Posted by: Ken Brown | July 19, 2009

Study Music

I’m curious whether my fellow bibliobloggers tend to listen to music while doing research, and if so, what type. I’m generally too distracted to read or write while listening to music with lyrics, but I often listen to soundtracks or classical guitar music (though some days I can’t even concentrate with that). But when I am typing in edits I prefer something upbeat, with or without lyrics (I usually edit on paper, then type the changes in–not very environmentally friendly, I know, but I work much better that way).

So what about you? Do you need complete silence to concentrate, or do you try and drown out your surroundings with hard rock? Does classical music soothe your mind or put you to sleep?



  1. Loud as possible all the time. Classical, rap, country, rock, whatever. As long as it over 100 decibels in my ear.

  2. LOL, now I’m picturing that gravatar of yours head-banging with his beard waving everywhere…

    Seriously though, you can read with blaring rap music playing? I’d be hopeless.

  3. We ripped off the gravatar from NT Wrong. Its the ape-pictogram of Gilgamesh.

    Turn the bass up and the treble down and its just a beat! During breaks, bring up the mids, and enjoy some Wu-Tang.

  4. I was going to ask what an ape-pictogram was, but google obliged. Who knew such wonders existed! Now I’m tempted to replace my gravatar with Enkidu.

    What on earth must real apes think when shown these incomprehensible images?

  5. Ken, I could have written this post because you described my study/editing practices to a tee. 🙂

  6. Radiohead has a nice ambient sound to their music, which works well on “low” in the background when I have to write a paper ;-).

  7. I have always been envious of people who could study with mucic – Occasionally I can study with classical music. I have friends who prepare sermons or do assignments in cafes – I could never do such a thing. My study at church is always the plcae with least distractions (except for blogging of course).

  8. I wish I could study in a coffee shop–not because it’s too distracting, mind you, simply because I wish I could get out of the house more often!

    It seems that tolerance for background music is an acquired taste. When I younger I listened to rock constantly, while reading, writing, playing video games, even when falling asleep. Now I mostly can only listen to it when I’m doing something mindless like housework or driving.

  9. Weird. We love coffee shops and bars for studying. In Houston, some pubs have faster wireless and more plugs than coffee shops. For us, the more noise, the easier it is to ignore and focus on what we’re reading or writing.

    In South Africa (well Stellenbosch), there is neither fast (nor free) wireless or multiple plugs for laptops in coffee shops.

  10. I have to listen to music when I am writing.

    I CANNOT write anything unless I have music playing; it distracts the part of my ADHD brain that wants to wander.

    Pretty much anything from Muse to Mozart.

    • LOL. Now I’m picturing a little boy version of the Punisher dancing on your shoulder while you type… 😉

  11. The instrumental music I listen to is just as distracting as anything with words. I do listen to music when grading multiple-choice and that sort of thing, but I can’t really read, including reading essays, when there’s music I like on. If it’s music I don’t like, it usually doesn’t distract me, but it might annoy me.

  12. […] Brown asked what sort of music we listened to, if at all, while studying. I failed to answer, because my answer would change from […]

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