A bit of background

Published September 17, 2012

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?

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