Music to study by

While studying I like to listen to instrumental music, but I’ve been studying so much that I’m starting to run out–I’m a litttle sick of the following:

surf music (Dick Dale, Jack Nitzsche, Duane Eddy, etc)
Tarentel, Oxes, Trans Am
Viktor Krauss, Bill Frisell
Friends of Dean Martinez
Miles Davis (and assorted projects)

Any suggestions for something new? I use Pandora a lot so I’m open to about anything (just no vocals). Maybe some funk? What would be a good instrumental funk band or anything else? My tastes are obviously varied. But nothing too crazy like Boredoms or OOIOO–I found them distracting.

Red Sparowes
Pelican (quite a bit heavier than the other two)

Herbie Hancock’s 70s fusion classics, “Head Hunters” and “Thrust,” are amazing. You may also try some of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever recordings, like “Romantic Warrior.”

In a similar category as mogwai:

God Speed You Black Emporer
Explosions in the Sky

Other instrumental stuff:

The Raybeats

Well, probably too old school for you. But back in the day I used to study while listening to Mozart’s Requiem (love it) or various Mozart symphonies… on vinyl. I’m a bit of an aging fanboy. :)

Worked very nicely for me though.


If you don’t mind classical music, I’d recommend the keyboard works of JS Bach – particularly the French and English Suites, and the Partitas. My brother once described them as “musical rain.” They keep the brain buzzing but are for the most part quiet/subtle enough not to hold the attention hostage.

Awesome, thanks guys. I’ve been listening to Red Sparowes on Pandora–good stuff. And they’re mixing in Pelican (doesn’t seem that heavy?), Explosions in the Sky, and Godspeed. Oddly, no Mogwai, which seems like it would be right at home with the others.

I’ll check out the funk recommendations later. I’m not sure about the classical music though, because I usually need something a little more “up”, but I’ll give Mozart and Bach a try. I was listening to Chopin for a bit and it was nice but didn’t have the spark that I need to keep plowing through financial statement analysis…

I usually can’t work without music unless I’m writing a particularly gnarly bit of analysis. So instrumental music it is, then. Most of mine is electronic-based stuff which might not be your cup of tea, but you could try these:

The Break - should fit the bill for surf music, although I find it too “distracting” for anything but basic data entry
Redshift - 70’s Tangerine Dream influenced heavy Moog sequences with a dark edge, I have all their albums on repeat and I must do 90% of work to this
Plaid - left of centre ambient techno, good especially late at night for some reason
Helios - chilled guitar-based ambient, often sends me to sleep so… um… maybe not so good

Vanessa Mae and the works of Shostakovich.

Tell me more.

In 8th grade I listened to “Declaration” by The Alarm every night while doing homework. I ended the year winning the science fair, winning the “Olympic” academic Decathlon (it was 1984 in L.A.), and winning the “Outstanding Boy” award at 8th grade graduation. I stopped after 8th grade, and my grades fell hard. I never did better in school until the 2 years of college.

They use a large collection of ancient analog synths, centred around a Moog IIIC modular, which has a uniquely rich sound. They’re beasts to program and play, the modulators often drift slightly out of tune, and they sound amazing. Decent speakers are required to really get the full effect at loud volumes, although for quiet listening it’s perfect. Although they have a general plan of where each track is going, the details are usually improvised. It’s slow burn stuff.

They sell some of their stuff online here where you can hear a bunch of short samples. Oblivion, Halo and Down Time would be good starting points.


When trying to focus on what I’m reading, it’s generally house music. Super regular, never surprising, vocal light.

Right now I’m jacked for Solar Fields, Movements. It’s ambient/psyient, smooth and uplifting.

The correct answer is:

Incredibly good work music for the mind and soul. It’s like aural Ritalin. Sample the opening track, Over the Ice, right here.

How about Shadowfax? They’ve been gone a long time, but I guess the music must still be around someplace.

Hiroshima - One Wish. My university study life was filled with Hiroshima and Kitaro.

Kitaro, oh yeah, I remember Kitaro. His synth Planets is fun.