Music at Work

I just saw this article and flow chart on the Huffington Post. As at least one commentator noted, it is missing quite a few genres and has some others like smooth jazz ::shudder::  I thought it might be a launching point for talking about what we personally like to listen to while we work. 


  • edited May 2016
    Well, according to the chart, I should be listening to "whatever" - ha! -
    which is precisely what I listen to!
  • edited May 2016
    I usually avoid Huffington Post items like the plague but I thought I'd check out the item you posted.

    It is always tricky to attempt to reduce all of music to a handful of "genre" categories. I had a number of complaints with their selections:
    No Avant-Garde but it is usually not a good idea to play that kind of music when co-workers can hear. Gospel might also be a genre to avoid at work but no R&B? Isn't the Blues the perfect soundtrack for Mondays? Speaking of soundtracks looks like Film music doesn't fit in either. No Folk but Polka rates it's own category? Reggie is the only kind of world music - no Latin, African or Asian of any kind?

    Not playing Heavy Metal when driving passengers seems like sound advice. Not sure I agree that listening to Ambient makes one drowsy; being more calm might benefit 18 wheel drivers.
  • edited May 2016

    - Beware of anything from that kind of source that says "research shows that" without specifying the research (I am looking at the baroque-makes-you-more-creative claim). I am no expert in the brain science literature but have dipped in enough to get the sense that many of the popularized claims made on its behalf are regarded as dubious at best by actual neuroscientists (including a lot of the left brain/right brain and brain gym stuff).

    - Much of my work when I am in the office (as opposed to meetings or the classroom) is reading-thinking-writing-deciding-communicating. ANYTHING that has a beat (in particular a bass beat) or comprehensible vocals is out. It noticeably diminishes my concentration.

    - Ambient is good. But ambient needs some subdividing. I am not sure how to name them, but there are kinds of ambient/drone that seem to work by opening up consciousness, making it more airy, and these are perfect. There are other kinds of ambient/drone that seem to work by absorbing/numbing consciousness, and I don't find those helpful for working. I am not sure it's that they make me sleepy, more that they preoccupy my brain too much; they do not seem to offer space for nimbleness any more than thud-thud-thud does.

    - Anything else instrumental without a bass beat can work - baroque, acoustic guitar, quiet piano music...but there is a similar distinction in here somewhere, so e.g. Nils Frahm is fine but not always, say, Olafur Arnalds because the latter is at times more emotive; stuff that is pulling at the emotions is not good. 

    Maybe there's a general distinction in here somewhere between music that is trying to overpower you in some way (make you dance, make you tense, make your emotions swell, fill you with energy, make you drowsy, create a trance state, etc.) and music that is .... resting? Reflective? Blowing kisses rather than hugging? I suspect that distinction cuts across quite a few genres. I think for me it's the key distinction for work music.

  • edited May 2016
    In my university marking days if I ever saw "research shows" without naming it, I would automatically put "EVIDENCE? Whose research?"! I totally agree with GP's thoughts about the brain material. We have had some popular fads in primary schools based upon incredibly slim evidence, if at all, with regard to this kind of 'research' that actually can harm children's development. (And I can give examples of articles that show this - I have my research!)
  • Experience shows that some research show very little of value...

  • This clip on scientific research from Last Week Tonight is spot on for this thread and research. 
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