work

For many people music can help them concentrate and keep them focused on a specific task this applies to studying, working out and many other tasks, however sometimes we ask ourselves, does it really helps with work or is it just a distraction to make something tedious and boring a little less heavy?

It is known that music has strong effects on our state of mind, change our mood and helps the brain release dopamine which makes us happy, but does that really mean we can be more efficient while listening to music? not necessarily, at least not for everyone.

Even though it may not work out for everyone, there is good reason to believe that it can boost productivity while working.

There are a few things to consider when trying to listen to music to concentrate while working.

No Lyrics

Music with no lyrics tend to be a better choice when trying to focus on a task, so anything from classical orchestral music to electronic dance music are definitely a good choice.

Headphones

This may be a bit obvious but when using headphones to listen to music, there is a sort of bubble that isolates the listener from other distracting sounds, this makes it so that the person listening to music, is willingly choosing what to hear while blocking other sounds. The result is that it’s easier to concentrate due to being in control of one of the most distracting factors when trying to concentrate which is unwanted sounds.

Music That You Know

Working with music that is very familiar also helps to concentrate. According to neuroscientists, after recent studies: “The regions of our brain that improve concentration are more active when we listen to music we’ve heard before”.

According to Karen Landay, a former professional violinist and graduate student at the University of Alabama:

Historically, music and work have always been intertwined. Think about romantic visions of peasants singing as they harvest, or sea chanteys sung by sailors as they work on their ships. And since most people enjoy listening to music of some kind in at least some contexts, it’s perfectly natural to feel that music must have some sort of positive impact on our work.

In an article from the BBC, there is a great example of working with music:

Michael Vettraino, who founded the London-based music consultancy MAV music, says the company has helped to introduce background music to several offices. While their main focus is on providing bespoke playlists for restaurants, casinos and hotels, recently they have branched out into supplying offices, many of which are introducing music for the first time.

“Our clients have told us that it’s increased their productivity when they’ve had the right music playing in the office, in terms of staff motivation,” says Alex Hill, who works as MAV’s head of music and operations. They are always careful to factor in the demographics of their audience – their age, etc. – and fit the music to how they’re likely to be feeling at different times of day.

“When you’re concentrating you’ll want calmer, more relaxing music and at the end of the day when you’re feeling tired, you’ll want something more upbeat. We know that a graphic design agency in Shoreditch is going to want very different music to a high street bank Gloucester. But if you get it right, it should hopefully help people to work harder.”

Of course one thing to bear in mind is that there are many factors that make all of this a bit subjective, this means that it’s not something that comes with a set of rules and then it will definitely work, it’s more like something each person has to try and find out how it can work for them depending on the job, the place and the music. It can also happen that after trying to concentrate with music, a person can find that it just doesn’t work, and that’s ok.

In the end, music in the workplace is not for everyone, but it is a interesting aspect of music that is worth trying out.

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There is an ongoing problem about the way we approach to tools or instruments today, which makes us focus more on how to use them rather than understanding how they work.

Some may say that it’s not necessary to know how an instrument works, or how it was made, however the same could be said about music in general. You could say someone is very good at playing, but doesn’t know a thing about scales, notes, and music reading. The point is that, this can stay this way  but there would be more control and freedom for creativity if there is also the knowledge to support the practice. The same goes to the instruments themselves, wouldn’t it be better if you knew how a guitar was made, or how the piano produces the sound it does, or knowing about the difference between one type of strings or another, it even goes as far as knowing about sound waves and materials.

How is sound produced?

There are a lot of vibrating causes, these include vocal cords and strings with tension, but to make vibration there must be a certain amount of tension in the vibrating body. These different vibrations can also be amplified in very different ways which involve different sizes of bodies, mics and more.

Sound can be quite malleable, and to understand its malleability it’s important to know at least a few of the sources.

Strings, percussion and wind

There are obvious differences between each of the instruments that can be found, but first, it’s important to make a first division in these three main categories: strings, percussion and wind.

Strings

These are instruments that sound due to the tension of strings mostly made of nylon and steel. As the vibration area becomes smaller the pitch gets higher, and more space means lower pitch.

This category is comprised of guitars, basses, violins, violas, cellos, harps, and many more.

Percussion

Percussion is all about “hitting” musical notes, this means that they are simple instruments which sound based on size and in many cases tension of leather.

These instruments range from barrels to drum sets.

Wind

These trigger sound with air, more specifically vibrating columns of air. These instruments are played by blowing which then makes the column of air vibrate, depending on its size the pitch is higher or lower, and it gets amplified by the tube.

Wind instruments are

Tuning an instrument

Tuning an instrument is an essential part of playing, not only is it necessary to maintain the right notes, but it gives more freedom as to the sound that we want to make. For example many guitarists use the drop d tuning, which is mainly used for power chords, hard rock, metal; it gives a heavier deep sound but also more possibilities with easy chords.

One of the most beautiful things for many before an orchestra is about to play is when everyone is tuning their instruments at the same time, for some it may be a disaster, but others hear many different sounds slowly falling into a place where great music can be achieved, it’s as if everyone in the room is synchronizing both in terms of sound and mind to deliver an experience.

Computer

Through experiencing music in the digital age, knowing how to manipulate sound to a certain degree it’s almost a requirement these days, and a computer is part of music composition as an instrument, it’s part of production, and a very integral part of the whole musical process. That’s why knowing at least how sound works digitally could help the overall knowledge in music.

There is just something important about getting to know a little bit more about the instruments we use, something beyond understanding how it works and fix it when it goes bad, it’s about getting the whole experience as a musician and learning every detail there is to learn.

 

 

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