When a creative task needs to be done, whether it involves language, music or visual arts, atmospheric music can work wonders. Researchers have seen that a moderate noise level is best, but a slight volume bump can make it very difficult to concentrate. Overwhelming basses and insufferable synths are much more distracting and will do more harm than good.
A recent study shows that ambient noise that included natural sounds, such as waterfalls flowing and waves in the ocean, can improve a person’s ability to concentrate, while masking outside sounds at the same time.
You should always aim for soft, unintrusive background noise to make the most of your concentration.
There are benefits to music with lyrics if you have to take on physical activities or tasks that don’t require much immersion. But for work that requires intense concentration, lyrics can shatter focus very easily.
This is because noise that can be classified as “intelligible”, or words that can be clearly understood or heard, can make for a big distraction. Your mind shifts focus back and forth to figure out what another source is saying. It is also why speech is known as the most problematic elements found in a noisy working environment.
Trying to keep your focus on a language-related activity while listening to a song that has lyrics would then be like attempting to hold a conversation while another person is trying to talk over you with an instrument in hand.
However, tasks that don’t directly involve language as we know it, such as programming or game development, can benefit from lyrics as they often help improve output while working.
Like everything else however, the best type of music for concentration varies from person to person. If you are not a fan of lyricless music, then listening to a familiar or favorite song can be your ticket to absolute focus.
New music can be a curiosity or a source of surprise. Since you are unsure of what to expect, you’re more likely to listen closely and end up distracted. While discovering new sounds can be very beneficial in other ways, a familiar tune can help you get the job done.