It’s a habit I fall into time and time again: I sit down to write an essay but get caught up listening to the lyrics of a new album. Despite the meaning that words can add to a song, they can be distracting when one is studying or writing. For the assistance of my classmates, I wish to share three different styles of music that have helped me stay focused while working on homework.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I can hear the cries of frustration through the internet now. “I don’t even like rock music,” you shout at your phone. “Why would I listen to it while studying?” Before you throw your laptop into the fountain, hear me out. While post-rock utilizes many of the same instruments as traditional rock, it holds very little in common with the likes of Nirvana and ACDC.
Instead, post-rock bands aim to create sonic textures with their music, usually through long instrumental ballads. Along with that, post-rock albums are usually stitched together to be heard as a cohesive whole. As a result it is rarely jarring when one track ends and another begins. Some great post-rock artists to study to are Tycho, Explosions In The Sky, and Sigur Rós.
2. Movie Soundtracks
Last semester, I wrote a short story to the soundtrack for the movie “It Follows” on repeat. While the tone of the music didn’t dictate how the story turned out, I think that what I was listening to had a large impact on the vibe of my writing. We live in a film saturated culture. Almost everyone has a few movies that they can pick out as favorites. Because of this, almost everyone has movie soundtracks and scores they enjoy.
Great movie soundtracks convey the emotion of a film through music. As you listen through a score, you can hear the joy and sadness that characters go through. While gloomier tracks may not be ideal for studying, they do help paint a complete picture that gives a score emotional range. A few of my favorite soundtracks to listen through while studying are “The Social Network,” “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” and “Cloud Atlas.”
3. Instrumental Versions of Albums You Love
This category is fairly rare in the musical world. However, now and then an artist will release a version of their album without any lyrics. When listening to music, it is very easy to only pay attention to the vocalist’s performance. Lyricless versions of songs let us hear how much work and effort our favorite artists put into their instrumentation. However, instrumental versions of albums can be hard to find. Some of my favorite albums to listen to without lyrics while studying are The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Listener’s “Wooden Heart.”
Music is a great way to tune out the world around us. However, without careful selection, the music we choose can also become a distraction. With these suggestions, I hope that you are able to easily find music you love that will keep you focused and energized while studying.
Do you have a favorite album that you love to study to? Let us know down in the comments!