Thursday, June 7, 2012

Music While You Write?

Do you play music while you work or write?

As I sat at work today listening to classical National Public Radio (NPR), one piece caught my attention. It had a high excitable tempo that later turned to a calming section. Later I caught myself moving to the rhythm of a piano as I typed, sometimes even typing in data to the rhythm of the music. 

I’ve heard that music is closely linked to math. Rhythm organizes our brain…or something like that. 

There definitely is something to music. I’ve found it to be healing. Once, I was at a conference and as the day wore on, I got a migraine. I was dreading my next workshop, but I went anyway. It was a workshop on Using Music with Children (from my child development days). I got there ten minutes early and walked into a room where classical music was playing. I sat down and closed my eyes. By the time the instructor began, my headache was completely gone. The music had worked out all the kinks in my poor head. 

I used to need complete silence to work (to focus), but I’ve changed my mind. I like having music in the background now. It is soothing and it makes me happy. I think it does help my productivity as well (and that might be because my spirits are lifted). 

All this was running through my mind today, so I looked up “music while you work studies” on the internet and I found an article and some selected quotes that I’d like to share: 


Research from University of Windsor in Canada showed the effect of music on the work performance of software developers. According to the study, without background music the designers’ quality of work was lowest and it took them more time to complete tasks. With background music, participants reported positive mood change and enhanced perception while working. Plus, the researchers noted that this positive change in mood correlated with increased curiosity — an excellent thing to have when doing creative work.”

“The type of music you listen to also matters. In a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy, excitative music tends to increase feelings of vigor and tension, while sedative music eased tension. That may be stating the obvious, but here’s the interesting part: Listening to your favorite type of music, whatever it is, lowers your perception of tension. This means you don’t feel as stressed or tense. But your heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure is higher when listening to excitative music — even if you like it.”

So, do you listen to music while you work or write? If so, what kind of music?

18 comments:

  1. In elementary school, we once did an experiment involving plants and music. The plant that listened to rap grew the best.

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    1. McKenzie, Rap huh? I wonder how that would affect my writing. :0)

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  2. I LOVE listening to music while I write. In fact, I find it sometimes hard to write if I don't have music, just because it helps me so much. I listen to all sorts of music when I do it too. It just depends on my mood or the mood that my story is in. Like one day I can be listening to classical, and the next, rock. Lately it's been a lot of music from Les Miserables, and thats really been helpful. I truly believe that music has the power to inspire, and heal. It keeps the world a-turning! :D

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    1. Griffinclaw, I think music can really set you in the right mood or atmosphere for writing particular pieces. Can you imagine a world without music? Now, that would be a horror story!

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  3. I'm like your old you - I have to have absolute silence when I write. But you've got me thinking... Maybe I'll give music a try and see if I can do it...

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  4. I'll sometimes listen to music that fits the book while I'm writing. In the one I'm doing for Camp NaNoWriMo, the bakery owner listens to 50's and 60's hits all the time, so while I'm reviewing what I've written, checking email, stuff like that, I play it for good measure or I'll find a song and let it play while I get a few words from it down.

    Otherwise, I go for silence while the family is asleep because it's the only time of day I can GET that. ;)

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    1. Chautona,
      I like that you listen to 50's and 60's music with your bakery book. That would put you into the right mind.

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  5. I love to listen to music while I write. But, it has to be the same playlist I always listen to, or I'll start singing along and never get any writing done :D

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    1. Jenn,
      I agree. I can't listen to Lady Gaga or Pink, for example, because I just feel the need to sing along. Nothing would get written. LOL.

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  6. I WISH it helped me. I hear about people and the songs that inspired them while writing, but it doesn't work well for me. I listen to music when my entire family is in the room, and I need help focusing. It's a little ironic to think how well how extra sounds can help me ignore all the sounds....

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    1. Peggy, Well, I'm glad that I now can listen to music or not. I can focus both ways now.

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  7. Only the kind without lyrics...otherwise I can't concentrate. But it is healing, for sure.

    How have you been, Dawn? Have a great week!

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    1. Michelle, when I'm writing, I like no lyrics too.

      I've been doing well! I need to come visit your blog! It's been a long time. Thanks for visiting!

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  8. Dawn, this is a great topic. At work I totally get in the zone with Zen meditation music.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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    1. Maurice,
      Sounds relaxing, to keep you focused!

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  9. I can write with music on as long as it is not so loud that it invades my thoughts. My favorite music is "Morning Music"--that's the sounds of the robins and cardinals and mocking birds singing, the crows cawing to one another, infrequent traffic going by, an occasional dog bark, and squirrels' toenails scrabbling on tree bark as they chase each other. It's a symphony of sounds that I find inspiring.

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    1. Pam,
      I love that image "squirrels' toenails scrabbling on tree bark". Sounds like that should be in a devotion or something talking about God's creation. :0)

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I appreciate your comments! I try to respond to each one.