Music and Creativity Don’t Mix?

I came across an article on called How listening to music ‘significantly impairs’ creativity. In the past, I had heard the opposite. Music could actually unlock your brain’s creativity. Of course, your choice of music has a lot to do with whether or not it will help or hurt what you’re working on. Actually, what you’re working on has a lot to do with it too.

For me, it ultimately comes down whether I need focused thinking or diffuse thinking for the task at hand. If I’m trying to follow a logical path (understand a piece of code I didn’t write, or absorb a passage from a book) music is likely to throw me way off. However, if I’m trying to come up with a unique idea or solution (how to code a function or write a piece of dialog) music can put my brain in a diffuse mode and allow those solutions to bubble up to my conscious mind.

What really made me smile about the article was the Youtube video they made for it. Without any spoken words, there was a series of b-roll video clips with text overlays extracted from the article explaining why background music can be distracting. The entire thing was set to background music.

Music to Work By

My musical tastes are extremely varied. Sometimes I’m in the mood for beautiful and melodic, sometimes harsh and loud and other times bouncy and light.

While I’m writing code (as opposed to planning and designing code) or building a map, I can listen to most styles of music but I prefer strong, driving rhythms and either no words, words I can’t understand or words that I know well enough to not have to think about while I listen and work.

This week I brought back a song into my mix from a band called Children 18:3. The song is called Moment to Moment and it puts a smile on my face because it’s just so fun. And it helps the time pass as I’m doing repetitive work.

Every choice before you was a challenge to succeed…
And every breath is a step to forever

Moment to Moment – Children 18:3