Music while you work

I have found myself, headphones on (AKG702 into an audioquest dragonfly cobalt stuck into my desktop Mac) at my desk rather a lot recently as I started a Masters Degree that involves many hours at the computer.

Sometimes I don’t use music but, particularly when writing I like music playing and tend towards ambient, piano, drone - anything at the quieter, less busy end of the spectrum.

Favourites at the moment are things like “Mixing Colours” by Roger and Brian Eno, Music for Nine Postcards by Hiroshi Yoshimura, Eight Fragments of an Illusion by Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk and Silencia by Hammock. I can’t really work if the music takes too much of my attention.

What do others prefer? Do you work in silence or does music help your process?

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I can’t work and listen to music, it just takes my mind and therefore listening to music is mostly isolated to the evenings.

However, if I have to do a lot of work which uses 10% of my mind, I switch on Mozart or other music from the pre-classical period. This blocks distracting noises (children) but does not grab my mind.

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Impossible to work if good music is playing. Never in the “background”, music becomes the main object of my attention. Work stops!

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Maybe that’s why I choose things in the “ambient” genre? Brian Eno said his ambient music was designed to “…accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

I wonder if it depends what you are doing too. If I have to read articles analytically I can’t do it with music but when writing, even in an academic style, it seems to help my flow. Perhaps because this is a creative process. Bit of Right brain, Left brain shenanigans?

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Following a brain injury I needed to cancel background noise at work. With some noise cancelling headphones my go to album was Aphex Twin Selected Ambient works vol 2. Vol 1 has to much going on in comparison.

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I’m software developer and can simply not work as focused or as fast if I don’t have music going.

This is the very reason I am right at this moment trying out an Atom Headphone Edition in my office :smiley:

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When I was in my twenties and a software geek, I switched on 3 different setups playing music and the vacuum cleaner. This cancelled out everything.

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Hmm twenties you say… Wel I’m… uhrm… gonna go away now silently… :stuck_out_tongue:

After me please, it quite a while ago!

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Same here!

I think it may work similarly to white noise increasing the signal to noise ratio in recordings; music creates a steady amount of background ‘noise’, which makes it easier to focus on a task without being distracted by very specific sources of sound (people talking outside, things happening in the background etc). :slight_smile:

Some of my favorite ambient work albums are:

Ishq - Orchid
Alpha Wave Movement- The edge of infinity
Craig Padilla - Vostok
Matt Coldrick - Music* for a busy head
Ulrich Schnauss - Far away trains passing by
Brian Eno - Ambient 1: music for airports
Loscil - First Narrows
Mathias Grassow - Himavat
Shuttle358 - Optimal.lp
John Serrie - The stargazer’s journey

iRadio: the soma.fm stations, especially Groove Salad.

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Yeah that makes sense. I am able to just enjoy the tunes while normal life noises makes me think “What is that now” while utter silence just feels oppressive.

Ooh I am going to try these out. Mine are:

Anything by Carbon Based Lifeforms
Anything by Conjure One
The studio albums of Above & Beyond
Albums by OTT Sonic
Lots of ambient trance like Marsh, Ilan Bluestone, etc. Most things linked to Anjuna seems to work for me.
And then just the random stuff. Was even working with Heilung blaring the other day.

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Indeed!

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The right music can really improve my focus. I’m partial to electronic dance music, typically with no vocals. “Beats to think to” was a go to playlist on Spotify. I say “was” as I have enough music saved in my collections on Spotify and Tidal to not need one already curated. I find vocals too distracting unless it’s Tibetan monks chanting. Rain sounds also very good if I want to drown out everything.

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I can’t work (writing, proof reading or working with InDesign) in silence, weirdly enough.

So I either have talk radio (Radio 4, LBC, TalkSport, Times Radio) on, or else either The Grateful Dead, or something avant garde (what The Termagant calls “drumkit falling down the stairs music”). Occasionally something like Reich, Glass or Riley, or maybe some systems music.

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Simply love music so much I have to actively listen. Couldn’t possibly have it on during working hours.

I work alone, outside and listen to music pretty much all of the time.
Some days it’s feels like a classical day,some days heavy rock especially if building a wall
At other times stuff chosen from the WAYLTAW thread saving anything interesting for a serious listen later.

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The only time I don’t listen to music is if I am watching TV or sleeping…otherwise if in the car, out walking, doing jobs around the house then music is on…the type of / familiarity of music is influenced by what I am doing….

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I also find this very good to work to. It’s just the sounds of Lego – bricks being sorted, things being built, etc. Apparently it’s getting millions of streams on Tidal and Grotify…

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I am with you if the writing is only for fairly trivial copy, but I find it too distracting if the content is more important, e.g. for legal, financial or highly technical subject matter.

For general proof-reading, I tend to play ambient, gentle jazz (no hard bop) or classical music in the background. If the content is more demanding, I sometimes need complete quiet to avoid missing my own or other people’s mistakes.

Checking and correcting layouts in InDesign or for the web can be extremely boring, so I often play old favourites whose lyrics are so familiar that I am not distracted by them.

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Exactly my ‘problem’. Particularly Baroque counterpoint: simultaneously listening to the overall pattern and each of the counterpointed themes leaves little room for anything else (like work) to intrude.

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