When it comes to studying, the best background noise is silence. But in cases when my roommates or anything else in my surroundings is making noise, I opt for classical music. My big thing with this is that the music I listen to while studying cannot have lyrics; if the song has lyrics then I will be focusing on them, not whatever I am trying to do. The type of music largely depends on my mood. If I am studying something boring or if I am just tired, I’ll go for something more upbeat and energetic, though my general preference is definitely slower, calmer music, especially just piano, but that’s a no-go if I am studying a dry topic. Youtube has some great selections, some of which can be over three hours long (and some of them don’t even have ads). Next time you’re trying to study with music on, try something without lyrics: it really does help you focus.
Try Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor. A simple search on Youtube should do it. This is a 26-minute long piece with four movements. When I write my papers, I don’t listen to a playlist or switch songs—that’s too distracting. Instead, I keep one song on a loop and have it on for hours, which is perfect for this piece. As you would expect with Mozart, each movement is ingenious in how the main musical phrases are developed over time, and having the piece on a loop makes sure you can appreciate all the fine details. It’s pure satisfaction that makes you go in a trance. This is one of the few sublime works of art that you must not miss out on.
The best study music is the “How to Train Your Dragon” soundtrack. I’m sure you’ll be skeptical; I was too at first. I only ever listened to it because I played it in band, but I was blown away by how exceptionally good this score was. I’ve always been a fan of low brass, and much of this score revolves around higher instruments, but the melodies are so beautiful that I find myself appreciating instruments like trumpets and bagpipes for the first time in my life. Of course, the French horn is nicely featured throughout the album. And don’t get me wrong, the low brass moments are stellar too. A lot of this soundtrack feels like a Viking battle cry, as the main characters in the movie are Vikings and dragons. However, the tracks—especially in tempo—helps me drive to work harder and faster, as if conquering my finance problem set is my own version of a deadly battle. My favorite tracks are the powerful “This is Berk” and enchanting “Romantic Flight.” For when you want to be the main character in your study session, the “How to Train Your Dragon” soundtrack is the way to go.
The soundtrack to the Adult Swim show “Joe Pera Talks With You” is the best music for midterms. Not only does it help me keep focus with its soft repetitive piano, but the headspace the melancholy music puts me into has genuinely improved my work, as well as allowed me to control my frustration and stress that occurs all too often when I have a large workload. The music engulfs you with its comforting positivity and makes you want to create something beautiful and believe in yourself. It’s not boring, the songs do not have jarring stops and starts that take you out of your state of focus and when you are done with your work, the soundtrack to “Joe Pera Talks With You” leaves you feeling quite serene. Plus, if you like the music, there is a wonderful show with 22 eleven-minute long episodes waiting to uplift you.
Playboi Carti’s self-titled album, “Playboi Carti,” is what I’ve had on repeat while studying recently. While there are bangers in the tracklist, most of the album can be classified as chill or even ambient hip hop which is great for hip hop fans looking to get some work done. The songs that exemplify this quality the most are “Location,” “Let It Go” and “Yah Mean.” The simple, laid-back lyrics won’t get in the way of your work, while the creative instrumentals stimulate the brain. The cohesive relationship between the beat and the vocals is what makes the album so appealing to me. If this album resonates with you and you enjoy Carti’s sound, listening to his 2018 album “Die Lit” would be the next step.
After a long, hard day that requires yet another tiring study session, I automatically turn to the “Miss Hammurabi” OST. Not only is “Miss Hammurabi” a brilliant Korean drama about the legal system, but this soundtrack is full of hopeful tracks which all feel like someone’s cheering for you from the sidelines or sitting with you as a studying companion. A personal favorite is “Someday, Somehow”: with its steady drums and guitar, as well as comforting lyrics like “it’s alright … it will all be fine someday,” it’s impossible to not at least feel a little encouraged into opening up your notebook again. There are also some lovely instrumental pieces, all of them ranging between the hectic, cheerful clickety-clack of “The Typewriter” to keep you company during your 2 a.m. essay-writing session or the gentle piano and guitar of “Book Store” to sit with you in your reflections about why the heck you started studying what you’re studying in the first place. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter if you listen to the lyrical or instrumental songs of this soundtrack—either way, I guarantee you’ll feel both assured and confident in taking on your next academic challenge.