​Music for developers – What to listen to while computer programming


Seeing as some of the world’s most famous and successful tech visionaries started out as computer programmers, this skill should not be underestimated. And while we don’t know whether the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg listened to music while frantically typing away, it has been known to improve concentration.

Some computer programmers won’t like having the distraction while others may not be fond of certain genres, but it is interesting to note how music can affect productivity. So, which artists and what songs should be added to your iPod shuffle and played on repeat?

music for developers

Improving a programmer’s flow

Aside from what comes up on the screen, a programmer’s biggest problem is sure to be blocking out everything around them and solely concentrating on coding. Getting in the right state of mind to achieve the perfect flow isn’t exactly easy, but along with the right working environment, music can also make a huge difference.

According to psychological studies, developers can get into the rhythm of working faster by listening to music, as it blocks out distractions like telephone calls and annoying(!) colleagues. On top of that, music can keep the brain alert while dealing with tedious and repetitive problems. It can also inspire and motivate, sooth stress, and fight off tiredness.

However, it is important to bear in mind that music can also be a bit of a concentration killer. The wrong musical genre or song choice can be a big disturbance and could cause a programmer to make more mistakes or fail to notice something significant.

What music should you listen to while programming?

In many respects, the choice of music will be personal preference. But at the same time, a computer programmer or developer should not disregard a certain genre because they don’t like it, as this type of music could notably improve concentration.

The music you should think about adding to a programming playlist includes:

Classical – For example, the impressionist and calming sounds of a composer like Debussy can put you in the right frame of mind. Switch over to Beethoven or Mozart for some inspirational and epic symphonies to complete a project on time.

Jazz – The unorganised rhythms of jazz might not seem conducive to structured programming, but the ebb and flow of artists like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie can soothe and stimulate in equal measure.

Electronic – Due to its very nature, electronic music is well suited to computer programming, as they share the same systematic characteristics. Therefore, artists like Ratatat can provide some great background sounds while working.

All of these genres share one common trait – they are mostly instrumental and do not contain any lyrics. Most people seem to agree that music with vocals is not a good idea, as it does more harm than good when trying to focus.

For this reason, film scores and soundtracks are also popular among numerous developers, as they are typically used in the background to improve the overall ambience. But at the end of the day, it is up to the individual developer to explore different types of music and find a genre or artist that works best.

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