Home » Active Playlists » Music to Write An Essay To
featuring artists like:
Fiona Joy Hawkins, Cesium Swimsuit, ODESZA, Flow, DJ Food, music2work2, Cliff Martinez, Moby, Aphex Twin
YouTube was the first place where essay writing music really kicked off. Long form instrumental tracks created the perfect balance of blocking external noise without distracting cognitive centers with words or lyrics. Often falling into the “New Age” category, it wasn’t the sexiest of genres and would never appear on radio but there was a huge and hungry audience.
Many of the tracks on this playlist have millions of streams and views and are very much people’s go to writing music, others are brand new compositions but are great at setting the optimal environment for getting the words out.
Here’s the thing though – there’s no way that every track on this list is going to work for you – it’s likely that you’ll experience some tracks as jarring or too disruptive or even too boring and soporific. The point of this playlist is less about stringing tracks together in a sequence and more about finding tracks that you can put on repeat and get into a state of creative flow – it’s why we generally prefer longer form submissions.
While we cover pretty much all genres and intensities, typically the tracks are ambient in nature, mid tempo and are instrumental. There are some tracks with the odd word or two but there is no lyrical story telling to distract the writer when they’re trying to get their own words out.
24 November 2021
8 November 2021
31 October 2021
I’ve known for a while that the feel of the list was going to change – while piano instrumentals are perfect for reflection and ideation – at some point you need some energetic input to get your fingers moving.
23 October 2021
Today is a good day – a good day for being alive – a good day for remembering that we are not ephemeral creatures – we’re not goldfish – a day to remember how good past experiences were by experiencing them again.
30 September 2021
If you’ve gone to the trouble to create space for an idea to land – you may as well create an environment that will facilitate their capture.
To do this – you need movement.
10 September 2021
24 August 2021
4 August 2021
Ritual – Ritual – Ritual
It’s what’s been running through my mind for a month now and I think I’m almost ready to commit. ‘cos that’s the hard part isn’t it – committing…
31 July 2021
Generally – as a rule – the tracks you find on this playlist don’t have lyrics – the reasoning being that if you’re writing – you don’t need someone else’s words taking up cognitive space. But it’s not really a rule – it’s more of a “best practice” – at the end of the day, tracks make this list if I’m able to write to them and wow – look at me typing…
29 July 2021
11 June 2021
31 March 2021
30 January 2021
New year new start huh?!
Yeah – that didn’t exactly work out for me either – but – but – it’s the end of January and I’m feeling kinda – what’s that word – I used to use it all the time… it’s odd isn’t it – when you don’t use something for a while it removes itself – giving up space to something more popular – but I’m trying to remember now – what was it – oh yeah – Optimistic!…
16 December 2020
Sometimes it’s just so fucking bleak – the past, the present, the future – nothing’s right – everything’s wasted, me included. At times like this – I need something simple, something recognizable, something tangible that I can attach myself to – I need sonic salve.
While the organic opening to this track is rather foreboding, the subsequent six minutes of solid 4 by 4 electronic beats feels relentlessly optimistic…
8 December 2020
There’s music on this list that’s there to help production – to provide an energetic accompaniment to your writing or typing – the tracks are not terribly reflective – they’re there to help an existing idea manifest.
But what if you don’t have the idea? What if your muscle memory is all warmed up and ready to go but nothing’s coming out? How do you write your essay then?
24 November 2020
One of the things I’m always looking out for on the essay writing list is repeatability – for tracks that you can put on a loop and then lose yourself for an hour – or longer. It’s why the tracks on this list skew much longer in length than your average 3 minute song…
18 November 2020
Sometimes all you need is the repetition.
I’ve written about this several times on the playlist – about the psychology of music – about expectation and dopamine and audio hacking and all those things that make music an effective tool for getting shit done, particularly in the creative writing space…
27 October 2020
Here you have two families from Gambia working with a UK producer and together they’ve managed to blend their two worlds into something that is – at least to my western ears – not just accessible, but joyful and intriguing and leaving me wanting to know more about both artists.
30 September 2020
I’m here looking for energy – I’m looking for deep groove – I’m looking for repetition, but not lame repetition – not something that just repeats and takes me nowhere.
I’m looking for a shepherd – a guide, a sonic soulmate that lifts me up and creates the universe while I write it all down…
18 September 2020
And sure – the track may not be for you – and if that’s so – feel free to skip it too – but if the blues, jazz, awesome piano playing and rock solid grooves make you smile – then stick this on repeat
9 September 2020
“My track Sunrise or Sunset was inspired by the creative flow of working from home, being chill and not knowing if the light through the curtains is Sunrise or Sunset but the moment is bliss.”
20 August 2020
I see you – sitting at your keyboard – fingers at the ready, mind cycling with ideas and entry points – starting and stopping as each sentence leads to a dead end.
The idea of what you want to say teasingly present but unformed, elusive and hard to grasp…
23 July 2020
You know when you’re spoiled for choice, when you have so many options that you end up choosing none of them? There’s an interesting study involving Jam that the Harvard Business Review can tell you about – point being – I’m overwhelmed with amazing tracks that I could put on the essay writing list that I just don’t know where to start…
23 June 2020
Some sheer unabashed emotional manipulation coming your way this week ;-p Yep – if you’re tired of your apartment’s four walls, let alone your roommate (or child’s) disinclination to shower – then I have a treat for you!..
18 June 2020
You know those days where for some god unknown reason you wake up and you just know it’s all going to be shit. And sure – we manifest what we project and all that good mental wellbeing stuff but sometimes – no matter how well I rig my defences and man the battlements with productivity tips and inspirational emails – I fail – and so despair climbs over the parapet like an assassin in a medieval movie and quietly slips its blade into my hope…
11 June 2020
I don’t know about you but I’m currently looking for energy – for input, for impetus, for encouragement to start – to begin – to beat inertia – know what I mean?
I’m not looking for complex – not looking for something to take me on a journey – I’m looking for something to help me start my own…
15 May 2020
There’s all kinds of music to write to out there – hell, I’m pretty sure we feature all of them on this list – but there are certain styles that have a direct path to the part of my brain that will get me to start writing. Nick Rezo’s Post London is one of them.
31 March 2020
I’m writing this at the end of March – typically the time when students are turning their minds to final exams and beginning to get into a writing groove. I know this because April and May are peak streaming months for instrumental music.
You’d think that with the Covid 19 nightmare things would be a little different this year – but apparently no – students may not be going into school, but assignments are still in place and exams are looming.
12 March 2020
Habits are weird aren’t they – the ones that are good for you are hard to establish and easy to break while the ones that are bad for you – well – yes – hello smack habit!…
19 February 2020
You know – sometimes – I’m guessing more times than we care to admit – you just have to do the fucking work.
You have to continue showing up – moving the muscles – doing whatever manifestation it is you do – but doing it – even when it brings you no joy.
And that’s a weird ass thing isn’t it?!
31 January 2020
I just wrote something i’m kinda proud of. Not that I’m a big fan of pride – it being one of the seven deadly sins or so – but – i really had to work at this one – it took me a long time to work out what i wanted to say and – in the process of doing that – it changed me and will change my behavior in the future…
17 December 2019
Sadness is the most underrated emotion and often the most unwanted. The expression “Don’t be Sad” is bandied around like a punctured prophylactic when instead we could be listening and demonstrating true empathy…
10 December 2019
I’m all about the wonder of being alive at the moment.
I think this is a good thing – particularly having come off a period where being alive seemed to be a rather depressing experience.
But like any good pendulum – I’m swinging back the other way and damn is it good to be on the planet!…
4 December 2019
While stores and restaurants have been busy hanging decorations the moment the Halloween costumes were stashed away, there’s always been a certain restraint when it comes to radio and how they handle Christmas. Well – I say restraint in that they generally don’t start “Christmas Music” until December 1st – thank God – but after that, restraint goes right out the window as it’s a constant onslaught of Bieber to Band Aid, Bing to Bublé – and that’s just one letter of the alphabet!..
19 November 2019
What are you guilty of?
I’m guilty of getting this playlist wrong.
To be clear – while every artist and track are here on their own merits – this mea culpa has nothing to do with their process – but with mine…
11 November 2019
There’s nothing like falling into a creative hole – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing – whether you’re writing a novel, a symphony or leading a community – it’s never the falling in that’s the hard part – it’s the climbing out that scares the shit out of you – what if you never make it…?
23 October 2019
Sometimes it’s terrifying to create – which is ridiculous really but – sometimes that’s just how it is. I know this is probably more relevant to people writing creatively for a living rather than people writing essays for a grade – but the underlying mechanisms aren’t too dissimilar…
4 October 2019
Not sure how long it’s going to last but I’m still on a beats kick – literally – a snare and kick drum kick. I’ve been running all week and kinda fell off the planet yesterday which has me in all kinds of catch up mode and in need of something to pick me up…
27 September 2019
I’m late into the week – it’s not so much that I’m rushing – more that I’ve been so focused and productive over the last few months that I can feel my body and mind start to wane. And of course – I don’t have time for that – I need to keep going – preferably at the same pace as before and yet – I know it’s unsustainable, so what to do?
20 September 2019
This week it’s about the beats – again!
Soul, funk, hip hop jazz – combine those together and your’e going to get something like Mr. Scruff’s Hairy Bumpercress groove. I love these kind of tracks – it’s been on repeat for the last 30 minutes and my head just can’t stop moving – fortunately neither can my fingers…
10 September 2019
Who’s up for a 12 minute ripping yarn full of danger, hope and heroism? Who’s ready to be carried back to wartime as peaceful pianos, bobbing synths and powerful guitars tell the tale of a legendary ship and its storied history?…
5 September 2019
Alright – we’re picking ourselves up and out from the lethargy of the dog days of summer and leaping – yes that’s right – I said LEAPING – into Autumn. While some people fall back into this particular season, I say HELL NO – it’s time to fall forward – it’s time to move on from the calming tranquil nature of soft piano tones and beautiful soundscapes and into something – how shall we say – a little more energetic!..
27 August 2019
Sometimes one idea is all it takes.
And it doesn’t need to be a big idea or even a terribly well formed one – but from the moment it comes into existence – it can change your life.
Los and Found literally grabbed me by the ear yesterday and said “write about me”…
21 August 2019
I have the best job in the world!
Being so deeply involved in the musicto community I tend to hear all the tracks that are being published each week – the diversity is amazIng and yet – the consistency of quality is incredible…
13 August 2019
I only have one rule for the Essay Writing list – actually – you know what – that’s bullshit – I have absolutely no rules at all for this list. What I do have is general guidelines. Rules – while good for society – tend to homogenize playlists and I’m looking to make this thing as disparate and accessible as possible!…
6 August 2019
Certain tracks, like certain Artists just get under your skin. They’re different from other tracks – and not necessarily in a good way – but you keep coming back to them – like dead Irishmen who live under your skin – they’re in there and all you can do is scratch…
31 July 2019
So I’m going through a phase where the words aren’t exactly coming easy – shocker Huh?! I bet none of you have ever experienced anything like it.
Insert sarcastic smiley face here!..
15 July 2019
You’ve got this!
You’ve got this – you have – it’s right there in front of you…
4 July 2019
As a writer – have you ever just sat down – let the words flow and then without review or editing – hit send?
Of course you have – we all do – and for essay writers – producing something to a deadline – we’re even more susceptible to the need to just “get it out there” – to be done and to move on…
18 June 2019
Do you ever find yourself in a place where you have to do something tedious? Maybe it’s spellchecking a document or changing the name of something you’ve used multiple times and you can’t use find and replace? I just spent the last hour swapping out URLs across the musicto website as we improve our search engine visibility – it’s tedious but it has to be done…
15 June 2019
Written specifically for the Essay Writing Music album from music2work2 – to my ears, Getting Back Together is the least likely track to become popular with the essay writing crowd but – 150,000 streams in the last year or so would indicate that it does the job pretty well.
13 June 2019
It’s all kinds of melancholy at the moment – deaths in the family, struggles with depression, energy levels all over the shop and the desire to self-sabotage sounding more delightful every day. And yet…
There’s always Music…
5 June 2019
The thing with music and playlists is that there’s just so much great music already out in existence I can guarantee that theres amazing stuff you’ve never heard that will blow you away – particularly on a list like this. However – when you’ve listened to all the solo piano tracks and ambient beats with groovy string pads etc – every now and then you’re looking for something fresh to help with the writing process…
30 May 2019
The act of creation is amazing,
I doubt many people look at it and sneer.
In order for something to come into existence,
You have to start,
You have to begin…
16 April 2019
What if you’ve never seen Chinatown? What if Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon are as foreign to you as a trap beat would be to Casablanca’s Sam? What if your only exposure to a saxophone is Lisa Simpson, hell – what if you’ve never heard Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, or Bruce’s Jungleland or even Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are, and hell, what if you have no idea who Charlie Parker or John Coltrane are, let alone know their sound?…
11 April 2019
Another track from the candidates list – but strangely enough not the track that the artist recommended. Which is rare – ‘cos normally you have a listen and decide whether you dig the track or not and if you don’t you move on never to think about them again – but Riley Goltz – or “Memoir” as he performs under, had a secret weapon!…
3 April 2019
I’m clearly in a defined space at the moment when it comes to the music I want to work to or write to – not that I can describe it terribly well but it’s certainly not the classical solo acoustic instrument stuff (although Vin Downes’ acoustic Streets of Sunday did sneak in a few weeks back.)…
26 March 2019
I don’t know how or why this track got into my head and made the list. The odds against that happening were long – the most perfunctory track submission with nary a line on why I should listen would typically result in being sent straight to trash – but for some reason I had a listen…
20 March 2019
Coming in just shy of 8 1/2 minutes it works as that long track you can get lost in
Hypnotic groove that repeats easily so you can play it again and again without noticing
Multilayered and textured – dynamic interest without being overpowering
Underlying beat track that creates and gives energy while remaining structured and disciplined
12 March 2019
Sometimes you just gotta make the doughnuts – I was behind on a gig and was up at 4 to put the finishing touches on before the client session at 9:15. At that time of the day you don’t want anything too overpowering but you do need something to keep you awake – Hello Vin Downes…
6 March 2019
Sometimes you just need some Cesium Swimsuit to take you to where you need to be…
26 February 2019
It’s the key to pretty much everything. Whether you’re learning how to throw a basketball or developing a writing habit (hey – even a meth habit for that matter,) the more you do it – the more likely you are to do it and the easier it becomes.
19 February 2019
I don’t know about you but after the “insanity” that was valentine’s day – I need a rest! And while we’ve spent the last few weeks grooving on beats or counterpoint induced grooves – it’s time to get back to home base with a delicately chilled solo pano track which is – to quote the composer – “nice to write to…”
13 February 2019
Not the literary refutation – what we’re writing about today is the musical construct – the one where you have loads of different melodies all working together yet independently to create something bigger than the sum of its individual parts…
7 February 2019
Damn we use the word “Flow” a lot on this website!
I was looking for an entry into this track write up and was thinking of the whole Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi concept (here’s the wiki page if you’re unfamiliar,) out of interest I searched musicto.com for entries using the word Flow and – well – just check it out – I gave up counting after the first 100 entries…
15 January 2019
It’s raining here in Los Angeles – it does tend to do that at this time of year – the grey months of January and February where the desert forgets that it’s supposed to be dry and warm. And while I love the rain and am happy for the aquifer – damn if I’d forgotten how cold it can make everything!…
9 January 2019
Can you feel it?
No? Not Yet?
Oh but you will – and soon – Finals – they’re coming…
12 December 2018
I’m laughing ‘cos I’m going back through the tracks over the last few weeks and the energy level has been rising slowly but surely – I guess a reflection of just how much external input I need to keep going. Oh – not that it’s that dramatic – it’s just that as we slide into the end of the year I find that I’m pretty knackered and need more energetic music to keep me in the zone…
5 December 2018
I do – I sometimes feel like a song stealer – I sit here every week and listen to the tracks sent in by all the musicto curators – I’m exposed to all genres and types of music and – if there’s a track that I think works for one of my lists – I steal it – that’s right – I steal it – I steal it for you…
26 November 2018
Sometimes you just need an energy boost – something to sit under your flagging mind and raise you up to a base level of competency – at least – that’s what you’re hoping for! ;-)…
20 November 2018
I have the best job in the world! 😉 Not only do I get to curate two amazing lists – this essay writing list and Music to Grieve to, but if you didn’t know – I get to listen to every track published on musicto.com each week. Yes – it’s a tough gig – listening to sometimes over 30 hand selected tracks and reading their accompanying write ups…
13 November 2018
This is the third track from multi-instrumentalist Derek Mount’s Brique a Braq project that has made it onto a Music to Playlist. The first two tracks: Raplapla and Le 4 Novembre were both featured on the Music to Love Piano list and if you dig this piece, I highly recommend you check them out…
30 October 2018
Alright – time to get down with some classic ambient, chill out, new age, relaxing music to write to. Looking for a simple sonic groove that delivers the tranquility of the sunset yet with enough action and interest that it can hold you and take you along for the ride – check out this track from the rather talented Frank Iengo…
22 October 2018
So this week’s track might not work for everybody but good god does it work for me! There’s an expression in the start up world called “Dogfooding,” in essence it means to use your own product and I’m a big believer. In fact – most of what you see at musicto.com and its surrounding digital footprint was built while listening to the essay writing playlist.
17 October 2018
Sometimes you just get lucky – I’ve been running a backlog a few months deep and was about to start sorting through the hundreds of track subs for the essay list and somehow found myself listening to this track from Jon Meyer. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why it was the first one I listened to today but damn I’m glad I did…
10 October 2018
Sometimes it’s all about mood setting – you want the music to whisk you away to a certain time and place by creating an environment you can get lost in. What I love about this process though – is that it’s still totally subjective – the place I go to when I listen to this track is going to be way different than yours – I suspect ;-)…
3 October 2018
It’s time to write…
26 September 2018
Yes I’m on a solo piano groove again – not surprising really considering the genesis of the playlist – it’s not as if I don’t have some really interesting beats and even some noise tracks lined up but – for now – it’s all about the keys…
19 September 2018
Music to write to is such a subjective thing – whether you’re looking for energy, distraction or pure emotional inspiration – what works for me may not work for you. As a result I tend to go for longer form tracks – tracks that you put on repeat so you don’t have a jarring “vibe” change as you move through the playlist…
4 September 2018
Music to apologize to – that’s what I’m calling this piece – The Ocean is the eponymous track from Jackson Love’s 5 track EP release this year – it’s bloody great music to write to – especially if you’re saying sorry…
23 August 2018
Apathy – what a perfect name for an essay writing track!
I’m sure like me you’ve never felt any lack of enthusiasm or lack of concern for your project – no – never – honest…
15 August 2018
Sometimes it’s just too hot to do anything – you know the heat I’m talking about – the humidity is high and energy’s in short supply – it’s as if a dentist on quaaludes is physically extracting motivation from your body.
Yet – we still gotta write – right?…
31 July 2018
I originally had this track lined up for a Save the World! entry later this year, but Cam from Music to Practice Yoga’s June feature sparked the Odesza fever in me and so I had to bump it to the front of the queue!…
25 July 2018
Our writing is our art. And our art is who we are. When we aren’t creating, we’re stagnating, and for a writer that’s not a comfortable way to live…
17 July 2018
My writing journey began, without a doubt, with the Final Fantasy games of the late 90s/early 2000s. Text heavy and without any voice actors, you had to prepared to do a LOT of reading in order to enjoy the story. It was more immersive than any book I’d ever read, and the settings and the characters were so vivid that it wasn’t hard to spend hours lost in the worlds that lay beyond the controller…
10 July 2018
The sun sets over the Himalayas. Spiritual and warm, the golden warmth of the last rays of light sets the majestic peaks ablaze, as ancient voices echo across the slopes…
4 July 2018
Good afternoon class. Your regular teacher is on vacation (he’s gone Saving the World!), and so for the next four weeks, I’ll be your professor. My name is Dr Jenko, and it’s lovely to meet you all…
26 June 2018
Amara, the artist behind Little Sailboat asked me what it was about this track that caught my ear and I remember laughing thinking – you know what – I have absolutely no idea – but if I’m going to add it to the list – I’d at least better try and explain. ;-)…
19 June 2018
That’s the word of the week!
The thing about music to write to is that some times you want a general piece – something to sit in the background that you don’t really connect with – it just creates the environment where you can get your head down and get something done. Other times…
10 June 2018
One week i’m totally adding Gene Autry’s “Back In The Saddle Again” to the list – oh sure it would defeat the purpose of having instrumental music to help you writers out there but i bet you’re all familiar with the idea of returning to something after a break – it’s a weird thing!
30 May 2018
Every now and then you get a track submission which is truly perfect for the list and this week I think nails it! Writer, Composer, Pianist and general all round creative, Ben Hippen recently produced an album – Scenarios that was commissioned specifically to provide the perfect sonic environment for writing. Check out Ben’s initial submission notes:
24 May 2018
I’ve been living with this track for a while – it’s beautiful – and a really good fit for the Music to Fly With Confidence playlist too! It’s one of those tracks that quietly seeps into your consciousness and has you going back to listen again and again.
15 May 2018
So I’m super stoked about this week – we’re trying something a little different – instead of just one track – we’re presenting an entire writing mix – a playlist within a playlist – 1 hour of music lovingly stitched together to create the perfect sonic environment for all you out there who need to get the words down!
8 May 2018
I’ve been grooving on this track for a few weeks now – there’s just something about it that I can’t get out of my head – and that’s a good thing – I think!
A relatively short track for the Essay writing list but it rewards repeat listening. It’s the soundscape that I fell in love with…
1 May 2018
Aaaaah Clarity – that elusive nirvana of the mind’s eye – the state where mental blocks fall away and everything just flows. This intentionally created Chillstep track from UK based producer Matt Jenko moves you through the jungle of information overload and delivers you to a place where execution is easy.
18 April 2018
I realize that I can’t just run with one track from this stunning album – so in the spirit of helping you flow into your writing – here’s a second song from Flow The Group.
It’s the fourth track on the album and normally follows behind our featured track of the month – Flow. Whereas Flow is all underlying energy and movement – Free Ascent is all about space, time, pause for thought and stunning sonic landscapes…
28 March 2018
I’m in love with this track – I’m listening to it on repeat as I write this.
It has helped me outline the post, encouraged me to focus on what I want to say and created a perfect sonic environment where the outside world has disappeared – it’s just me and the text – and it feels great!
It’s the ticking clock.
Oh sure, it isn’t always there – you don’t always hear it, but you feel it – feel it in the same way we all do when something is due – when time is running out and we actually have to create. And make no mistake, writing is a creative act and creating is hard – which is why this playlist exists – to make it easier 😉
20 March 2018
There’s many ways you can use music to help you write your essay. Sometimes you want something that will set a conducive environment for FLOW – other times you want something that evokes a certain emotion or memory – but every now and then – like this week – you want something to give you energy and get you going.
7 March 2018
You know one of my favorite websites?
When I’m feeling like I currently am it’s a definite go to ‘cos when it says “Yes” I can relax knowing that the weird discombobulating shit that’s surrounding me is down to weird ass planetary mechanics and completely out of my control.
The first visual memory I have is that of the white upright piano in Singapore, Hell and the Dark Forces lived at the bottom, Heaven and the Angels at the top, they would play battles through my fingers and I was hooked.
As a psychology graduate I studied how sound affects human performance.
As a musician I compose instrumental music that stimulates your brain but doesn't mess with your language centers, leaving you free to be creative and brilliant without distraction.
As a curator I research how music can improve your life and create flow - I can tell you what music to listen to when studying for a test and why listening to sad music can make you feel better.
As the founder of musicto I’m on a mission to inspire a global audience of music lovers and artists through the development of people powered playlists.