If you code to music, what type of music do you listen to?

After I saw the discussion about headphones I was curious... Do you have a go-to genre of music when you code or is it anything or everything?

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Right now, Tycho is my go to artist for when I'm coding.

However, I've also been building up a workTunes playlist on Spotify. It contains a healthy variety of music that generally has little to no lyrics and varies in tempo and volume to keep me focused and the office noises out.

Tycho is my go to for when I'm reading or otherwise need to concentrate on what's in front of me.

Sometimes music from the 60's and 70's, ranging from the beatles to fleetwood mac, sometimes a playlist from spotify called Zen Focus, which used to have the more appropriate name "Indie folk for focus."

I also have a custom playlist called "Instrumental", containing instrumental songs that I like from Flook, Bill Frisell, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and more.

I also quite recently got into a couple of trip-hop beats by RJD2

It really, really depends. If it's something that requires me to fall into some deep thought, I'll put on some ambient tones or super, super-chill EDM.

If it's just something a little more rote, say building HTML skeletons, initial setup of JavaScript constructors or whatever, then anything loud that I'm currently in the mood for. I've got a healthy mix of genres on my iPhone. :)


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I really enjoy Jazz Vibes Playlist on Spotify. It's jazz mixed with a hip hop beat most of the time. Otherwise, hip hop is my go to

I love atmosphere, anything from slow brooding doom to symphonic death metal or even the calming sounds of post-rock. The music always has to do two things for me: relax me and prevent me from getting distracted.

In the morning I tend to start with less intense music, something more focusing on atmosphere and ambience than rhythm. This lets me ease into the day, or perhaps let parts of my brain sleep a bit longer.

I then switch to more intense music as the day goes on. This is primarily to keep my mind from getting distracted. In idle moments I focus on the music, which is such a strong contrast from programming that it doesn't appear to occupy the same brain space. I can switch from music to programming as easily, preventing getting interrupted by real distractions.

I listen with good sized speakers -- possible since I tend to work from home. I find, with the genres I listen to, compression hurts the sounds so I tend to listen to CDs still*.

(*This serves a second purpose of forcing me to get up every 40-60 minutes to change the CD).

If I'm concentrating, calm works best (2002, Liquid Mind, Zamfir, etc.). If I'm doing more mindless work, I bump it up a little; I have a Pandora station called "Chill Out Radio" that plays stuff from Cafe del Mar, Sunlounger, Groove Armada, The XX, etc.

I'd like to try Music to Code By; I just haven't gotten off my duff to actually click over and get it.

We had a great thread about this a little while back


I'm personally into a few things depending on mood:

  • The same hip hop track over and over again
  • Movie soundtracks
  • Nothing, but headphones still on (this usually means I'm so in the zone I don't want to bother finding the right music)

I recently got into this as my "all day" track: youtube.com/watch?v=tXtATeQ7GKg

I listen to the soundtrack of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies when I debug. It makes me feel like a superhero and reminds me that it's not quite the end of the world.

EDM if I'm coding. The bass rhythm gives my lizard brain something to do while processing is happening. :)
anything and everything else if I'm not.

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Claire Pollard
FORTRAN programmer for @CADfix by day, BMX rider by night, robotics tweeter for @Pi_Borg on the side...
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