The best albums to study to

Studying is such a personal thing, and what you do to help you study looks a little different for everyone. For some, they need complete silence, or to listen to a TV show, or to listen to their favourite pop album.

For me, it has to be something more instrumental. I have to listen to music to be able to focus, but if it has too many words, I find myself getting distracted, (and usually end up singing along) so I need something that can direct my focus, but not divert it. This could look like a classical music album, but for me it usually looks something like Illenium’s album, Ashes. There are still words in these songs, but most of the tracks are just great background music. I find myself more motivated and focussed on my studies when I have that external sound, but because it is more instrumental, I can still hear my own thoughts and it makes it easier for me to harness these thoughts and put pen to paper.

Music can be such a great aid for studying, but sometimes it just takes a little experimenting to find the right sound for it.

Leia Butler

As I reach the end of my degree and (potentially) of my studies altogether, I am taking this opportunity to shout out an album which has had a massive role in my studies so far: The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen. I have had this album downloaded on my phone since I did my GCSEs in 2016, and it has been a constant study soundtrack for me. It’s definitely an exception to the rule: most of the time I stick to instrumental when studying, and I can’t explain why it works- it just does!

Their Oasis-esque sound has always been calming to me, and it’s one of the few albums I can sing through word for word. From the incredibly catchy riffs on Soundcheck to the calm, chilled vibes of Glasgow, for the best part of five years I’ve come to rely on this album when I need background noise. Finding a whole album which helps concentration and relaxation during the most stressful periods of my academic life has been a game changer, and this album will always hold a special place in my heart.

Emily Kelly

There has rarely been a time in my school life, or my education life where I haven’t listened to music while studying. It’s become a permanent, and quite frankly, distracting feature. Often, I’d get far too lost in the music I intended to be distracted from. Sometimes it was too fast, sometimes it isn’t fast enough, so eventually I tended to opt for silence.

More recently, Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon has become a regular feature of my study listening. It was one of the first albums to reject the LP format, instead favouring the newly developed compact-disc. The consequence was 60-minutes of uninterrupted sound. It brings an immediate quality of peace. A soft, gentle embryonic hum sits below the glassy, full acoustic piano keys. What is perhaps so great about this album, is that it creates a profound sensation of stillness. Whether it be an early morning, or a late evening, the album fits, and it warps the space around you.

Eno has long been fascinated by the ability to transform a space, and mould it with sound, and this album is no exception. Initially accompanying a ‘video painting’, it’s meant to pair with visual stimulus: perfect for reading to.

Callum Gray

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Leia Butler and Emily Kelly and Callum Gray

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May 2022
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