Music holds an essential place in every aspect lives and is an important companion regardless of the emotion we’re feeling. We don’t need science to tell us that our brains love music, and can even help us perform better with certain tasks.
We have two attention systems: conscious and unconscious. While our conscious attention may be honed into the task at hand (e.g. writing emails, reading, etc.) our unconscious attention can still affect the former through our peripheral senses. In this case, music can help with concentration by blocking out our unconscious system. So you can’t help but be extremely annoyed by your colleague clearing his throat, but the good news is: you can put on headphones!
While music is subjective and everyone’s preferred genre for concentration differs, it must be the case that it's non-invasive to you in order to help with concentration. Other factors like playing music of medium volume and songs that are 60 beats per minute are also noted to be helpful with concentration, but these factors vary from person to person for the most part.
While you can choose the first Spotify playlist you see, we think there’s nothing quite like discovering and experiencing listening to an entire album from start to finish. If you agree, be sure to check out some of our favourite albums for concentration below, and share your favourites in the comments!
“People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” by A Tribe Called Quest
Noted by many critics as one of the best Hip Hop albums of all time for shifting the overall trajectory of the genre, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” is a masterwork of flow for ultimate chill. While this may not be the best choice for those who can’t concentrate when listening lyrical music, it’s nearly impossible to not get goosebumps when “Can I Kick It” comes on. R.I.P. Phife Dawg.
“Simply Baroque” By Yo Yo Ma
There are simply too many ideal Classical albums to include on this list, but since we have to choose, we've decided to go with the work of unparalleled Cellist Yo Yo Ma. This album is an interesting take on some of Bach’s most well-known Baroque pieces; both warm and moody, it makes for an interesting listening experience.
“Interstellar Soundtrack” by Hans Zimmer
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hans Zimmer is on the list. A true genius and one of the most important composers of our day, Zimmer has written for more Hollywood blockbusters than any of his contemporaries, both today and in history: think Inception, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lion King, the list goes on. While all of the listed are great for concentration for their epic sound, we love Interstellar for its otherworldly vibes.
“Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a Jazz album. Considered by many to be the most important Jazz album of all time, every song from "Kind of Blue" feels like a mellow Summer day. The juxtaposition of piano and Davis’s legendary trumpet abilities makes for a timeless masterpiece that will always hold a special place in the world of Jazz.
“A Day Without Rain” by Enya
While a commercially successful album when it was first released, the Irish singer’s most popular work has since become a cultural phenomenon for its experimental approach, informing trends in the contemporary genre that followed. Who doesn’t want to feel like their floating above the clouds when they’re drawing up a financial model?
“Ready To Die” by The Notorious B.I.G.
The late rapper only made two albums, but they’ve gone down in history as classics in the Hip Hop genre. In fact, many critics consider “Ready To Die” to be the best Hip Hop album of all time. Even if you don’t agree with that statement, it’s nearly impossible to find another rapper who can compare to the talent and flow of Notorious B.I.G.
“In Between Dreams” by Jack Johnson
If you’re in a sappy mood, there’s really no better go-to artist than Jack Johnson. With more endearing charm and happy pop-vibes than a young Justin Bieber and One Direction combined, Jack Johnson is the original melt-your-heart male vocal. A blend of soft rock and folk acoustic, there’s no better way to end the week than with “In Between Dreams”.
“A Winged Victory for the Sullen” by ATOMOS
Classical at its core, “A Winged Victory for the Sullen” exemplifies ATOMO's unique ambient sound, blending strings, piano, the occasional horn, and electric guitars to create a moving experience. The album was notably recorded in large spaces, so each instrument seems to have an almost transcendent sound that reminds us of the grandiosity of nature.
“Amelie From Montmartre” by Yann Tiersen
A soundtrack with as much charm and quirkiness as the film (which is saying a lot), this album features instruments like harpsichord, banjo, vibraphone and even a bicycle wheel to make your listening experience an unexpected one. Quintessentially French, “Amelie From Montmartre” will transport you from your office to the streets of Paris.
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As part of our #BeTheChange series, we sit down and discuss how work has evolved, with change-makers in our Garage Community.
This week we chat with Zev, an artist and lighting consultant. She uses The 33PRESS moniker for her artistic endeavors, and prefers to remain anonymous!
We chat about finding fulfillment, creating balance, and embracing discomfort in a cut-throat city like Hong Kong.
Author: Ching Lam Ip, Programme & Marketing Lead, Garage Society