Written by Natalie Fisher et al
It’s that time of year again where lots of university students are working hard on dissertations and revision and sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated. Library sessions can be tough and it’s important that you can always find that all important focus time, especially when you’re struggling with time commitments.
That’s where music comes in. It may not seem the most obvious motivational tool, but science itself has said that music is extremely beneficial to the mind and can generally improve the ability to concentrate. Whether it’s a soothing, stress relieving vocal from the likes of London Grammar, or a more upbeat motivational rhythm from Disclosure, it’s fair to say that music has become a key part of student life, particularly in the library.
If you’re looking for the perfect music to help you concentrate, then look no further. Our writers here at Frequency 21 have recognized the key role that music plays and have put together some recommendations to ensure you always have a motivated and productive library session. So check it out, and make sure you add these to your playlists.
Natalie Fisher – Kiasmos – Kiasmos
A beautiful album, composed of electronic ambient music that is perfect for motivation. It contains upbeat tracks (perfect for that fast typing accompaniment) and slower ones if you need a moment of reflection or to do a bit more reading. There are no lyrics so there’s no fear of getting distracted and its dynamic rhythms never get boring. A winner for keeping the creative juices flowing.
Kai Feltham – The National
The music is often so dreary that it’s oddly uplifting and Matt Berninger’s baritone voice is one of the best things going. Always go for Alligator or Boxer, they’re incredible.
Dorica Santos – Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club
Luckily for me I study architecture and that means I spend most my time doing coursework. I don’t speak a word of Spanish and for this very reason, I listen to this album so that I am not tempted to sing along. Admittedly, this album isn’t chilled but it certainly has class: rhythmic percussion, amazing guitar and piano skills, as well as the vocals of males who have aged like wine. Another reason I love this album is because it reflects the sunshine and positive vibes in pre-Communist Cuba, likewise, pre-University life.
Eli Sulaiman – Tomppabeats
Lo-fi, instrumental tracks with a good beat is what keeps me focused. A lot of Tomppabeat’s stuff are short, but I could play it all repeatedly and not be annoyed.
Lewis Dale – William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
Nearly five hours of an emotional but settling loop that changes enough to maintain interest but is ambient enough to aid focus. You can call it a day at the end.
Jack Andrew Cribb – Björk – Post/Bastards
Björk’s contribution to the realm of chilled ethereality is reality-changing, but for me personally, it has to be 1995’s Post, one of her definitive albums. Scintillating soundscapes rush and mutate over one another, while Björk’s sung poetry both splits from and becomes one with the music. Also Bastards is a good listen for revision, an album made up of remixes of her tracks, from artist such as Omar Souleyman, Death Grips, and Hudson Mohawke amongst others
Alessa Frenkel – Hans Zimmer or Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Revenant Soundtrack
Epic movie soundtracks that make you feel like you’re in a different world and give you the motivation to be just as epic. I can only do instrumental music while studying and these are absolutely brilliant composers.
Carina Ly – H.E.R./ Russ/ Isaiah Rashad, Little Simz
Whilst revising I generally gravitate towards a mixture of mellow R&B music like H.E.R. and Russ as their voices are relaxing which gets me into a calm mood. The mid-tempo melodies and slower beats are just enough to blend in the background as to not get too lost into the music. In general, I prefer alternative hip hop so I like to listen to music from Isaiah Rashad and Little Simz among others, whilst revising as well. I find my mind works better when I listen to music that has a boom-bap beat, as it keeps me awake and alert.
Rhiannon Knowles – Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones Theme
It’s perfect as it has no words, builds up dramatically in an epic way and reminds me that Ned Stark did not die for me to just sit around procrastinating all day. (Fun fact: this made it onto my most listened Spotify playlist of 2016)
Kelsey Raynor – Bon Iver
I find it best to listen to anything classical/without vocals when revising or else I find myself getting distracted. Although Bon Iver puts everything together so harmonically that it really works out for me and helps me to focus on whatever I’m doing and not stress about it.
James Crossan – Stone Roses – The Stone Roses/ Tyler, The Creator’s Goblin.
Depends what I’m revising for. I’m aware that these albums aren’t exactly alike by the way.
Jourdan-Reiss Russell – Kamasi Washington – The Epic
Once you put it on and let yourself go, it’s a whole different planet where it’s just beautiful music and nothing else. You shut the outside world out, get your work done and get 3 hours of badass Jazz music
Samee Anibaba – BADBADNOTGOOD
It’s tough getting the right balance when trying to find music to study. You need something laidback but not boring, something interesting but not too hyped up because who’s trying to get gassed in the middle of reading a law journal? My usual choice is the band BADBADNOTGOOD; they make chill instrumental tunes that you can put on in the background without distracting you or making you accidentally write down bars in your notes.
Travis Martin – Frank Ocean – Blonde
Blonde is the album which sends me to into irresistible bliss, from Nights to Godspeed I am sent into such a relaxing state my mind is cleared. This is perfect for revision as I am able to just focus on the subject alone without any distracting thoughts. As an album, I prefer to play it during a late night revision session, this is because Frank Ocean has smoothness that guides you through the textbooks and endless writing.
Edward Burrell – Travis Scott – Rodeo
Perfect for your regular revision. With many of the beats being almost psychedelic, putting you in a trance like state of relaxation, comfort will not be a problem. It’s an album that can enjoyed at low volume meaning you can listen to it in the library and no one will disturb you however there are also some upbeat and inspirational tracks to keep you revising for just that bit longer.
Francis Barton – The Weeknd – Trilogy
The Weeknd’s Trilogy is my go to album for revision. Featuring 30 songs (3 CD’s of 10), it acts as a timing measure for me; I take a break whenever I get through each CD. The music is not too imposing, meaning you can work with it on in the background, and does not distract you when you need to get those facts remembered. Not to mention that the songs themselves are great to listen to and offer a really chill vibe, which is exactly what you need when you’re faced with 9 exams, two of which you have no clue about (help me).
And to make things a little easier for you, we were kind enough to make a Spotify playlist out of these artist. You can listen to it here: