By David Wicks
Recently, I was searching the GO! boards for an interesting article topic. There was some talk of the FUCS show, but I was looking for discussion. A thread that caught my attention however, was the thread regarding music to work to. I guess this is a pretty good question to examine, since why work to music at all? I know that I often get distracted by music when I’m studying, which is what I’m usually going for. I guess you really should be trying to find the perfect balance of interesting and forgettable so that you stay focused but don’t fall asleep. Of course, some assignments are more interesting than others, so I guess there should be a sliding scale of music or something…I’ll give it a shot for what could work for me.
Problem Sets: Something with a steady, plodding beat, like Kraftwerk or Fujiya & Miyagi. I think I would need songs that kept moving forward so I wouldn’t get sidetracked or unfocused on writing out redox-reactions the long way even though it doesn’t matter which way you do it on the exam.
One-page responses: Instrumental hip hop, i.e. J Dilla’s Donuts. Again, I’m looking for albums that aren’t very dynamic but keep a steady energy throughout the whole length. I don’t want to get bored, so it’s better that I use albums with many short tracks. I’d recommend Onra or Madlib’s Beat Konducta Series, since they often fit in 25-30 tracks in 50-60 minutes. Plus, 50-60 minutes is all the time it should take to get a one page response done anyway.
Essay: This is hard. In some respects, you would want more of the same as above, but I might not even listen to music for much of the process. I do most of my more satisfying writing in the middle of the night or with a serious and immediate deadline approaching, so bothering with music is the least of my concerns. Editing a paper is something different though. Maybe an album like Entroducing…by DJ Shadow. It’s instrumental, but instead of the small vignettes, the albums full of longer songs that don’t get boring. Yesterday’s New Quintet is good for that too, albeit a bit jazzier.
Studying for tests: Studying often needs two very different things. There is the studying for the class that you enjoy, where I usually lay down with some calm jazz album or other downtempo chillout stuff. Then there is the studying that you don’t want to do, where I use Amon Tobin. Breaks and interesting stuff in spades. Sure, I get distracted, but I’m not waking up on the floor of my room at 5:30 in the morning with the lights on and surrounded by books anymore either.
Anyway, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what would work for you, but here are some ideas. It doesn’t hurt to try something new out, right?