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.