Listening & Learning: March

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Listening & LearningIf you’ve ever had a discussion about listening to music while studying, you have surely heard that it can be too distracting or it’s too difficult to concentrate with all of the noise. But not everyone feels this way— in fact, in a recent Facebook survey done by the Athabasca University Students’ Union, 69% of students said they listen to music when they hit the books. According to the informal survey, electronic is the first choice for AU students, followed closely by classical (which we discussed in January). So why not a bit of both?

There is a safe middle zone of listening and learning for people who find that music takes away from the studying atmosphere they need; a touch of electronic with the mood found in some classical music. Indeed, it is true that many people find the ambience of their local coffee shop helps them concentrate. Maybe it’s the small chatter and the minimal noises that keep the studies on track, or perhaps it is the loose, sparse noise that fills ears. This is where ambient music comes in.

What is ambient music?

AllMusic.com defines it as: “spacious, electronic music that is concerned with sonic texture, not songwriting or composing”. It is atmospheric. It is bare. And it can often be stirring.

Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports is, as Rolling Stone magazine calls it, “conceived as background sound for airport lobbies”. Rather than distract, perhaps the minimalism of ambient music can provide focus while hitting the books.

Electronic-rock band Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and his long-time producer, Atticus Ross, have taken an atmosphere and ambience to the motion picture, most recently scoring Gone Girl. The original score for The Social Network won the 2011 Best Original Score—Motion Picture for their cerebral album. Much like what may be needed for your studying sessions, The Social Network score provides minimalism and just enough white noise for concentration, while creating an tremendous background.

Speaking of soundtracks…

In general, soundtracks can often be perfect accompaniments for studying because of their non-vocal nature and lack of receptiveness. We will discuss that in a future Listening & Learning!

What do you like to listen to while you study? We would love to know! Comment below or chat with us on Twitter.

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