Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trance and Software Development

A less technical post . . . I'm constantly on the search of better music to listen to while developing software. It's a hard thing to figure out. Most of the music that I would normally listen to doesn't work for writing software. Moreover, the music that I can listen to while developing changes with the different types of tasks that I find myself involved in each day. I'm going to give some of my recommendations below, and I hope to hear from you with some other ideas.

For starters, I generally can't hear anything with lyrics while developing. It just distracts me far too much. Mozart, and other similar classical stuff, is an obvious choice. I do the classical thing occasionally, but I find that something like Mozart actually begins to absorb my attention. I think it's the over complex, mathematical structure actually. You might think it would go well with software, but it seems to compete with my minds own work after a certain amount of time.

The requirement for an absence of lyrics leads me to Trance. I'm not really into dance music but I recently discovered that Trance is a sort of Mozart with far less complexity and more repetition. It seems to have enough energy and flavor to keep me from drooling over the keyboard, all while being much less of a competitor for active mindshare than the more intricate sound scape of the Viennese prodigy. Trance, though new to my work playlist, is working pretty well so far. I'm curious to see how far it goes.

Somewhat related to Trance, from the narrow frame of reference of programming music, is the reggae sub-genre "dub". Dub frequently sports a sparse lyrical space while having really keystroke compatible beats. Sometimes you might find yourself slowing down the fingers to match the beat, but whatever, at least your being productive. I've had some success with crafting dub/trance stations on pandora; you might give that a try.

Finally, my never fail work soundtrack would have to be opera. The lyrics are beyond me, the music is somehow engaging but not distracting. Mozart's operas are great, but so is everything from Verdi and Rossini to Wagner.

That's my contribution. I hope some these ideas work for you. And I'm always looking for new music / software combos. Let me know what you listen to at work.


Anonymous said...

Although I don't develop software, I have run into the same trouble with music and the work day. It is an essential part of my day, and I am constantly changing the tunes because I dread wearing out a song. So, thanks for this post!

Recommendations: I have found Paco De Lucia an important choice. Flamenco has those unexpected rhythms and bursts of notes-like Jazz-but it doesn't distract me like some Jazz can. There is a record called, Cositas Buenas that is worth checking out.

Medeski, Martin & Wood is another go-to band. Certainly Jazz influenced, but saturated with funk, hip/hop, R&B. No words, just beats. Combustication is a great one to work to. Also in this genre: Galactic.

Thanks for your ideas! It will help keep work in the desert fresh.

Anonymous said...

What about the Chemical Brothers? Does that kind of music annoy you?

Jeremy said...

As an engineer responsible for the operating system I prefer Rage Against the Machine or Linkin Park when it's time to buckle down and go to work. Working in a corporate HQ maybe it's the ability of these bands to be played extremely loud and drown everyone/everything out that works for me. Chad would have guessed U2 as my artist of choice.

Chad Davis said...

BTW -- I've worn the trance out already. It seems to bring on a slight tension behind the eyes. Back to dub and opera.

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dman said...

heh! yes Trance works a treat!

Anonymous said...

Trance is good indeed. Try reggaeton too, it has a good beat (usually) and lyrics, but I can't undestand a word they're saying!