From our archives:
Do you ever struggle to concentrate (and not spend your whole day on Facebook) at work? Many studies show that listening to classical music can help you concentrate (especially Mozart). We picked out some of our favorite instrumental pieces (and some major works from films) to help get you through your workday.
Debussy: Arabesque #1
This is one of my favorite songs to write to. It’s whimsical, airy, and it makes you feel like you’ve stepped inside of a dream (or a Monet painting). It helps me concentrate when I’m feeling frazzled, and it makes the edges of all the work you have to get done seem to soften.
Enya: Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)
Enya is a bit of cheat on this list, because she also writes lyrics—however, in my personal experience she focuses the mind. My teacher used to play Enya for us in the third grade, and that was the year I really felt like I had arrived as a student. So, if this song can get a lowly eight-year-old to concentrate, I think it can certainly bring us to a place of focus as adults (and yes, you’re allowed to repeat “Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away” in your head every so often—or if you’re like me accidentally out loud). Enya’s ethereal voice is sure to help settle your mind. Also, check out classics like “Only Time,” or if “May It Be.”
Hans Zimmer: Elysium
Hans Zimmer has such a particular style of movie score. It’s always sweeping and epic, with that one song that brings the audience in close. “Elysium,” off the Gladiator soundtrack is meant to signify that Maximus has finally made it home. It’s an intimate and soothing song that will help you feel at peace as you work through your daily tasks.
Howard Shore: Many Meetings
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a film score that is as involved and intricate as Shore’s Lord of the Rings scores for the trilogies. The scores (much like the films) are transporting. And “Many Meetings,” will help you focus on the task at hand with its real sense of wonderment at a new and different world.
John Adams: Lollapalooza
Not by the U.S. founding father, but by a famous contemporary American writer. This song, with its adventurous and upbeat arc will spur you on through your work day—especially through the 3 o’clock hump. It sounds like a rollicking adventure through the streets, and maybe it will spur you on to that one project that will guarantee your next promotion.
Steve Reich: Six Marimbas
This sixteen-minute piece is like a delightful, and upbeat stroll, taking you on loop through the circular sounds of the various marimbas. A longer tune that is sure to put you in the zone.
Philp Glass: The Kiss
A mysterious piece, that’s romantic and lush, and great for working through rainy days. And hey, maybe a nice day dream is all you need to keep you motivated.
Hans Zimmer: Under the Stars
Reaching back into the great film scores of the 90s, why not this motivational great from the score of The Lion King, and another Zimmer piece. If you have time to kill, listen to the similarities between The Lion King and Gladiator’s scores. It’s a song all about running towards your destiny and claiming what’s yours (this may just be a metaphor for that last doughnut lying around the break room, but you catch my drift). You know, and if you need to listen to Hakuna Matata afterwards, we’re always here to support you in that life decision.
Thomas Ades: Polaris
Another lengthy piece, this song sounds (much like its name points to) a soaring romp through space—with its moments of danger, and its moments of quiet solitude. Another great song to engage your mind and keep you motivated!
We hope this instrumental pieces will help you get in the zone!