I thought I'd kick off the new year on a slightly less technical note than usual: the tunes I play to boost my productivity. Silence kills me and causes my mind to drift; I personally find that having the right kind of music playing low in the background keeps me going in the right direction when I'm trying work.
This is a very personal subject, so I can't say that what works for me will work for you, but it can't hurt to try out what I'm playing and see what it does for your work life. So, without further ado, here are my 5 top albums for cranking out code:
5) 'Marimbach' - Beverley Johnston
Soft, compelling, and beautiful. This is an album made entirely from classical marimba pieces (mostly solos). It's not distracting at all, but isn't so slow or quiet as to make you lethargic.
4) 'Flight of the Cosmic Hippo' - Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
A nostalgic favorite of mine from high school, this album is a collection of eclectic instruments playing a genre that is entirely it's own. Don't be thrown off by the funky title, these are some serious musicians (including the great Victor Wooten) and it is pretty high-energy the whole way through. My favorite for pressure situations. If I have a deadline today, this is what I play.
3) 'Hush' - Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin
This is a collection of duets between a pair of virtuosos: Yo-Yo Ma, the master cellist, and Bobby McFerrin, the most amazing vocalist I've ever listened to. This is a man who has truly made his voice an instrument, and it's almost trance-inducing. I like to put this on first thing in the morning when I sit down to start, although I can't articulate why. Just give it a chance. It's strange at first, but once it grows on you it's an indispensable part of your collection.
2) 'Evolution' - Stefon Harris & Blackout
As a mallet player myself, there are few contemporary musicians I love as much as Stefon Harris. This is much richer and fuller music than anything else on my list, but I think it's perfect for the "deep coding" work. Unhurried, but high energy, and smooth without being "easy listening" (which I despise).
1) 'Libertango' - Gary Burton
My favorite album in my collection, it's steady rhythm always makes me feel motivated. If you try nothing else on my list, give this a listen, especially track one (the title track). It's very dense music, but so accessible even to one who is not a musician. I can't recommend it enough.
So if you're looking for a few new tunes to keep you going during those times of loose focus, see if you can find something you like among my favorites, and drop me a line if you do! I've got more in my back pocket, I just can't share it all in one blog post. :)