I find myself easily distracted. Concentration isn’t something that comes easily to me unless I’m completely focused on something.
In my days as a programmer, I could work away for hours on something without stopping. But if I was interrupted, it would take me ages to get back into it. The same is true for studying.
I know some people study with the TV or radio on. I’d seriously struggle with that. Most of the time, I work or study without any sound at all. Sometimes though, especially when I’m not alone in the house or if it’s noisy outside, I will try to cancel out the sound with some music. For this purpose, I tend to pick music that has no vocals. Music that is perhaps relaxing, that can be appreciated without needing to listen to it as such.
In order of personal preference, here are my ‘go to’ study music choices;
Jean Michel Jarre – Waiting for Cousteau
This is usually the first track I opt for. The album, of the same name, contains 4 tracks. None contain vocals, but the first 3 are a bit more ‘upbeat’. Track 4 is 46 minutes long and very relaxing. It’s the absolute perfect choice for relaxation or focusing the mind.
If you’ve heard of Jean Michel Jarre before, you’ll no doubt associate him with tracks such as Oxygene or Rendez-Vous, for which he is most well-known. Waiting for Cousteau is a complete departure from that type of music. Lacking any obvious ‘hooks’ that Jarre is best known for, this ambient track instils a sense of calm and space.
It’s probably one of the most non-invasive, dreamy tracks you could listen to.
First released in 1990(!) it’s a track that got me through GCSEs too!
Mike Oldfield – The Songs of Distant Earth
If you’re already a Jean Michel Jarre fan, chances are you’re also a fan of Mike Oldfield. Despite being very different styles of music, the fan base has a surprising overlap. Oldfield, undoubtedly best known for ‘Tubular Bells’, has such a varied range of music that you’d be hard-pressed to define his genre entirely.
His albums range from progressive and new age, through to rock and pop. The Songs of Distant Earth, however, is a different genre altogether. Very different to everything else, perhaps with the exception of Tres Lunas, which is broadly similar.
As the title suggests, it follows a ‘space’ theme – indeed the very first track features the voice of Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders reading from the book of Genesis while orbiting the moon on December 24th, 1968. Those are the only real ‘vocals’ on this album, though there are occasional voices or ‘words’ occasionally. I don’t find them to be distracting though, as they’re primarily incidental rather than the focus.
Tycho – The Science of Patterns
Tycho is an artist you may not have heard of. I first became aware of him as a graphic designer, under the name ISO50 around the year 2000. His website at the time, as many did back then, had background music. I’d visit his website every day purely to listen to the music, which I later learnt was his own. Fast forward a couple of years, and under the name Tycho, he began releasing music.
Despite a respectable career as a designer, he’s hit new heights as a musician – which is now his primary career. Still relatively unknown to the wider world, his music is well worth checking out. For distraction-free listening, however, his earlier stuff is more suitable. The ‘Science of Patterns’ is beyond a doubt my favourite, which sadly is tricky to find for some reason. The follow-up, Past is Prologue, is equally suitable.
His later, and current works, while still retaining the same overall ‘feel’ have tended to become more vocal making them less suitable for study time listening.
I’m always looking for new music along similar lines to these, but for the last few years, these have remained my first choice.