- Scientific research has shown that listening to music increases productivity depending on the task at hand.
- Music tends to have a positive effect on divergent (spontaneous) creativity.
- Here are some inspiring music soundtracks that can help you get in the zone during the workday.
Some freelancers favour silence when they work whereas others find an upbeat accompaniment to be beneficial. For me, it all depends on the type of work I’m doing.
For instance, if I’m coming up with snappy straplines for marketing campaigns first thing on a Monday, I need total silence to concentrate. Yet if I’m writing a longer form text like an article, I’m much more productive doing it to the tune of a lyricless song – usually a movie soundtrack or a classical piece.
Scientific research shows that listening to music increases your productivity depending on the task at hand. A study by S M Ritter explores the effect of music on creative cognition in particular. The study set out to test the effect, if any, that music has on divergent (spontaneous) and convergent (problem solving) creativity.
The research revealed that “creativity was higher for participants who listened to ‘happy music’ (i.e. classical music high on arousal and positive mood) while performing the divergent creativity task, than for participants who performed the task in silence.” No effect was found for convergent creativity though.
Ritter’s findings definitely align with my own experiences of listening to music (or not) while working. When I’m trying to pinpoint the perfect word to complete a strapline I prefer to do so in silence, but I find that music helps the ‘flow’ of things when I’m writing at length.
Anyway, I digress. My main goal when I set out to write this post was to simply share with you the most effective soundtracks to my working day at the moment; the music that encourages divergent creative thinking, puts me in a good mood and keeps me going.
Suggested Reading: “Do Headphones Negatively Impact Coworking Communities?”
P.S. If you’ll be listening to music in the workplace, especially a shared workspace area, make sure you plug in your headphones first.
Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti
Being a bit too young when it was first aired back in the early nineties, I became obsessed with the series – and its soundtrack – just before the third season was released in 2017. Badalamenti’s Soundtrack from Twin Peaks received the award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Dreamlike, ethereal and at times surreal, this playlist is perfect for tasks that involve a bit of deep creative thinking. It’s also great for getting into ‘the zone’.
The Hours by Philip Glass
I was introduced to the spellbinding music of Philip Glass when I studied this movie at university. I find his soundtrack both moving and relaxing, making it ideal for times when I need to block out the world’s chatter and just get on with it.
‘Something She Has to Do’ and ‘Morning Passages’ are particular favourites of mine.
Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianelli
The music from this 2005 motion picture adaptation was performed by the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the English Chamber Orchestra. The composer, Marianelli, received a number of nominations for his score.
I tend to listen to this one when I need to wind down or relax, usually towards the end of a busy working day. Traditional-style folk songs on the soundtrack like ‘Can’t Slow Down’ are great ones for instilling a feeling of positivity.
Jackie Brown by James Newton Howard
This ridiculously catchy soundtrack to Tarantino’s 1997 crime thriller usually makes an appearance at the end of every month when I’m sorting out my invoices and updating various spreadsheets.
Its upbeat tunes include ‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobby Womack, ‘Street Life’ by Randy Crawford and ‘Tennessee Stud’ by Johnny Cash. It’s also a great one for getting into the mood for a night out after payday.
Taxi Driver by Bernard Herman
The jazz-fueled soundtrack that Herman wrote shortly before his death is so effortlessly cool it just never gets old. Smooth tones combine with dissonant chords to create an immersive experience. It’s dramatic enough to keep me motivated throughout a lengthy job without being distracting.
The only track I tend to skip when I’m working is ‘Diary of a Taxi Driver’. It features a monologue from the movie and I find it a bit too much.