August 9, 2008
Occasionally people will ask me what kind of music I like to code by. I'm not sure I am the right person to ask this question of.
Allow me to explain by citing my 2001 Amazon review of a particular album.
It all started so innocently. I purchased this CD on a lark in mid 1998.
Subsequently, I put on this CD at high volume to torture my then-coworkers. It became a running joke. We'd take any opportunity, any pretext at all, to put it on. It had to be played at least once every day for "good luck." We'd force each other to listen to it. We'd have little contests to see who was man enough to listen to it over and over and still silently sit there programming away, not complaining. Sometimes we'd sing along to enhance the effect.
In short: we broke people. It was like a Vietnamese prison camp in stereo.
It was a joke. But then a very strange thing happened -- as I listened to the CD over and over, I began to like it. I mean really like it! I began to listen to it at home on my own time. "There's something about this music", I thought, as I listened to it for the 543rd time. "Maybe it's so bad, it has actually wrapped all the way around and it's.. good again?". I played the album for my wife. At that point I was hooked. I knew all the words to "Having my Baby", and.. I liked it!
For completeness, here's the track list. If you have any kind of musical taste, you may want to look away from the screen momentarily.
- Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree - Dawn
- The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace
- Billy, Don't Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
- (You're) Having My Baby - Paul Anka
- Playground In My Mind - Clint Holmes
- Feelings - Morris Albert
- Sometimes When We Touch - Dan Hill
- The Candy Man - Sammy Davis, Jr.
- Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band
- Torn Between Two Lovers - Mary MacGregor
- Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
- Muskrat Love - Captain & Tennille
(An anonymous commenter was kind enough to create a Mixwit "mix tape" web page of the above songs, if you're feeling masochistic and want to hear them yourself. Or sadistic, I guess, if you manage to broadcast this music to your coworkers somehow. Not that I would officially endorse said action in any possible way, of course!)
In a peculiar twist of fate, one of my then coworkers, Geoff, now works with me on Stack Overflow. He can confirm that what I said above actually happened, although I'm not sure you could make something like that up. Apparently his mind wasn't totally destroyed by exposure to this "music". As far as we know.
While I've mentioned mild forms of coworker griefing -- er, I mean, teambuilding -- before in Don't Forget to Lock Your Computer, I thought this audio form was unique.
What I didn't know then is that this sort of musical griefing had a precedent. It's documented in the 1994 book Show Stopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft. I didn't get around to reading this excellent book until 2004, but it's right there in black and white:
[David] Cutler camped in the Build Lab now, scrutinizing the check-ins, so [Kyle] Shannon wanted him to be comfortable. After further musical experiments, he finally hit on a sound that pleased Cutler. It was a raucous album by the rock group Journey. One morning Shannon slapped on Journey, and heavy metal sounds filled the lab. Cutler started bobbing his head, humming to the cacophony. Shannon smiled. Nodding gratefully, Cutler promised to share with the builders a couple of his own favorite albums.
He didn't have any favorite albums, but he saw a chance to relieve tension. That night he asked his companion, Deborah Girdler, to visit a CD store and buy something "really bad." She returned with two discs: Jim Nabors (star of the 1960s TV series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) singing gospel tunes and the fantasy characters Alvin and the Chipmunks singing children's songs. Perfect, Cutler thought.
The next day Cutler treated his builders to Nabors singing "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," "Onward Christian Soldiders" and other hymns. When Cutler sang along, everyone cringed; it was hard to tell which was more loathesome -- Nabors gone gospel or Cutler gone musical. No one cheered when Cutler asked to hear the Nabors disc over and over again, day after day.
Before long Shannon and the builders regretted ever awakening Cutler's musicality. They finally hid the Nabors disc on the floor under a desk. When Cutler asked for it, Shannon invariably said "It's in my car." Cutler, who caught the lie, laughed and laughed.
So the next time you ask one of your fellow programmers to put on some background coding music for the team, think twice. That's all I'm saying.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to slip on my headphones and get back to coding while listening to one of my favorite albums, The Transformed Man.
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me ...
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Worse than listening to music that you don't like is listening to music you don't like blasting out of headphone!
My coworkers and I used to do essentially the same thing with the first Spin Doctors album. We called it Spin Doctors Sunday.
At one office, we actually had Opera Friday... All opera, 7am to midnight.
...I think I still have nightmares from that one.
For me, programming music needs to be on the mellow side:
any score by John Williams
But I know some people who listen to hard rock (even death metal!) constantly while programming.
I find programming quite hard. If I listen to music and try to program it gets harder. I simply cannot fathom why anyone would want to distract themselves whilst doing such mentally challenging work.
Now, noise cancelling headphones used in order to get complete quiet I can understand.
Once upon a time, I worked for a big telecom company, load-testing their next applications.
The thing is, while you wait for the result of a test, there's not very much you can do.
So, the guy with time on his hands would play the first few seconds of a song (a regular song, a cartoon opening, a movie soundtrack...), and the first in the room to state the name would get one point.
At the end of the day, we would count the points, and the winner would buy drinks for our little group.
Best game ever. At the time, we had a 250Go hard-drive full of MP3s just for that.
Back in 2000, in my first room at my office, I was the only one with a sound card, and when I was asked to put on some music I tuned in a Country web radio, for the horror of my roommates - Country music is not so popular here in Italy ;-)
In this period, I alternate the following themes, depending on my mood:
- 80's love rock songs (Bad English, Survivors, John Waite, REO Speedwagon, ...)
- Animetal, a Japanese heavy metal 70's anime cover band... can't live without Mazinger, Grendizer and Daltanious... who's the sick one now? :-)
- Red Bank Night, a Springsteen / Bon Jovi live concert from 1998
Overall, I agree with what Anders said: if you pick the music for your mood, it's a great productivity boost; random music is just annoying.
Anything new is too distractng, and removes my mind from the problem at hand. Loud rock when the going is good, something gentle when things are tricky.
If I am just hammering out simple code that has been planned well (i.e. designed), then some of my favorite music will often help me flow, but when working on something that requires full concentration, music is often distracting
I've thought a bit about this lately. I like listening to movie soundtracks because they don't have any lyrics you can concentrate on. Instead you focus on the programming. And, as Mr Latt said, there are two situations; If I know exactly how to solve the problem and I'm just hammering out the solution, then I want something like loud rock (something fast), but when I need to solve a problem, then I need to listen to something slow and quiet.
So I've thought about making a playlist kinda program that measures the number of keys you press per 10 second. Then it matches the music played with the speed you are typing; if you type fast, fast music is played, if you type slow, slow music is played.
I consider it a deadly sin to play background music that your coworkers can hear, unless they all explicitly asked for it. It doesn't matter how good or bad the music is, when some difficult problem needs my full attention then it has to be fairly quiet around me. I do listen to music when I can (compiling!), but always using headphones.
Sure you can put on a Barry White CD as an office joke, but having to listen to it all day should be banned by the Geneva convention.
As for the real topic, when I do something easy but tedious, I like to listen to music I know very well. I don't have to concentrate on the lyrics or the music, it's just a background tune. It helps me getting in the zone.
Music to watch code grow by:
1. When trying to resolve an unknown issue: Classical (Mozart/Beethoven etc).
2. When trying to do a well known repetitive task but quickly: Dance/Trance/Rave (no words)
3. When trying to fix a problem you know the issue to but need to work quick: rock.
I use different music for different things.
Great album. At least 2 or 3 of the songs are ones I've always loved.
I'm really sick.
(Okay, many actually suck more than death itself)
PS: My rule for coding music is anything at all that you are really, really used to. You really just want to make sure that it doesn't make you stop and think or anything.
Something strong and fast helps keep me especially awake and motivated (Used to LOVE coding to entire Devo albums--wore cassettes of three different DEVO albums OUT).
Also had one project that pissed us off so much that we made our theme song Break Stuff (Limp Bizkit)--we threw it on every morning to get us in the right mood.
man, what is your excuse? the doctor you need is dr kavorkian to releive you agony. i use bbc cnn or my collection of podcasts as back ground. speaking of which, what happened to the stackoverflow podcast?
Ha. I remember the early days of our department (two of us programmers tucked away in a corner of the main office); the admin girls who occupied the rest of the office (spending the day doing mind-numbing data-entry) insisted that they had to have Radio 1 on all day or they'd go mad with boredom. Words cannot express how much I now hate Chris Moyles and asinine DJ chatter in general...
We used to get our own back by having shouting matches about the relative merits of database schemas; eventually we got our own office.
Aside from that, I find that Gregorian chant creates the right note of mysticism around the whole coding process :)
Funny, I've had a similar conversation with other developers about what music is best to listen to while coding.
My personal favourite is something mellow but funky without much lyrics.
I found an album called A night at the playboy Mansion to be absolutely perfect for this !
I listen to last.fm and set the tags to whatever I'm feeling at the time. Like others have already said, classical when I'm trying to concentrate and rock when I'm speeding along.
Hey.. Mister!... Tambourine, Man, play!.. a song!.. for, me!
Since you introduced me to Flight of the Conchords, almost nothing else has graced my headphones. Thanks man :)
Of course, any Brit of a certain age (er, like me, if I'm brutally honest) will know that Billy was originally a Paper Lace track, but the Donaldson cover (of which I was not aware for obvious geographic reasons) was released first in the States.
As a quintessentially ghastly 70's pop group, I think having two Paper Lace songs in the list is entirely appropriate.
Yay the Lace!
Oh, and damn you to Heck for putting that song back into my brain.
Being both a programmer and an amateur musician (www.voind.com), having any music playing reduces my productivity in more than half.
Whenever I listen to music (new or old) I disassemble it, analize it, stare at it, examine its structure, the way everything works together, the emotions it triggers, etc... Too much to still stay focused on coding. In fact when I am listening to music it takes me all my mental capabilities
It is like having a couple making love all day next to you while you're coding. Depending on how much you like that activity it would either distract you and/or make you sick and tired of that at the end of the day.
I am moving to another job and one of the my requirements was to have a music-free environment.
A fun/funny post today, Jeff. Thanks. I spent my childhood listening to that music. Imagine being exposed to that stuff as a child. Maybe that’s why I rarely listen to music, and when I do it’s almost always jazz.
http://somafm.com/ is my favourite.
Groove Salad Beat Blender are the best for me, also Drone Zone works if I want something that is guaranteed not to distract me (no lyrics, usually no beat).
Well, when you suffer dyslexia, -which is not as we think in France an excuse disguised in a pathology- you focus more easily when doing more than one thing at a time. So when concentration for programmation is required music is a must have.
You would think people having problem in reading/writing should not be oriented at first to computer science.
But even though we do make more than average spelling mistakes ( = instead of ==, forgeting to close ), doing poorly under exams-like conditions, and get stuck with easy problems, we are not disabled people. It seems we are just different ; we do think differently thus we can for instance solve naturally some problems others can't.
Therefore music is one of my everyday working tool just. And I guess I am not the only one.
Still thinking that open space is a great productivity crusher because they are so noisy and they higher the probability someone is gonna interrupt you while you have one phase of pure concentration.
For most people I don't think music is the solution but instead that open spaces are the problem.
I'm quite happy that the radio is on a channel I like.
Having to hear bad music all day, that's just depressing...
Hey! What’s wrong with Starland Vocal Band?
Usually I listen to Digitally Imported online radio, Vocal Trance section. I've listened to this station for something like 3-4 years so I know most songs they play. Some may consider this type of music really cheesy, but I love it when I program. The words don't bother me at all.
Surely there is no more sublime coding song than:
Clubbed To Death - Rob D
- High tempo makes you work faster
- No lyrics to distract you
- Strong beat which you just have to time with each hard return
I tried to code to Led Zepplin once... wow, that was a BIG mistake!
I can listen to music while programming only if there are no vocals. I don't know what it is about the human voice; it seems as though it engages your brain on a subconscious level somehow. If there is any singing with the music, I completely lose the ability to focus.
I don't often work with other people, and in this case I think it's probably a good thing, a quick look at my *current* play list (party shuffle) in iTunes looks like and you'll understand.
The last time I had someone here they nearly went nuts.
Forget about music. I dont like hearing music anyways. I put my VLC-player in the taskbar and listen to TV-Series like Magnum P.I., Seinfeld or a recorded documentary. You cant catch much of the plot, but it is a nice background to listen to.
Zeppelin's Presence is great to code to, I recently discovered.
Mauro, you must be a musical kindred spirit, you do exactly the same as myself! For (2) check out Mouse on Mars, Stewart Walker, Delarosa and Asora, Baby Mammoth, Ott, Tripswitch. For (1) check out Kino, Frost's Milliontown, Ozrics of course and Enter Shikari.
While we're on music - can anyone recommend classical music that would appeal given an interest in symphonic prog rock?! I should add that I think Overture to Marriage of Figaro is an amazing piece.
I can't bear to listen to any music while I work - it's too distracting. I've tried every genre and they all interrupt my concentration. I used to think I was strange, given how many programmers do listen to music while working, but then I read a quote by Milt Kahl (http://legends.disney.go.com/legends/detail?key=Milt+Kahl) who, when asked what music he listened to while working, said I’m not smart enough to do two things at once. I guess I'm not smart enough either.
I usually have Internet radio running. Right now I like listen to Japanese radio. Why? Because I don't understand a word. This might sound stupid, but when I can understand the lyrics, my mind starts listening to them, this distracts my focus from code to the lyrics... bad stuff.
But since I don't speak Japanese, listen to Jap. Music is like listening to orchestral music without lyrics at all :-) People are saying and singing something, but I usually have no idea what they are saying or signing. And I like this JPOP sound - though it's not all pop music. If you like really hard heavy metal, search for the Japanese band Maximum the Hormone (there are some music clips from theme on YouTube); I like these guys.
(that means great, often used as cool - okay, maybe I understand a couple of words)
Great set of tracks, I can't stop laughing while listening that ... you made this Monday much more bright! I have to try to break coworkers in my office as well! :-)
Thanks for the Mixwit link. Love that music. Of course, if someone started pumping ANY music out across a programming pen, I'd have to quit. You want music, use some headphones.
@Mecki: Check out Groove Salad on www.somafm.com. No lyrics, just wonderful soundscapes.
This brings back memories, Jeff... horrible, horrible memories.
In 1995, the only guy with a sound-card in our office would play Mr Tambourine Man or, worse, so much worse, Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds at least once a day, whenever he felt we were coding too productively.
The Swedish Chef from The Muppets, making Chocolate Moose, was played at least twice a day.
At least he only played Leonard Nimoy's recordings on rare occasions.
congratulations, youve discovered that musical taste is largely a matter of exposure, which is exactly why criticising musical taste in the first place is idiotic since its so intrinsically subjective. if the rest of the world was willing to subject themselves to this sort of thing perhaps wed have less sanctimonious fucktards running around.
I listed to some of the mixwit of those songs. Ugggg :(
A few of them were OK, but some were REALLY bad. I'm glad I didn't work in your office -- I would have had to change jobs.
About 10 years ago I had a project on such an unrealistic deadline (they set the deadline before anyone even could define the feature) that managment let me work from home so I could put in 14 hour days for 2 weeks straight.
One of the songs I listened to was Time Is... (ticking away) http://tinyurl.com/67yxbd by DC Talk. Guess I listened to it was on their Free At Last CD, but somehow, Time is ticking away just meant a lot to me.
Muskrat Love may be the worst song ever constructed.
I had my friend compose music to code by..
you can listen here : www.specialdirt.com/music.html
particularly Grateful at 3am
Maybe it's just me, but I'm still amazed that we aren't allowed to listen to music here. It's written somewhere in the employee handbook that listening to music on the job is unprofessional. Or something to that effect. All I know is that I earned myself a good a$$-chewing when I left WinAmp open on my machine after lunch, and my boss happened to walk in and see it on my screen. :(
Whoa, those Windows NT guys are wild and crazy-- blasting that raucous heavy metal band Journey in the server room. Watch out for these guys at the office xmas party!
Listening to trance music makes me more productive. I've also come across other mentions of trance music as a productivity boost. I suspect it may be because the music does not require much attention and energizes you with its fast bpm.
I always listen to ambient music (Brian Eno, Boards of Canada, etc.) when I'm doing any programming. It's perfect music because it's just enough not to distract from the task at hand.
Starting about October, a past coworker of mine would start playing some wretched Christmas song by 'The Waitresses'. It would go non stop until new years. It gets in your head no matter how much you hate it, and you find yourself humming it everywhere you go no matter how much you loathe yourself for it.
Another vote for SomaFM, tho' I prefer the Space Station channel. The electronic soundscapes really help (me) set the mood for working at the computer.
BTW Jeff... since you are Shatner fan... get the 2004 'Has been'. His rendition of Common People is in fact awesome.
Regarding music to code by, although I am probably the same crusty age you and most of the readers, I will have to tell you that solid progressive trance is one of the best things to code to... and maybe a bit of Rammstein
My coworker uses Jingle Cats. His office shares a wall with our boss (CIO) and it just about drove the guy nuts. Meanwhile, my coworker is sitting there cranking it up all the time.
My coworkers and I used to have an End of Day mix that included Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back.
It became a unifying trend that really helped ease stress.
I love listening to music while I code. I've been listening to Phish - A Live One since I started playing with QBasic. It's a great cd (2 cds) that just plays on in the background for hours. On the other end of the spectrum, I like Rage Against the Machine at high volume. Since I'm very familiar with their music, it doesn't distract me at all. I suppose you could say I grok RATM. Good times...
A few years ago I sat across from one of the network guys and he would play John Mayer over and over. I hate that guy now. John Mayer that is and the network guy a bit too.
What could be better to code by than an album written entirely by a Software Engineer?
I hate to shamelessly self promote my own stuff, but instrumental music is proven to help concentration and I wrote and released an entire instrumental album by myself, playing all the instruments and mixing it all using Cubase.
Check it out, a lot of my friends code to it. I only tried it once and I couldn't get over I wish I had done this, I should have tried this instead, etc.
I accidentally posted this on another article first, sorry about that.
This may be an unpopular opinion - but everyone I know that is constantly listening to music while they code are slow and unproductive. Furthermore, on the flip side, the people that don't are more focused on thier work and are more productive. I've noticed the productivity difference within myself as well. If I have music on, without headphones, at a very low volume - it makes good background noise and I can still concentrate. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but I believe that we are a culture obsessed with entertainment, and this tendency of people to always be listening to music is a major sign of that. People used to think clearly and concentrate a lot more than they do now. Think about how much you could have done/learned/experienced if you would take your headphones off once in a while and keep your TV off in the evenings.
I used to work in the military and deployed many times oversees, usually under the command of a slightly twisted captain who controlled the little operations room I worked in with constant harassment and intimidation. One night though, me and a few of my comrades were forced to work very late to finish up a project, and we were all extremely tired and stressed out. Our boss, though, shockingly, seemed to be in a rare good mood, and he asked us if we'd like to listen to some soothing music to cut down on the tension we were feeling. For a moment I thought, is it possible this man has a heart, after all? There was a cd player in the corner and he proceeded to put in Blues Traveler. I thought, well ok, I don't really like Blues Traveler, but a little music is better than dead air.
However, what we didn't know is that throughout the entire night, he would play the single Run-Around over and over again, continuously all night long! By the second hour that song became a chisel that constantly pounded into my head, making me wish I were temporarily deaf.
Now, of course, I hate that song.
Somehow, even when facing REALLY SERIOUS problems when working, listening to music is much better than the void of silence. Music helps me (and the people around me) loosen up, and that's a huge moral boost.
Besides, group music helps the group integrate better. It's really fun!
The biggest comment I have is about the excerpt from Show Stopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft..
Journey is Heavy Metal?!? I guess this would place Elton John and Kenny G into the Hard Rock category? rofl!
With comments like that, in a book, no less, no wonder we geeks are always portrayed as being out of touch with normal people in movies, etc.
I telecommute, so I don't have to worry about bothering co-workers with my music. I usually like to listen to music with non-english lyrics, so I don't get distracted by the lyrics. For heavy debugging sessions, I like raucous West African music.
I used to listen to Mortal Kombat soundtrack... It put me in the mood to code, or FINISH someone..
I listen to my hand-picked rock/metal playlist at Finetune. It keeps me happy in an otherwise dark and dingy world. I highly (and biasly) recommend it. It also sounds good at high volumes.
And funny...I just dug out my Mortal Kombat CD the other night at home. That was a pretty solid soundtrack and probably did better than the movie.
I seem to recall recently reading about a study that found that Developers listening to music had higher rates of bugs in their code than those that did not. Unfortunately I cannot recall where I read that. I'll do some Googling and digging through my notes to see if I can find it. If true, its the type of thing one might expect to see as a Coding Horror in Steve McConnell's Code Complete.
I personally listen to classical music. If I listen to anything with words, or any Jazz which I love, I start concentrating on the music rather than my coding. Classical music blocks out the background noise, but does not distract me... unless its Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain or anything by Tchaikovsky.
What's almost as bad as having to listen to those awful songs is to have one of them stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Attack of the killer earworms! Yikes.
I like ambient music at work (e.g., Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream). Doesn't require my undivided attention, so not distracting. And not enough melody for any of it to stay in my head later on. :)
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree - Dawn is a pretty nice track, though
i can see myself driving towards the sunset on a desert road, as in the end track of a movie.
:D brings tears to my eyes :D
At track 4 my soul broke in two and i stopped listening. Thanks for this all time classic
Muskrat Love - Captain Tennille
OMG. That reminds me: Back when I was in 4th grade (before I developed any taste whatsoever) I spent my allowance money to buy K-Tel's album Muskrat Love. Sadly I can't find a playlist from it online, but it was filled with songs like that.
Dang. I thought I'd forgotten that. I guess I'll have to work harder. :-)
Nothing like a little light Classical or even regular Classical to put me in the programming frame of mind. Sometimes I rock to the 70's and 80's too when I'm really getting things done... but if I need concentration, Classical assists me when it's on low.
I forgot to mention, varying kinds of techno can really pep up my attitude when I've been staring at the computer for so long. So, here's my run down:
Piping up: Techno
Mellowing out: 70's - 80's Rock
Journey is Heavy Metal?!? I guess this would place Elton John and Kenny G into the Hard Rock category? rofl!
Its all a matter of persepctive. Back in the late 70's they were considered that (what can I say, it was a horrid, horrid time for music). If you look at the soundtrack to Heavy Metal, you'll see Journey on it.
I used to work at this consulting shop in Morristown, NJ and for some godforsaken reason the guy running it hooked together the phone hold music with the music playing on the speakers throughout the office. Not to mention this probably being a violation of the radio station's terms of service, but what was played on one and hence both was a little radio station located in the NY area on your dial as 95.5 WPLJaaay! The shittiest brand of pop music, repeated basically on the hour, over and over again. It was hell. I know the words to most Mariah Carey singles and I want to die. At the time, I was too poor/straight out of college to afford a good pair of noise canceling headphones, but who wants to work in a headphone dungeon 8 hours a day anyhow? Memories.
I usually just throw on some U2 while coding. Nothing exotic, but it works.
code to Bach; anything else is a waste of time
I listen to trance, electronica, alternative chill, etc... These forms of music are what I call brain massage.
Thanks for including reference the Shatner album as it helps me rid my head of Tie a Yellow Ribbon (which began playing over and over in my head as soon as I read your post)
You Klingon bastard... you killed my son!
I guess I'm the Michael Bolton around here. I like to listen to rap music (not radio-play rap, but straight up gansta rap). When I'm in the zone, I usually don't notice the music playing, however I still think your brain hears it. I love programming, however there are many times where you just find yourself doing mundane tasks, and that music just get's me amped.
The local classic rock station used to have an annual All Time Worst Song contest and inevitably the 3 finalists were all from the Shatner genre, e.g.
Shatner's Mr. Tambourine Man
Leonard Nimoy's rendition of Proud Mary
George Burns singing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
I started working in my current company about a year ago, and a few weeks later I started sending to some jobmates my own selection of music: a different song each day (well, I don't send the song but a link to a mp3 file in a shared folder).
8 h 35 min of music so far, songs that are somehow special for me. For me, that's the best music for programming.
when I was asked to put on some music I tuned in a Country web
radio, for the horror of my roommates - Country music is
not so popular here in Italy ;-)
It isn't as popular as you might think where I am at either... Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Personally I like to code to dance, techno, electronic, or ambient. Pretty much anything without too much in the lyric department to distract me.
Music that is distracting is hard to code with.
For me, this is anything with vocals in it since i tend to concentrate on the words a lot.
a lot of laid back electronic music that is repetitive and not annoying is good to listen to since it puts you in a consistent flow that can resemble a hypnotic trance.
I've listened to a whole lot of music where I work and I find classical the best for programming, it just seems to stimulate the brain in the right way for writing code at least; my brain.
I've also found that volume has a lot to do with distraction, the higher the volume the greater the distraction.
Since one has to play rock a high volume levels in order for it to sound decent and classical can be played at much lower volume levels in order to sound decent then this may have some effect although, I play classical when I’m programming at high volume levels and it still does not distract me.
The one thing I cannot listen to while programming is rap; It just continuously breaks my train of thought…
For long hours deep, it's all Radiohead all the time. Get some concerts on http://bt.etree.org, incidentally.
For fixing problems, I shuffle through my whole catalog.
I agree mac. I get sleepy without the vocals though so I opt for opera. Since I don't speak Italian or Russian or French I do not even try to listen to the words and yet it has much more energy than light jazz or muzak or classical. I know that there are high energy instrumental pieces out there but those just make me want to shut down and go outside. Too much energy. Same with the techno stuff. I'd think about going to the club instead of work.
I listen to Slay Radio through a shoutcast stream. Remixes of old Commodore 64/Amiga classics. It's perfect for coding, and they have a great live show called The Sunday Service where Reyn Owenhand takes requests from IRC - he will play pretty much any song in any style with a full set of instruments and a looper - LIVE! (http://www.reyn.net/)
Dude, what's wrong with you? The Night Chicago Died is an absolute, unshakable classic.
That 70's song selection does suck a lot. I listen with headphones to Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam and Live.
I have headphones on all day because our technical support department is in the same room. We're all in cubicles and the headphones are the only way I can block out the conversations of my coworkers. I find that listening to anything with a good beat and no lyrics works best for me. I'm currently on this Dance/Electronic kick. We'll see how long that lasts.
This post, and comments, is a real eye-opener! I thought all us, ah... senior, coders were Dead Heads!
I feel compelled to add my 2 cents to this already burgeoning list of comments - finding this article hot on the heels of a debate in my office of the pros and cons of an office jukebox.
I prefer silence to work to, but failing that anything minimal, electronic, with no lyrics. Something metronomic just ticking away in my headphones is fine. (As I type this, I can *already* hear what sounds like Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree on the office stero in response to this article I just forwarded. What have I done?!!!) :D
I live in a fraternity with 6 other people. This music can't even get to me.
I listen to all varieties of metal when I code. My playlist is massive and I just hit random and let it go. If I am in a team environment I'll either use headphones or turn the volume so low the only way to hear it is to be sitting in my chair. Music for the most part though helps. My roommate listens to beats, so you can imagine how incompatible his music taste is with mine, but whenever he has his music on loud it doesn't bother me at all. Sometimes I even prefer it when coding.
Only instrumental music played here at Smurf Developer Central. Lyrics cause the brain to wander too much. Don't care if it is 'classical' or instrumental bluegrass, as long as there are no words.
All that other stuff is ok... But The Transformed Man?
That's just wrong....
I'm partial to Schoenberg's piano concertos, myself. The atonality seems to help with the distraction -- most of my little mental micro-thought-trains that wander off from work get caught by the music, and dumped back off onto the work a moment or two later. Tonal music, even Bach, doesn't quite do that for me, and anything more than the piano is distracting.