Music for Editors and Writers

I have come to the conclusion that, no matter how I try to manipulate the situation, Spotify thinks I like two songs when I am seeking “music without words” as I edit. They are:

This song was lovely and conducive to my editing process … the first 1,293 times, but I need to move on!

And … multiple variations of Sheep May Safely Graze.

I need more than a river and sheep as my editing (and writing) background sounds!

The Backstory

I know we all have our preferred background music/noise situations. I prefer audiobooks when I drive, but if I must drive with music instead, it must contain words.

When I’m doing something that gives me a little “space” concentration-wise (i.e., not editing or writing), I tend toward Coffeehouse mixes (although Spotify hasn’t been setting my world on fire there either — I’ll tackle that at a different time).

When I started writing for SmartBrief as a freelancer almost two years ago, the first thing I turned to was the classical station on DirecTV. Then I moved on to WQXR through I Heart Radio. Eventually, I added Spotify to the mix.

Now, though, I’m needing more variety.

Therefore, I turned to my Facebook community for ideas.

Confession: I haven’t tried any of these yet (can you say “stuck in routine”?). In case you are looking for ideas, though, here they are!

BROADWAY!

This was just a misunderstanding on the part of the person who was responding (i.e., they missed the “no words” thing) and recommended Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen songs, but Broadway tunes are rarely wrong as far as I am concerned. As a writer, I have to give props to “Hurricane” from “Hamilton” because a song with the lyrics “I wrote my way out” is ….. me. (Sadly, so is “Words Fail” from “Dear Evan Hansen.”)

Words fail, also, when I need background noise that helps me edit (and write) better also. That’s why these suggestions may do the trick.

Classical

There is debate regarding the degree to which The Mozart Effect helps people be smarter; I know classical music is one of my go-to’s for concentration. These were some recommendations:

Beethoven Concerti (such as the Piano Concerto No. 5/Emperor Concerto).

Handel’s Water Music (such as Suite No. 1 in F Major)

Mozart (such as Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa)

Anything from the NY Times 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music list (such as Mother Goose Suite: The Fairy Garden)

Yiruma (sans the River Flows in You part, such as Prelude in G Minor)

Electronic

By offering a consistent, mellow-toned, and lyric-less soundscape, electronic music can actually improve performance in immersive tasks, while providing a similar boost during repetitive tasks-through increased happiness and efficiency. ~ EDM Tunes.

Dubstep (such as Dubstep Yoga: Clouds of Wonder)

Ulrich Schnauss (such as Ships Will Sail)

Indie Rock/Jazz/Pop

If vocals don’t bug you that much during work, give them a go. Jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, blues, and everything under the sun are really up for grabs here, but remember that “ambient” is the word of the day for a productive session with music playing, at least if you’re engaged in deep work. ~ Sparring Mind

John Coltrane My Favorite Things (such as But Not for Me)

Miles David Kind of Blue (such as So What)

Wade Morrissette (such as Still) (Side note — the music situation in the Morrissette home must have been fascinating (his twin sister is Alanis))

Miscellaneous Choral/Instrumental

“…music that puts you in a positive mood has a positive effect on your performance.” One hypothesis put forth in The Learning Scientists.

Alice Coltrane (such as Transcendence)

Brazilian music (such as Falsa Biana) (note: I was warned this may result in dancing while editing)

Eklipse (such as their version of The Man Who Sold the World)

Choral Music (such as If I Were a Swan)

Gregorian Chants (such as Introit Benedicta Sit)

Jim Brickman (such as Angel Eyes)

Lindsey Stirling (such as Crystallize)

Mannheim Steamroller (such as Traditions of Christmas, especially (obviously) during the holidays)

Max Richter (such as A Catalogue of Afternoons)

Ólafur Arnalds (such as Island Songs V)

Penguin Cafe Orchestra (such as Perpetuum Mobile)

Tibetan Meditation Music (such as Guided Meditation for Violin and Water)

Tosca Radio on Pandora (which the site says includes dub influences, funk influences, “a knack for catchy hooks,” “beats made for dancing,” and “straight drum beats.”

Movie Soundtracks/Film Scores

The Princess Bride Soundtrack

One friend’s general recommendation of “film scores” led me to this great Medium post, My Complete List of Instrumental Movie Scores to Study To, so thanks, Ellana Barrett, for the recommendations. One recommendation from that list, to give you a flavor: Hand Covers Bruise from the Social Network.

Readymade Playlists

My awesome friend Beth of H.O.P.E. Unlimited (Helping Overwhelmed Professionals Excel (& Exhale) has created her own! Check out Coffee Shop Cowork. Also, check Beth’s business out for your VA needs.

Hearts of Space on Spotify.

“Music to Write By” on YouTube

Silas Hite “Sounds for a Dinner Party” on SoundCloud

Sirius XM Chill

“Theta Music Meditation” on YouTube

Beyond being a “readymade playlist,” this article from Sparring Mind discusses a bit of the science behind music’s effect on productivity and also gives a few excellent suggestions.

Coda

I appreciate everyone’s suggestions!

I incorporated the suggestions into a playlist on Spotify (find it at BGP Editing Tunes). While you’re at Spotify anyway, check out the While You Were Working playlist here. The playlist is a compilation of the songs mentioned each day in the While You Were Working SmartBrief (I’m a contributing editor and would love for you to subscribe by clicking here).

What would you add to the list of great tunes for editors and writers?

Music for editors

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

2 thoughts on “Music for Editors and Writers

  1. Great list. I am a no music, no TV person when I am editing, writing, thinking. People have commented how quiet my home is. I listen to audiobooks all the time but when I am doing tasks I don’t have to concentrate or read through my headphones. Music I leave for cooking or driving. Music with words would distract me way too much!

    • WOW! I see that as a true sign of mental discipline, Haralee. It’s so interesting how our needs are all so individualized. Thanks for chiming in.

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