I came across an article on https://eurekalert.org 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.