Best Background Music For Writing Content
De gustibus non est disputandum.
That italicized quote up there is an old Latin phrase. In modern American English, it’s usually rendered as “there’s no accounting for taste.”
This is true when it comes to the enjoyment and discernment of a wide range of art and artists, food and foodies, TV shows and writers, music and musicians, and on and on and on …
While one person — OK, me — might look at a Rothko and become entranced, another might look at that same Rothko and think, “The ‘Son of Oregon,’ huh? Pssht! I could do that.”
Same goes for certain types of music, especially ambient music, which is what I typically listen to when I’m writing content.
Some ambient music is so minimalist, so droning that those whose tastes run toward more complex compositions scoff at its simplicity.
“I could do that,” they’re probably thinking.
Maybe. Still, ambient (with or without beats) is the best background music for writing content, in my opinion.
That word is important for me and my content writing: background. I need to hear the music when I’m working, but not really notice it. I need it to fill up the air in my office — and my head. (If I’m being honest, there’s a lot of air up there.)
I rarely write in silence; I don’t want to hear the blood rushing through my ears or the tinnitus that I gained from too many years playing too many loud rock shows with too many loud rock bands.
The music should inspire me, invigorate me. It should put me into a creative headspace, carrying me away, so to speak, but doing so without me noticing, allowing me to get into a rhythm that helps me to operate at peak efficiency and creativity.
Whatever it is that I choose to listen to, it can’t be distracting. It can’t make me want to focus on the music. Rather, the music must focus my mind on the work at hand. (Which is why I think ambient is a good choice for focusing on just about any task.)
If there are lyrics, I prefer them to be limited or buried in the mix or indecipherable; I don’t want to be actually registering the lyrics while I’m writing.
Content Background Music: Today’s List
Apps such as Spotify are a music lover’s dream. If you had told the younger version of me that the future version of me would have access to basically every kind of music ever recorded using a device that fits in one’s pocket, my mind would have been blown. My mind is still blown, to be honest.
Notice that I say “today’s list.” That’s because if I were writing this blog tomorrow, my list would be different. This is the soundtrack to the composition of this blog, and I share it with you now.
Notes On Today’s Musical Selections
My favorite ambient-slash-experimental artists tend to be female. I don’t know why that is; it just is. But here are a few notes on today’s selections.
- Christina Vantzou: This music can be melancholy, and for me, this particular album is mood-dependent. If I’m feeling blue, I can get swept away from my work. If so, I skip to the next artist.
- Colleen: Her music is an interesting mix of high activity and subtlety. She’s sometimes too busy and, therefore, distracting. But when the mood is right, she can inspire me to fire off 1,000-word blog posts like this one in no time. Colleen is also an exception to the limited lyrics rule since her vocals are so organically woven into the overall sound.
- Grouper: One of my favorite Oregon-based musical artists. Nobody sounds like Grouper. But her compositions can be — how shall I put this? — spooky.
- Laurie Spiegel: “The Expanding Universe” is immersive, but it can also be a little abrasive, owing to the fact that the album was recorded on vintage electronics, which were cutting edge when she recorded it. This album in particular features music composed on the GROOVE system at Bell Labs.
- Janet Baker, Gerald Moore, Geoffrey Parsons: This collection of Schubert lieder is the oddball choice for this list. It’s definitely not ambient, but it works on me the same way ambient music does. I guess it’s helpful that I don’t speak German since the vocals don’t distract me. It’s so beautifully performed, Baker’s voice sounds just like another instrument to me. Her performance of “Ave Maria” is a little distracting simply because it’s such a ubiquitous, recognizable tune. Discerning listeners may recognize echoes of the intro to “Auf dem Wasser zu singen” (“To Sing On The Water”) in the Radiohead song “Bloom.”
Alternates and Cautionary Tales
There are also ambient “chill beats” and mixes on Spotify and other music apps for those who need to groove out while writing. I use these from time to time, but I find them hit or miss.
Similarly, there’s a risk in playing ambient music on random because Spotify’s algorithm (algorhythm?) sometimes plops new-age music into the mix, which is often rubbish and, therefore, totally distracting.
(Hint: If you hear rain or ocean waves or babbling brooks — anything liquidy — then it’s probably new-age music. I prefer tinnitus. And these are not hard and fast rules, clearly.)
Tastes and Accounting
That quip about new-age music brings us right back to where we started: De gustibus non est disputandum. There’s no accounting for taste.
Of course, when it comes to content writing and digital marketing, there is an accounting for taste. It arrives in the form of data.
We want our clients to rank highly in organic searches, and so we craft compelling content that resonates with search engines and searcher intent.
For my part, I write blogs, web pages, and more to get my clients and their businesses to stick to page one of the SERPs — and stuck in the mind of potential clients and customers.
What do you listen to when you’re writing? I made the Spotify playlist collaborative, so please do add some of your favorites, if you’re so inclined.
Happy listening, happy writing.