About this Playlist
Starting creative work is hard.
Starting creative work is considered.
Starting creative work requires a transition from one state to another and transitions cost.
This is how I use Focusmate and active listening to help my mind to pay up and make the change.
First I have to decide that I want to work – that’s easy enough – zero creative spend.
Second I make sure my workstation is set up correctly – zero creative spend.
Third, I book two back to back 50 minute Focusmate sessions – sometimes there’s a little resistance to doing this but again, zero creative spend.
Before the session I write down what I want to achieve and then add that to the chat when the session starts. I greet my working partner with enthusiasm and actively listen to what they want to achieve. I acknowledge their goals and if there’s a mutual resonance maybe chat for a minute or two.
Then, when we’re ready, I put my mic on mute, make sure I’m sitting comfortably and start the playlist.
Getting Back Together – music2work2
Listen to the gaps.
Listen to the hits.
47 seconds – repeat.
Listen to the gaps.
Listen to the hits
1 minute 40 seconds
How are you doing? Good?
Alright – Cool.
Let’s up the level of flow – let the right hand pick you up and carry you further in.
2 minutes 35 seconds
Alright – hold for a second.
Before we get too carried away, let’s go back and lay a deeper foundation by repeating the above.
The beauty of music is, now that your brain knows the basic outline of the piece, it can move from active listening to hearing. You’re still getting the dopamine hits of fulfilled expectations, but you’ve got more bandwidth to spend on your creative work. The more you get to know this piece the faster you’ll be able to get to a flow state and the longer you’ll stay in.
At just over 9 minutes, Getting Back Together is dynamic enough to put on repeat and just go. With over 400k streams and accelerating, that’s what many people tell me they do – me included. Yet for this playlist I wanted to create a sonic and energetic journey, one that would sustain the listener for 90 minutes. It’s all pianos and strings and soft soundscapes to start with but by the end, the beats have taken over and there’s enough energy pumping that you might as well be working inside Berghain.
Having spent months curating the list, I thought it might be fun to do a stream of consciousness write up of the tracks and why they’re on the list – I’m publishing this purely to give the artists some visibility on musicto.com and of course to express my gratitude for their creative output. How I hear the list is totally subjective and everyone will have a different experience but if you’re curious as to why it’s like this – here goes:
Through the Glass – Sam Walton Gryzwa
It’s soft, it’s subtle – the piano tone is warm and present – it’s an introduction to the introduction…
Nå – Albør Åtte
And now we have new instruments – still fairly downtempo and subtle but there’s a movement to this track – yes – this is about creating space for you – for your thoughts – a warm rhythmic bed, a place to be comfortable in…
Ceci – Abdallah Harati
Hello Guitar 🙂
We’re stealing your attention for a minute. The guitar is an amazing instrument, it can do so much (which we’ll explore later in the list) – but its genesis, for what it is / where it comes from – is to demonstrate groove – to stitch it together – if you’re “in” you’re not even hearing this – but in terms of flow structure this is what it looks like:
- Lower register
- repeat the pattern
- repeat the pattern
- repeat the pattern
- but do it in a way that makes it enjoyable…
Inside Time – Noble Lummox
Hello synthesizer 🙂
Hello full audio spectrum.
Let’s investigate how full our ears can be.
It’s so big – so welcoming – so reminiscent of the beginning of the list – remember – listen for the space – listen for the hits – it’s… – beautiful…
Cálido y Gélido – Julian Kancepolski
A piano bell call,
Picking up interest – but note that – we’re still early – there’s a long way to go yet.
Remember what got you here?
It sounded a lot like this didn’t it?
Yep – so – head back down,
Are you ready?
‘cos here we go again…
Ritorno all’uno – Orchestral – Christian Carlino
Hello Piano and Strings 🙂
Let’s start building this shall we?
More energy – more sonic output.
We’re finding a groove and the groove feels good.
So – a time to check in – are you in?
Do you hear the silence or do you have no idea that it’s there…
Passion – Nightmares On Wax
…’cos now we’re developing things further.
Hello new synth sound – almost underwater, gentle and of course as we get more electronic – we get more groove.
Let’s take this out for a spin – it makes sense – the component parts in harmony with each other..
repeating – consistency – let’s lean back into it – what do you think?
here we go – see you on the other side…
Hello beats 🙂
Starwood Choker – Bing & Ruth
If you were looking for the beat train to continue – well – again – hold your horses – we’re not ready for that yet – we need to condition the mind – to tease it and make the transition seamless and unnoticeable
Solve this with more piano – subtle arpeggios – additional instrumentation fills the space.
We’re setting expectations, creating environments, creating a space to work in:
- Almost – womb like…
The brightness of birth – of morning – of idea manifest
What a wonderful track to work to…
You Wish – Nightmares On Wax
You get all the above?
Sun In Your Eyes – Above & Beyond
This was the genesis track of the list – the track that generated the idea.
It had been on one of my listening lists for a year or more. It was the track where I’d finish a particular creative work and realize it was this track that was playing. It happened often enough that I started to pay attention.
My creative playlists don’t have lyrics as they tend to occupy my language centers and I need those clean for writing – but every now and then a track comes along that breaks the rules. “It’s the sun in your eyes” – I love that wonderfully opaque style of lyric – its interpretation is open to anybody and anything – I have no idea what it means but it seems as good as anything to provoke inspection / internal introspection.
As the track builds I sometimes find myself adjusting the volume down – just a hair – but most of the time, I don’t even notice…
Where Are Your Branches (Where Is Your Fruit) – Oscar Jerome
I love the transition from Sun In Your Eyes into this.
Shocker – a guitar intro!
So – where’s this going?
Are we in Jazz land – full on Fantasy Island?
If you’re not on your own trip by now – come and join ours…
As Heron – To Life
Smart, fuller style.
Underlying groove – leading to deeper underlying groove.
Hello Cello, Strings and guitars.
It’s a holding piece – perhaps you want a bit extra,
you want to push a little further?
Try this – all hypnotic guitars – energetic up with an amazing outro…
aphelion – vivaellipsis
Hello Bells 🙂
Hello Matt :-p
Come on – let’s go build again…
Let’s keep doing it – taking the same behavior and making it more interesting every time we revisit.
Perfect neural music to work to…
Breathe – Weltmusik
I love how this – again – doesn’t follow the standard transition – but makes a point of stating where it begins – not in an outrageous – flow busting move – but in a simple, appropo manner.
It’s sophisticated, assured.
The groove takes from aphelion and builds on it – remember:
Binary Warriors – Humn_Error
You’re still in?
Still up for this?
Let’s fucking go…
Lonely Dream – Drunken Kong Remix – The Archer
You’re a creator.
Doesn’t matter if you work in a team or not,
At some point – the act of creation happens – somewhere in your cortex,
You know this.
It’s a lonely dream,
But not most of time,
Not if you do it right…
Terrain – Halina Rice
Hello synth intro,
Hello staggered introduction of beats,
OK – so we’re still in this space…
Wombat – Zerotonine
Keeping it real.
We ended up here – knows how – and if the beat isn’t providing the energy we’re falling off…
I can’t find the studies but – loose memory from my psychology degree is that – 45 minutes seems to be the optimal length of time to be in a flow state. There’s lots of Pomodoro articles that talk about 25 minutes and a few lunatics out there who reckon they can stay in for 4 hours – but – the regular human – of which I’m happy to count myself – seems to work best with hourly intervals. Hell – even Focusmate builds their longer sessions around 50 minutes – with time for connection at the front and back end – I’m thinking 45 minutes is optimal.
With two back to backs and this playlist taking you through – I know from experience that it’s a super powerful tool – for me at least 🙂 If it’s not your musical taste then there’s a million other playlists out there that I’m sure can accommodate you.
If you’ve read this far, there are three things that I’d like to present to you 🙂
The first is – come and try Focusmate – it totally changed my working life – I think it’s the best thing since – well – sliced bread – or the Internet – or anything that you truly love and think is awesome 🙂 you can book a session with me here or just click through to learn more: https://www.focusmate.com/user/andrew-musicto
The second is – if you have a track you think would work on this list – please let me know – I’d love to hear it. If you can provide it with a solid write up – i.e., some context as to why it works – that would be even better. Use the form below and send it my way:
Third is – if you’re resonating with everything I’ve written – maybe you’d be a good fit for the musicto community? We’re a community of people from all over the planet who love music, but most importantly, who love learning about each other through the collaborative creation of playlists. We’re not musical snobs – we’re everybody, from all walks of life – the thing that defines us is a love for music, a love for people and a curiosity for connection. If this sounds like you – then check this out…