

Oh, also, also! Tim Hecker!
posted by Skyanth at 3:00 AM on April 26, 2013

More. If the aforementioned tunes are too dark for you, I also have Fluxion, Loscil and Kangding Ray on my 'Music for Work' playlist. I guess the latter is rather glitchy, but not attention-grabbingly so.
posted by Skyanth at 3:06 AM on April 26, 2013

Get a Buddha Machine. This might be stretching the definition of the term "music." But there's something about the repetition that helps put me into that zone of concentration.
posted by mcmile at 7:50 AM on April 26, 2013

How about the Evergreen Channel
posted by cartoonella at 8:27 AM on April 26, 2013

Brian Eno, "Music for Airports". Just about anything ambient by Eno, really.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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