What’s The Best Music To Study To?

Scientists seem to think it’s electronic music, classical music, and a genre called lo-fi. In this article, we explore why these styles of music are so good for that purpose.

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Music to study to

What is the best music to study to? To work to? To simply get something done to? That’s the question on everyone’s mind in a world where distractions abound. Whether you’re a student trying to avoid the warm embrace / nagging notifications of your smartphone or a parent trying to relax after a full day, there’s a cottage industry of playlists, YouTube channels, and Reddit subthreads highlighting “music to study to.” These compilations, channels, and Spotify playlists highlight classical music from familiar faces like Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi, to lo-fi hip-hop beats created by relatively anonymous producers like Chill C., Pueblo Vista, and Noise Flow for the express purpose of studying, chilling out, or just to be played in the background.

Recently, there’s been even more emphasis on music specifically geared to “chill out” to, or the science behind what makes good study music. These playlists take the guesswork out of choosing the best music for concentration. Because of the infinite amount of options available on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, YouTube channels, hip-hop playlists, and instrumental collections take the most stressful part of the process out of the equation. In the mood for a playlist of classical music to help you focus while studying? Spotify and YouTube offer playlists at varying lengths to accompany your work. Below, we break down some of our favorite music to work to, and figure out why, exactly, some musical genres work better than others.

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Check out the uChill playlist on Spotify for lofi, mellow beats perfect to study to.

Classical music to study to

Classical music may not appeal to young people who didn’t grow up listening to the genre, but science suggests that it’s a genre that often offers a very good musical accompaniment to achieve a deep state of relaxation and/or concentration. First, one has to decide what the purpose of said music is supposed to achieve. If it’s concentration, the best music tends to have minimal “salient moments.” A salient event is any specific sound or group of sounds that is an outlier from the previously heard sounds. The first lyric of a song, for instance, is a salient event. It disrupts the previously established flow of the song and moves it somewhere else. Classical music, for instance, rises and swells during particular moments, but it often returns to an original starting point after any climax. As such, it’s good music for concentration, because the rhythm is consistent. Even though there are salient “interruptions,” they quickly dissipate and return to the pattern the brain expects.

An artist like Chopin is excellent music to study to because his compositions revolve around the piano. A single instrument greatly reduces the number of distractions within a song. “24 Preludes, Op.28” is a great choice for concentration because it’s one of Chopin’s most mesmerizing and minimal pieces. The less moving parts, the better. Another more contemporary option is Max Richter. In 2015, the composer literally made an album called Sleep which is a whopping eight hours long. It’s meant to be played while you go to sleep, of course, but it’s nevertheless excellent for studying, reading, working, or simply concentrating on a particular task.

Lo-fi music to chill to

Lo-fi music is perhaps the best background music we currently have at our disposal. This type of music appears all over playlists that are specifically designed for study sessions or focusing on something else. The genre is built around synths, white noise, and simple, straightforward beats. Artists that specialize in this type of music are often unknown producers with names like LOFI JUNGLE, Mindeliq, and stream_error. But unlike other musical artists, they’re not going for fame, they’re simply trying to create background music, or an excellent way to chill out.

Lo-fi music is often more attractive to teenagers and college students because kids simply don’t like Bach or Beethoven as much as they love Kendrick Lamar and Cardi B. That being said, teenagers and college students may simply not know the best classical music to study to. Either way, by riffing off of traditional hip-hop beats, lo-fi artists offer a chill way to zone out. Because lo-fi synthesizes rap, hip-hop, electronic music, and film compositions into a tidy bundle, it’s a perfect middle-ground for young people who are as interested in discovering new music as they are in finding ways to ace their next test.

Electronic music to zone out to

Electronic, ambient, and minimal compositions are often considered the best music to study to. This is because the philosophies behind the genres lend themselves to hyper-focus and awareness. Minimal and ambient electronic music is built off of subtle, microscopic shifts that occur over the course of many minutes (or hours).

Humans associate rhythm with moving forward, with the continuation of events. As such, ambient music that’s constantly chugging ahead, no matter how quietly, will give listeners the illusion of working or studying at a steady pace. It’s only when the BPM of a song is slowed down or sped up that our concentration is snapped.

uDiscover Music’s Ambient Playlist is a good place to start exploring. The playlist includes artists like Underworld, The Orb, Steve Hillage, and Tangerine Dream. If you want to dive deeper, the latter group’s seminal 1974 album, Phaedra, is worth checking out. The band makes music that functions as both background noise and as music you can listen to on its own. The first track is 17-minutes long, and – for whatever reason – humans often associate longer music with smarter, more complex music. It would make sense that we would listen to music we deem as “smart” when doing tasks that require our intellect like studying, working, or looking for motivation.

Check out the uChill playlist on Spotify for lofi, mellow beats perfect to study to.

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