Writing music
December 11, 2018 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Writers of Ask, suggest me some non-English language, or instrumental, background music for writing paid blog posts.

I like lively music to keep my energy up and my critical brain a little distracted as I write (sometimes boring) content for a content farm.

I often listen to film scores, classical, that kind of thing, but I'm looking to branch out. I've tried some dance music, also Gotan Project, and the like.

Any genre is fine. I'd particularly love works from non-US artists or traditions.

I would prefer longer pieces of music, or entire albums , or streaming stations, to individual songs, but if you have individual pieces you want to rec, hit me. I can always make a playlist. Artist suggestions are fine, but I'd prefer specific works.

No English language lyrics, please. Too distracting.
posted by Archipelago to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
When I'm cataloging I often listen to https://musicforprogramming.net
posted by gyusan at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I find Spotify quite helpful for this, as they have a number of playlists in other languages both curated by Spotify and by other users. I used Cafe Montrealais, combined with an online noise generator that generated actual restaurant sounds to give my brain the impression I was at a Starbucks in Quebec instead of my desk in Toronto.

Eventually, my brain started picking apart the French lyrics, because like most Canadians, I do know a little French, so I switched to a user-made playlist called Israeli Pop because I don't know any Hebrew. It was a random choice of foreign language on my part, but you can put almost any language into Spotify's search bar and get playlists to match. I find African and Middle-Eastern ones are slightly less likely to incorporate some English lyrics than the Asian and Latin American ones, but it's almost impossible to pull a single playlist that will never have any songs with any English in them.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2018

I have a Pandora channel for exactly precisely this. I'm listening to it right now! Here's a share link: https://www.pandora.com/station/play/144815018638638969

In addition to the soundtracks and classical (I have mainly minimalists on my station) I have just as many Qawwali and Indian ragas on the station. It's a nice mix.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2018

Have you tried post rock?

Mogwai [YouTube] [Spotify] - Occasional vocal samples, but no lyrics per se. Mogwai has tons of albums. If you listed to one sixteen minute song today, make it Mogwai - Mogwai Fear Satan.

This Will Destroy You [YouTube] [Spotify] - Their newer albums (New Others Parts 1 and 2) are more ambient, and the older albums are more dynamic with heavy guitars. Some of their songs were used in the Moneyball soundtrack.

Caspian [YouTube] [Spotify] - Tertia, the YouTube link, just the bees knees. Classic post rock.

Tides from Nebula [YouTube] [Spotify] - Aura, the YouTube link, was my go-to studying album. I especially love Apricot.

Mono [YouTube] [Spotify] - Japanese post rock. I especially enjoy COM(?).

Explosions in the Sky [YouTube] [Spotify] - Much more mellow than the other choices. Scored the Friday Night Lights soundtrack, among others.

God is an Astronaut [YouTube] [Spotify] - Solid post rock.
posted by sacrifix at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm a technical writer, is that close enough? When I need to concentrate I generally go with one of the following:

- Music For Programming (as mentioned by gyusan)
- A Strangely Isolated Place (ambient, they are on Spotify, iTunes (podcast), Soundcloud, and have an iOS app)
- low light mixes (ambient, they also have a podcast)
- focus@will (this is a subscription service but I find it worth the money)
- Drone Zone on SomaFM (listener-supported, good ambient playlists)

On preview, every artist listed by sacrifix is amazing. Out of that list I've seen Mogwai, Mono, and Explosions in the Sky live and listen to their live recordings all the time when I need to "tune out and get work done." You can't go wrong with any of the artists they've listed.
posted by ralan at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like Dawn of Midi for this. Also, some gamelan perhaps?
posted by Gotanda at 1:37 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Two of my favourite pieces of affect-less ambient that I always return to on long writing assignments:

William Basinski - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjnAE5go9dI
DJ Lostboi - https://soundcloud.com/s_m_i_le/smile-radio-dj-lostboi
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 1:56 PM on December 11, 2018

Maybe a bunch of synthwave if you want to write the next Terminator. You could do worse than searching for "ambient space orchestral" on youtube.
posted by smcameron at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2018

A little while back a MeFi shared this Pandora playlist with me, and I write to it All. The. Time. https://www.pandora.com/station/play/3854858440983904755
posted by nkknkk at 2:39 PM on December 11, 2018

I'm a book editor, and I frequently edit to Sigur Ros and the accompanying Pandora channel which is filled with perfect music for this.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:09 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Editor here and i’ve been alternating between two newish records at work lately, Cave “Allways” and Eiko Ishibashi “The Dreams My Bones Dream.” If you like something super hypnotic I really love Tarawangsawelas “Wanci.”
posted by otio at 6:13 PM on December 11, 2018

I use gamelan for this, as well as jam band music like Dr. Didg and Oresund Space Collective.

Kaki King's solo guitar albums are great. For that matter, spanish guitar usually works for me.

Malphino has a nice vibe.

Never underestimate the classics, by which I mean Exotica. Gene Rains, Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny. Love them vibes!

If you like brass band there's Drums and Tuba, Youngblood Brass Band, and more like that.

These are all uptempo rather than hypnotic. I have tons more. Check out Lyrichord records for their large selection of Chinese and Japanese classical music.
posted by irisclara at 6:30 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am in Grading Hell right now, and have been listening to the kind of music you require. My two go-to genres have been:

- Stoner/sludge/drone metal, like Sleep and Earth and SUNN0))). But sometimes I get too wrapped up in this music, which I adore, and therefore can't focus on the grading, so my main thing lately has been ...

- Instrumental devotional Hindustani music. I know *zero* about this genre, other than that it's got no words, it's drone-y, and I find it soothing. There's a Spotify-made playlist that I like called, simply, Hindustani Instrumental, and it's really been hitting the spot for me lately.

Also, seconding Dawn of Midi. Really helps me focus. Plus: excellent!
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2018

Ambient electronic music & dub:
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Vol 1, Selected Ambient Works Vol 2
Sacred System: Book of Entrance, Book of Exit
African Head Charge: Songs of Praise, Drastic Season
Trentemoller: The Last Resort, Into the Great Wide Yonder
Biosphere: Insomnia, Cirque, Substrata, Dropsonde, Shenzhou, Autour De La Lune
King Tubby: Roots of Dub, Dub Fever
The Orb: Orbus Terrarum, Orblivion
Aggrovators: Rasta Dub 76, Legend, King Tubby Meets The Aggrovators At Dub Station, Yabby You Meets The Aggrovators At King Tubby's Studio

Instrumental Hip Hop, Downtempo, Turntablism:
B Durazzo: Beats Volume One
Blockhead (occasional vocal samples): The Music Scene, Music by Cavelight, Funeral Balloons, Downtown Science, Interludes After Midnight
Tosca: Suzuki, The Lounge Dub, Opera
Baby Mammoth: Seven Up
9 Lazy 9: Electric Lazyland, Sweet Jones
The Dining Rooms: Numero Deux
DJ Krush: Ki Oku, Jaku
Samurai Champloo soundtracks: Impression, Masta, Departure, Playlist
Kruder & Dorfmeister: G Stone Book, DJ Kicks
Also Four80East, although their stuff is scarce on YT.
posted by heatvision at 4:22 AM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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