A bit of background

With the iTunes Festival ongoing (and irritating in their only putting up some of the replays and not all), Mr C and I have been having more discussions about music than normal. It’s always good fun when we talk music because we have slightly different music eras, very different music tastes, and what turns out to be different requirements when it comes to background noise.

As people that do creative things (writing, coding, designing, etc), having something on in the background can make all the difference to getting things done. Complete and utter silence is okay for a few minutes of concentration but then it starts to become a distraction in itself. I know that I can watch TV programme after TV programme when I am doing things that require my attention but not full concentration, whereas Mr C finds the TV to be pretty distracting.

When it comes to full on concentration, it turns out that he can have pretty much any kind of easy going music. That doesn’t necessarily mean easy-listening as in Lionel Richie, family-friendly, stuff, but anything that blends into the background. He even recently found that the iTunes Festival replay of deadmau5 (what a name) made good noise to concentrate too, whereas I mostly thought it was noise!

For me, if I’m concentrating, I can’t have music on. If there are lyrics, I’m going to be singing along – usually getting the words wrong. Even if there isn’t a vocalist, the melodies tend to make me listen rather than blend into the background. When I was doing some serious writing, I tried downloading an album of classical music, and that was okay for a while but wore off after a while. In the end, I stick to putting RainyMood on and get through what I’m writing as best I can.

There have been lots of studies that suggest tuning out the distractions with something can be conducive to concentration to a degree, but it’s really interesting to find what works for different people. Is it to do with the kind of task or the kind of person?

2 thoughts on “A bit of background

  1. This is a weird one because so many times I put music on thinking ‘music always helps’ and I end up sitting listening to the music or jumping around the playlist, skipping songs, jumping across to other albums. Maybe shuffle mode is the worst thing you can do.
    I used to think peppy rock music helped attack it and maybe it does, though in recent times it has seemed too noisy and aggressive and I preferred something more laid back which seemed to allow the brain cells to work (Morcheeba or Massive Attack or Zero 7 those sorts of things). So I guess that makes me similar to Mr C.
    Silence helps get the thing ready in my mind but then when it is time to crack on it is too easy to be distracted by reading the internet and Twitter.

    I don’t know if it is the type of person, I suspect it is, maybe it is also what you became used to when you first learned to concentrate on a task properly, say with school homework.

  2. I have found I need some noise to keep me stimulated. Mostly podcasts do the trick here. I’ve even started running to them!

    If there’s no background noise I get distracted and can’t concentrate.

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