Music for Work – By Chris Fox

Solemnity Rules

For Arbeitsmusik I have found that solemnity beats everything. Cheerful, perky, chirpy “happy” music is out. Period. Vocalists are out. Period. If Beyonce is your thing then knock yourself out in your car (I won’t be riding with you) but don’t try to listen to that while you work. Aggressive rhythms are out; techno, drum and bass, even progressive rock, not for work.


Dark Ambient

Dark ambient is just what it sounds like; meant to hear in the background, not intended to be listened to with full attention. Pioneered by Brian Eno more than anyone else. It is either droning and brooding or very lightly rhythmic. not perky or painfully simple like most New Age. And often a piece will go on for a very long time, sometimes longer than can fit on a CD.

Bandcamp is Your Friend, with tons of free music online. A lot of their music can be purchased digitally for a dollar per disk, or in somc cases for a dollar for hundreds and hundreds of hours. Wings of an Angel (Felix Kaplan) sells his entire output of over 400 excellent ambient pieces for one dollar. This is a very broad genre that a lot of people don’t know about.

Renaissance Liturgical Music

You don’t have to be religious. I certainly am not. But the solemnity and the yearning, the longing, in this ancient music, the oldest we have, seems extremely conducive to work. You can find Gregorian Chant playlists on YouTube, seek out what works for you.

I recommend The Tallis Scholars but I’m prejudiced; I’ve met them and Peter Phillips is an extraordinarily decent man, particularly considering he and his ensemble the the very best there is in the entire world. When the Sistine Chapel was restored it was the Tallis Scholars who were invited by the Vatican to perform. Phillips doesn’t have a self-righteous bone in his body.

Other Classical Music

You won’t be able to work well to music that you love. Beethoven or Bartók will pull my attention away from work completely but Baroque music helps me concentrate. The Mozart C minor Mass or his Requiem seem to work pretty well. Again, religious music. Vivaldi concerti, of which there are hundreds, are good for concentration.

Okay there are some ideas and even some links. Happy coding and happy listening. For happy read “solemn,” please, we’re not on a TV commercial here.

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