Music to Write An Essay To
the perfect writing music – get an “a” with andrew
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.
23 January 2018
I’m a big fan of video game soundtracks for writing to – as evidenced here and here – they exist solely to accompany you doing something – and hell – what’s the difference between writing and killing a few trolls?
16 January 2018
Sometimes all you need is a grooving bass line and everything falls into place. There’s just something about the constant motion, the repetition, the familiarity of tracks like this that just make them easy to write to.
10 January 2018
I’m grinning, I’m grinning because I like smart music – I like people who make smart music – I think listening to smart music when I’m writing rubs off on me and makes me a better writer!
3 January 2018
I so don’t want to write this. I’m not ready. I’m still decompressing from a gnarly 2017 and yet – if I don’t write – if I don’t publish – then nothing happens – and I sooooo want something to happen.
18 December 2017
It’s that time of year where the planet gets together to celebrate the shortest day and the promise of a returning spring. Amazingly enough it appears that many religions – by sheer coincidence – have significant events at this time too! The different faiths have their own holidays and dates but the big daddy at this time of year – the one that half the planet will be celebrating – is Christmas – the birth of Jesus.
13 December 2017
Ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? You know what it is even if you didn’t know what it was called – it’s the thing where someone mentions a type of car and suddenly you see that type of car everywhere. It’s the frequency illusion and it’s really cool – you can read a better summary of it here.
6 December 2017
One of the earlier music2work2 tracks, it has been played over 120,000 times on YouTube and has a small but loyal group of people who swear by it. Coming in at just shy of 20 minutes it is one long extended development that goes all over the place and yet still retains some weird kind of identity.
29 November 2017
Me: I need some energy and a boost to help me write
Also Me: Have you heard of RJD2?
21 November 2017
My general rule is that tracks with lyrics are not the best music to write to ‘cos you get distracted by the words – i.e. they compete for space in your language centers – better to not have them around if you’re looking to create your own. However – there’s always the expectation to the rule and this track proves it pretty nicely.
14 November 2017
I know I normally advocate for sticking with one track and putting it on repeat – but where there’s a little more leeway is when you start to play with movie soundtracks. We already have quite a few soundtracks on this list but I surprised myself that I hadn’t yet put up something from the brilliant Cliff Martinez.
8 November 2017
It’s been that kind of month so far – I was reflecting on last week’s Aphex Twin super ambient chilled out track and thinking – my god – I need something similar. However – unlike last week – where I just needed something to calm me down – this week I was ready to work – I needed something to carry me along.
1 November 2017
Sometimes all you need is the calming influence of a ridiculously slow, chilled out ambient track and if you’re lucky, everything quietens down and you’re able to hack through the to do list – or even – start that first paragraph.
24 October 2017
One of the reasons Musicto playlists are different from the soulless things that get delivered to your phone several times a week – is the writing. Think about it – when you interact with a playlist on Spotify or Apple there’s no context, there’s no reason as to why you should listen or what to listen for – it’s just served up, track after track like a great big smorgasbord!
18 October 2017
So this appeared on one of my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlists – which was cool considering it was sandwiched between an alt country track and an EDM remix. So yeah – Spotify for the win! (with human curation added as a top level!)
11 October 2017
I’m being totally cheeky this week and “borrowing / stealing” a track from one of my fellow curators. We have a fabulous new list called “Music to Satisfy Your Inner Jellyfish” and it is as groovily eclectic as the name sounds!
27 September 2017
So I’m hungover as fuck and my brain is working at – like – 2 miles an hour and yet I have soooooo much to do! I could berate myself and slump into self hatred procrastination but screw that – today I’m subscribing to the 7 second rule and moving on. So what do you do when you’ve got to get your shit together – you have words to write – a to do list to polish off and no desire to do anything?
You put this fucking track on – that’s what you do!
20 September 2017
One of the cool things about being a Music to curator is that you get to hear the tracks that other curators have selected – and they’re always bloody amazing. There’s just so much music “out there” it would be impossible to know it all, so to have a group of amazing music lovers hand selecting a track a week just means that we get exposed to the really good stuff!
22 August 2017
We’re in Barcelona, dodging terrorists and finding our work groove. You’re probably just starting or about to start school again – the evil spectre of Essays looms over you.
This track is going to help – here’s the previous write up:
8 August 2017
It’s crazy to think that this was written in 1936 and yet it is one of the most popular pieces of American “classical”music and enhances the stories of some of my favorite movies: Platoon, The Crow, Gattaca, Amélie – the list goes on and it’s always appropriately gut wrenching.
1 August 2017
I love how certain things just start appearing in your world – you know like – if you haven’t heard a certain song for years and then suddenly you start hearing it all the time – I love the weird random shit like that. And while I’m sure there’s some cognitive explanation – I personally think it’s magic and I’m all for it.
25 July 2017
You should probably know by now that I’m a total hippy – that I believe if we all just got to know each other better and hung out and shared our music – that the world would be a happier place.
18 July 2017
Well come on – the series started again this week so it was a pretty easy choice! Having said that – this is a killer track and really rewards repeated listening.
11 July 2017
Essay writing music is essentially Trance music – well, OK – that might be a little broad but really, what we’re talking about is music that you can fall in to, that doesn’t freak you out, that becomes familiar quickly & allows you to get lost in your own thoughts.
4 July 2017
It’s the insistent high hat that makes this perfect for the playlist. I’m all for pure instrumental percussion free tracks – what is often referred to as “New Age” but – there has to be a sense of movement in the track – it has to give energy rather than take it.
27 June 2017
So I’m breaking my own rules on this track but hey – sometimes you just gotta try something a little different – this track has words – not a lot – but definitely a sense of lyric, and yet…
21 June 2017
Alright, we know – it’s summer and you’re all out on break earning dough in shitty jobs or heading south to the good weather – (or maybe even running north – it was 108 here in LA today!)
26 April 2017
The Piano Sonatas of Mozart (as played by Maria J Pires) are an obvious choice to cool down, concentrate and get in a flow.
25 April 2017
The sense of longing throughout Ostroushko’s album, *Minnesota* is remarkable. Any track gets me writing. “North of the Prairie Stars” is a fine representative from this inspired album.
11 April 2017
I’ve been away on vacation for a week – Australia – it was awesome – but – trying to get back into the writing groove has been a bear. Which is why I’ve been particularly stoked about this track. It’s been on repeat for the last hour and I just burned through the first 6 items on my to do list that could have taken my days!
30 March 2017
I love tracks that open like this – there’s an immediate sense of energy and urgency and yet – it’s not overwhelming or overpowering – it just picks you up and gently carries you along. Perfect opening track for an essay writing playlist.
28 March 2017
Anybody who had ears in the early 90’s couldn’t move without hearing this track, it was one of those things that just exploded on the scene and was suddenly everywhere.
27 March 2017
Originally placed on the Music to Grieve to playlist I knew it would be perfect for essay writing too. Put it on repeat and it works brilliantly.
24 March 2017
If there’s one thing I abhor above everything else on the planet – it’s snobs! People who know, or even profess to know more about a subject and who hold it above you like a double edged sword to invalidate how you feel about something. Fuckers!
23 March 2017
Another writer from the PLOS article, this time Ed Yong, Science writer at The Atlantic. He only had one recommendation – this track and here’s what he had to say about music to write to:
22 March 2017
See that big ass Cathedral in-between the two statues, stuck in the middle of nowhere like a ship on the ocean? I sang there. I was a chorister. It was amazing!
21 March 2017
Recently I’ve been finding great writing inspiration in the British composer William Alwyn’s “Lyra Angelica,” a concerto for harp and string orchestra. It has many moods and tones, and both wrenches and uplifts me, soothes and galvanizes me in ways that I’m grateful for.
17 March 2017
I’ve been aware of this album for as long as I can remember – it was only when I got into the whole music2work2 thing that I really started to listen to it.
17 March 2017
Another Steve Silberman track but Man am I digging this to write to. It’s almost 20 minutes long which – to my ears anyway – is a perfect length for essay writing music…
15 March 2017
I like to think of this track like a short sprint – you’ve got six minutes to go from nothing to fully fleshed out idea before the music becomes too overpowering and knocks you off.
14 March 2017
Oh yeah – I remember this one – it’s a totally killer, visual, “set the scene” kind of track.
The instrumentation is awesome.
10 March 2017
If you’re reading this chances are you’re probably in school of some kind and looking for help! If you’re in the library or some common area like a coffee shop, have a look around and see how many people are wearing headphones…
8 March 2017
While many people associate the music with the Exorcist and Halloween soundtracks, I associate it with lying on my back in Singapore, looking up at the sky and playing along with every instrument as the mad Master of Ceremonies Vivian Stanshall announced them.
7 March 2017
I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking me how I write. The simple answer is, I write late at night, with my headphones on, listening to music. These are some songs I really like, especially for writing. They frequently find a place on my midnight playlist. I hope you like them, too.
24 February 2017
I don’t know about you but I’m super suspicious of all the Massage / New Age / plinky plunky “Spa” music that’s out there – I tend to find most of it blandly put together samples with the odd bit of nature sound thrown in for fun. This track isn’t like that.
22 February 2017
I love writing to film scores – to me they’re the quintessential essay writing music – music that was composed to help tell a story! We know that familiar music is good for this purpose as it occupies less cognitive space and you can’t get much bigger than the Harry Potter movies.
21 February 2017
I was listening to the amazing In A Silent Way from Miles Davis (which will be featured on this playlist soon) and was thinking about the whole instrumental horn, jazz, blues, thing and then Battle Mountain appeared in my Inbox.
19 February 2017
The first time I really listened to Trent Reznor was the soundtrack of The Social Network – oh sure I was aware of him – I had studied his marketing methods but had never really listened to his music.
17 February 2017
Zöe Keating isn’t just a killer musician, she’s also a pretty cool human being – which is why she came to mind when seeding this playlist. A consummate musician sure – but she’s carved her own way – with a cello – which when you consider the lack of sharp edges on those things – is pretty impressive!
16 February 2017
You can’t have an essay writing playlist without an Explosions In The Sky track somewhere on there. Often time writing music can be soft and low energy but every now and then you want some driving, loud, energetic piece of music that builds and grows and picks you up with it’s movement so your hands are dancing and fingers flying on the keyboard…at least – that’s what the track did for me while I was writing this!
15 February 2017
I don’t remember how I came across this track but it’s such an easy one to fall in love with.
Obviously instrumental but it has this drone effect in the background – which is really essential for essay writing music as it creates this consistent aural environment that – in my pop psych world anyway – enables you to safely shut out the world and focus in on what you are writing.
27 January 2017
I had never heard of Catrin Finch or Seckou Keita before but I was following a thread inside Spotify that was supposed to be an essay writing playlist and yet most of the music was just – meh! I bounced off one artist into a different playlist, started going down that and the opening bars of this track just grabbed me by the ears.
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 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.