Off the Record: Bach, Moby and Flogging Molly

It’s likely that you’re reading this for the exact reason I sat down and wrote it: procrastination. In “celebration” of midterm season, I’ll devote this week’s article to how music can benefit your late night studying and marathon paper writing. While I do believe in the sanctity of silence, in some cases, music has its advantages.

To start, it might make you smarter. In 1993, the “Mozart Effect” was discovered. I remember back when the news of the study was released-mothers of nerds everywhere rejoiced. A study conducted at U.C. Irvine found that listening to a Mozart piano sonata directly before the Stanford-Binet IQ test increased results for most participants. Similar studies have been performed on lab rats, with increased skill and time in maze experiments after listening to classical music. So if you feel like somewhat of a rat this time of year – library, class, midterm, library, bed, library, class, library, Slices, bed – don’t worry, the right music might bump you from a B to a B+. Furthermore, research shows that listening to music in general improves your mental capacity and noggin transmissions, because it forces you to multi-task. It also increases the interactions between the right and left – which pretty much means listening to music while doing work, will make all of us logical creative geniuses (or at least not a complete dud).

Secondly, listening to music can force and allow you to be anti-social. Not removing your headphones when seeing someone you kind of know definitely sends a signal – “I am totally invested in my work, and although I may smile and acknowledge you, I don’t want you to come over and talk to me about how drunk you were last night.” Hey, you don’t even have to have music flowing through your head-phones, they send the same message to passers-by.

Thirdly, music can increase productivity. I’m partial to techno-dance beats when I need to bang out a fifteen pager. The beat has a metronome-like effect on my productivity. Try it sometime. It might work just as well for you. It serves as my non-psychostimulating Adderall in essence. Drowning out most of the distractions around me (including the typing of my own fingers) and providing the right amount of motivation, increases the chance that I’ll get done in time to catch last call at Nichols.

The most important part of studying with music is catering it to your needs. Decisions between major vs. minor key, amount of lyrics, pace and rhythm, etc. should all play in to your choices. A safe bet for most is classical. I cannot endorse The Vitamin String Quartet enough as the ultimate study/writing tool. They have instrumental tributes to a wide assortment of artists (to name a few: The Fray, Linkin Park, Natasha Bedingfield, U2, Led Zepplin and Snow Patrol). Great songs, without any of the distracting lyrics are pretty awesome in my book for doing work. The tribute to Coldplay is my favorite (buy the whole album, it’s worth it).

For writing papers, I go with Moby, Kaskade, Radiohead, Daft Punk, RJD2 and even a dabble of Flogging Molly. For studying, I mostly stick to the classical genre (some of my favorites: “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven, “Clair de Lune” by Debussy, “Andante Cantabile” by Mozart, “Cello Suite 1” by Bach, “Legends of the Fall” theme by James Horner. If you’re unwilling to spend your 99 cents on music purely for library time, tune in to the classical genre radio stations on iTunes or Pandora. Classical music and little techno and Irish Rock are my choices for doing work. But you’ll have to do a little experimentation to find what works best. Now stop procrastinating and get back to work.

Listen to:

1. “Sunrise” by Yeasayer2. “Destroyer” by David Gray3. “Say It To Me Now” by Glen Hasard4. “The Night Sky” by Keane5. “Paradise” by Ana Serrano van der Laan6. “Love In This Club” by Usher & Young Jeezy7. “Killa” by Cherish (feat. Young Joc)8. “What Else Is There?” By Royksopp9. “The Best Revenge” (autoKratz RighteousRetribution Mix) by Fischerspooner10. “Burn for You” (The Cop 4 Radio Mix) by Kreo11. “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend 12. “Make You Well” by Bernard Fanning 13. “Fever Fever” by Melody Club

Sarah’s playlist can also be found in an iMix at: