Music for Coding

When I am writing code, or doing anything contemplative really, I find it helps to be listening to music. Not just any music, of course. It needs to be music that a) I like, b) won’t be distracting, and c) preferably helps me enter a meditative – indeed, almost trance-like – state of mind. It needs to be music that continuously moves forward and carries me with it easily so that it becomes a part of my environment that supports me and keeps me focused on what I’m doing. This is hard to describe, so the best thing to do is just to list examples of what I mean starting with what I’m listening to right now. I’ll add more entries as time goes by. Please feel free to share your own favorite music in the comments.

Philip GlassMusic in 12 Parts
This is a long piece from the 1970’s that is my favorite thing to put on while working on computers. Its slowly changing harmonies and rhythms help me to block out all of the external noises and stimuli that would otherwise keep me from being able to concentrate. Really, almost anything by Glass is good to listen to while working, but Music in 12 Parts is always my first choice. There are some fairly bad rips of it on Youtube, but this one seems not too bad and gives a feel for the music. It’s from Part 7.

Johann Sebastian BachBach Organ Works
As played by E. Power Biggs. What can I say about this music that hasn’t already been said? It is sublime. A perfect union of harmony and melody, point and counterpoint, in a glorious structure that fills the mind with clarity and lets one perceive the beauty of form and structure. This in an old recording, but it has been re-released many times.

Various artists – Euphoria series
I mostly enjoy classical music, that being about half of my music collection, but I also listen to classic rock and jazz, Celtic and other folk music and a smattering of electronic music. Dance music has never been a big part of my listening, though, so it was with great surprise and delight that I was introduced by a friend to the Euphoria collections. The first one I heard was Chilled Euphoria and it is still my favorite. The music ebbs and flows with a natural rhythm that synchs very well with my own feelings and mood most of them time (or at least the mood I would prefer to be in). Since then I’ve also acqured Euphoria – For the Mind, Body, and Soul, Euphoria – Deep and Chilled, and Deeper Euphoria. The first and second of those are much more upbeat and I listen to them when I am feeling more energetic. The last is much more down tempo and is nice for times when I am feeling more contemplative.

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