You’ve heard poorly informed parents claim that Mozart makes their fetuses smarter. Then there’s the more scientifically substantiated idea that listening to Baroque music enhances your concentration and emotional wellbeing.
More recently, researchers at Stanford discovered that listening to different movements of music in one sitting helps your brain “sharpen its ability to anticipate events” and “sustain attention.” To paraphrase the research study, as soon as a tune ends, the transition period between the first song and the next song triggers a consistent neurological response that strengthens your attention span and improves your ability to anticipate unknown events.
The implications of this study for writers are significant. Being able to better anticipate events correlates with our ability to formulate better narratives and visualize future developments in plot and character relationships. The sustained attention bit speaks for itself. According to reputable Internet (is that an oxymoron?) sources, the ideal playlist for concentration and writing must contain the following elements:
1. The music has to be repetitive.
2. The music has to be atmospheric.
3. The music must not be catchy or mainstream.
The last stipulation is there to shield you from abandoning your writing to shriek Justin Bieber like a banshee in the shower. Some also advocate for the exclusion of non-instrumental music, but I found that muted and/or incomprehensible vocals (distorted by a synthesizer or in another language) work just as well.
Here’s a writing playlist I created earlier this year to meet a thesis deadline.
[8tracks width=”400″ height=”400″ playops=”” url=”http://8tracks.com/mixes/1880808″]
Does music help you write better?