Study Soundtracks: Albums for Concentration

By Helen Walpole

It’s late November, which means dreaded deadline week is looming around the corner, and uni is starting to step up a gear. The phrase ‘all-nighter’ suddenly evolves from the sesh that spills over into your 9am lecture, into the panicked small-hours typing frenzies we all know and hate, fuelled by an equal mixture of Red Bull and shame.

But we’ve got you covered. Here’s a handy selection of albums to keep you focused and productive during the mad writing stints, no matter your music taste.

Electronic: “Black Sands” – Bonobo

a3867404205_10This offering by Essex-based producer Simon Green (a.k.a. Bonobo) is guaranteed to clear your mind and keep you focused. Combining an atmospheric, orchestral soundscape with laid-back drums and minimal samples, it’s got enough momentum to keep you productive, and is light enough on vocals to stop you getting distracted by what you’re listening to. The vibe is chilled and cool, and will soothe the nerves of anyone who tends to panic about their work. As a plus, if you play this one to death, Green’s also got a handy remixed version of the record.

Acoustic: “Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016” – Jack White (2016)

tmr387_jackwhite_acousticrecordings_frontcover_finalWith a grand total of 26 tracks, Jack White’s most recent album is a blessing to anyone who knows how it feels to sit down at their desk, laptop open, staring at a blank Word document with hours looming ahead. The record is packed full of treats from the past two decades, including intimate B-sides and a lot of previously unreleased material, all of it acoustic. If you’re looking for something easy on the ear to see you through a marathon writing session, this is it.


Jazz: “Black Focus” – Yussef Kamaal (2016)

black-focus-artComplex yet accessible, experimental yet funky, Yussef Kamaal’s debut is astonishing by any standards. It’s also perfect for studying: the record doesn’t demand too much attention from the listener, and energy levels are steady throughout, whether during the virtuosic, neo-bebop trumpet solo in ‘Strings of Light,’ or the meandering organ melody found in 9 minutes of sheer indulgence entitled ‘Remembrance.’ And with the word ‘focus’ right there in the title, you can’t go wrong here when it comes to studying.

Hip-Hop: “Views” – Drake (2016)

drakeviewsfromthe6Chances are, Drake’s triple-platinum album ‘Views’ will take you back to exam season of last year, having been released in late April. Triggering the study mind-set by association is a definite bonus, but the record has perks of its own when it comes to burning the midnight oil. The sleek production will keep you chilled out enough to cope with deadline stress, and you can rely on summer throwbacks ‘Hotline Bling,’ ‘One Dance,’ and ‘Controlla’ to keep your study breaks refreshing.


Classical: “Debussy Préludes” – Francesco Piemontesi

v5415-k-debussy-piemontesi-300x300Instrumental classical music always proves a popular choice amongst students when writing assignments, since it offers no lyrical distractions. Francesco Piemontesi’s stunning performance of Debussy’s 24 piano preludes provides an intimate and contemplative atmosphere. Combining this with Debussy’s ethereal compositional style, the result is 80 minutes of rejuvenating bliss, to smoothly guide you through those final few hundred words.


This article was published in our November 2016 issue.

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