Darren Beale Web developer, retailer & photographer

Music For Concentration When Working


One of the unexpected benefits of this 30 day challenge has been getting to read other people’s work.

Whether that has been to to proof-read, give ideas on direction or simply to provide moral support, there have been numerous daily posts to go through.

One of the recurring subjects has been workflows. The things we do during our day to be better, faster, healthier or more productive people.

I can’t get enough of workflow posts.

It has to be stuff from real people. Not click-bait, top 10 style posts, but actual ‘What works’ insights from people like me.

So, I gleaned my newest workflow nugget yesterday when reading fellow 30DWCer, Andrew McCombe‘s, What I Listen To When Working.

Not everything that I listen to is music. I listen to ambient noise a lot. The sound of rain, wind, bird song or a coffee shop.

Listening to ambient noises, I didn’t know that was a thing.

Makes sense, though.

I did a little bit of digging and apparently there is evidence that “music with a constant, easy beat and light melodies” or even some foreign language dialogue in a language that you don’t understand can aid concentration.

However, another study showed that “participants performed best while in a quiet environment or while listening to a voice repeating the number three over and over — what the researchers called a steady-state environment

The consensus in the 30DWC slack channel was that we can’t listen to the spoken word or any songs with lyrics when trying to work; it’s far too distracting.

Drum & Bass was my tool of choice for years but over time I migrated to more ambient/chill-out electronica.

I tried focus@will in the past which plays music that is most compatible with concentration or study. It was OK but I can’t recall why I let my subscription lapse, probably because I already pay for Spotify which has a huge choice on offer.

However, these days I keep coming back to just three sources for my own “steady state environment”.

Philip Glass’ Solo Piano – It’s sublime. Glass is arguably the king of minimalism and this is one of his more accessible pieces; I could listen to it for hours.

Soil Festivities by Vangelis – Minimal music with the sounds of a storm layered over it.

Steve Reich’s Drumming – It’s quite hardcore and definitely an acquired taste.

I tried listening to some sea and rain today on A Soft Murmur and didn’t get on with it, but will give it more of a chance in the future. I think it could work particularly well burbling quietly in the background when trying to meditate.

Words: 437

Time taken: 2hrs, really didn’t flow this one so it took ages to write. I’m not particularly happy with it.

This post is one of 30 I wrote daily during April 2016 as part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge.


By bealers
Darren Beale Web developer, retailer & photographer