Sunday, January 08, 2006

Work soundtrack

I listen to a lot of music, especially when I'm working. Maybe it's the byproduct of growing up in a noisy household, but I find it easier to focus (and stay focused) if there's music on in the background. Since I've been working a lot lately (getting ready for classes, catching up from being sick, the *@#%! review packet), I've been thinking about how the music I listen to takes on the characteristics of the task at hand. And so, as another installment of Get To Know Jane, here's a sampling of what I listen to while I work.

Prospectus-writing: Does it come as any surprise that the predominant mood of my prospectus-writing music is "angsty"? Angsty music seems to invite introspection--and surprisingly, I'm finding that I need "music with words" as I write and revise the story of my academic life. Top pick: The Garden State soundtrack. Runner-up: Tori Amos.

Research: When I need to concentrate, or when I'm working on something that's really challenging, I need something funky yet mellow. Something that won't induce sleep but not something that's going to make me want to start dancing around the office, either. My favorite choices here have an ambient/techno flavor to them. Top pick: Groove Salad (Internet radio station). Runner-up: Enigma.

Programming: For me, programming is an energetic task, and so my music has to match. Having music with words is essential--it sounds strange, but I need the distraction of words so that my brain can continue to make the associations I need to do the logic of stringing together a program. Top pick: Supreme Beings of Leisure. Runner-up: REM.

Class prep: This is the one area that I don't really have one music preference. Typically, though, I'll tend to something more upbeat, but more often than not I'll just put on a mix of things. Top pick: Party shuffle on iTunes. Runner-up: Radio Paradise (Internet radio station).

Scholarly reading/writing: Getting through those dense journal and conference articles, and writing my own dense journal and conference articles, requires more soothing music sans words. Classical-ish music fits the bill perfectly. Top pick: George Winston. Runner-up: Classical piano.


musicplayer said...

keep rock n roll, ok

Anne Zelenka said...

This is great! I've been trying to expand my music listening horizons and now you've given me a list of stuff to check out.

I love the Garden State soundtrack. I listen to it when I'm feeling like I want to get the hell off the rock that is Maui.

I like to listen to music when I'm programming but I haven't decided yet whether it makes me more or less productive. Maybe I'll try some REM and see what happens.

caMoore said...

When I am writing poetry or a short story listening to music of struggle and pain are often very inspiring (usually Nirvana does the trick for me).
When I am writing non-fiction music distracts me.
It is very interesting the influences that shape our work.
Nice blog.
Chrisitne :)

Erin said...

When I am writing programs (usually very hacky ugly dumb text-munging stuff in perl) I like to listen to Soul Coughing. Lots of words but they're stream of consciousness (so not distracting) and great rhythms. Plus a sense of urgency that really helps.

I completely recommend without any hesitation their "best of", which has the magnificent title "Lust in Phaze."

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