Music for Programming

by Chadwick Wood
December 14th, 2010

This one's for the developers out there, and maybe the designers too. What music do you like to listen to when you're programming or making things? The primary characteristic of music that is good for programming seems to be a lack of words. Any kind of vocals in a track distracts me very quickly (although this might have to do with my childhood as a choir singer). I prefer something that puts me into a steady mental state, and kind of stays out of the way. So, I find myself mostly listening to dance music, or more specifically, IDM (a useful but annoying term). Here are some of my standards:

Burial: Untrue

I'm listening to it right now. It's got a beautiful and dark mood. It does have vocal parts, but they're mangled beyond comprehension, so I don't find them distracting. And, I love bass. The track below isn't from Untrue, but it's a very similar style. Burial, "Untrue"

Aphex Twin: ...I Care Because You Do

Aphex Twin is one of my favorite musicians, and this was the first album of his I really got into. As with all of his music, it paints a very abstract picture for me, of different spaces and tones. Aphex Twin, "...I Care Because You Do"

Prefuse 73: Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian

Instrumental fantasy hip-hop is what I would call this album. I heard something about him mixing together most/all of the album by splicing ampex tape. It's pretty, and spacey (noticing a theme here?). As with most of his stuff, the tracks are short, and kind of all over the place. But the album stays cohesive, nevertheless. Prefuse 73, "Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian"

Autechre: ep7

What better for programming than some of the mathiest dance(?) music there is? In interviews, Autechre often talk about architecture, and I think this album is a good example of why. Something about there compositions puts structure front and center, and establishes a very distinct sense of space. Autechre, "ep7"

What's Yours?

I'm no music critic, but I figured I'd try to share a little. So, what do you listen to when you're typing away? Let me know in the comments.