UPDATE: Part 2 added with more study music added. Check it out here.
If many of you are like me, you have issues studying to the music to which you normally listen. Or at least for me, I have issues studying to music with lyrics. It tends to distract me and draw my mind into the lyrics and out of my study material. The silence of simply studying sans music just makes the experience worse. So how can we rectify the problem? I have compiled a list of my approved studying music complete with tracks for your sampling pleasure.
Sigur Rós - Takk...
This is my classic study CD. Ever since I bought this album when I was a senior in highschool, it's been a constant in my study rotation. The music is soothing and moving, yet it still has a little flair to it. There are strings aplenty but still guitars and drums. They're a very unique band that is worth checking out. And the best part? There are still vocals to it, yet they pose threat to concentration because all of it is sung in Icelandic. Beyond that, a lot of the songs even sung in Hopelandic, a language made up by the band.
As far as other material from Sigur Rós, I can heartily recommend both ( ) (yes the name of the album is simply a set of parenthesis) and Ágætis byrjun though the latter can get a bit heavy for studying purposes. Their latest album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, is actually really good but I've found it unfavorable to studying because of its rhythms. Further back in their catalog also produces some really good songs, but their music was much more avant-garde.
Balmorhea - Constellations
This particular group is a new addition to my study arsenal. Also, I must admit that the widget above is actually from the CD River Arms because Constellations isn't up yet. River Arms is a close second to Constellations because some of the tracks on it are just stellar like "Lament" and "The Winter". The issue lies however with the fact there some sour tracks like "Process" that distract. Constellations is solid the whole way through. This music is voice-free and much more orchestral. Constellations has a much more peaceful pace to it as compared to Takk.... It sometimes slips into the subconscious and is nothing more than pleasantries that slip quietly in one ear as you try to overcome your writer's block. The music is primarily composed of a violin, piano, bass, and cello. There are some other interspersed guitars and even banjos, but nothing to rouse you from your studious state.
As far the back catalog, I'm not entirely familiar with their work. I only have River Arms and Constellations but I can only imagine that their other works are just as stand out.
The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers
This band is another one from the archives of study music. A Chorus of Storytellers is the latest album from chill-electro mainstays The Album Leaf. I only listened to their album A Safe Place while I studied my freshman year of college. This music is a little unique in the sense that there in fact some lyrics on some of the tracks but for some reason I haven't been distracted by their presence. Their music is much more electronic and makes extensive use of sampling. It's certainly one of those you'll understand as you listen to more of it.
I can fully recommend both albums In a Safe Place and Into the Blue Again. Like previously stated, they've been staples in my study rotations previously. "Window" from In a Safe Place is among my favorite songs.
Christopher O'Riley - True Love Waits
Among all my study music, this has gotten the heaviest rotation. This is just pure piano bliss. And it's piano bliss in the best way: Radiohead style. The whole CD is Radiohead covers played on a lone piano and it is just wonderful. Even if you're not a huge of Thom Yorke and his merry men, the ethereal vocals, or the screamin' guitars, most can appreciate the wonderful and complex melodies of Radiohead. Christopher O'Riley masterfully takes the sampling, the vocals, the instrumentation and distills them down to two hands of intricate and fragile melodies and harmonies.
Equal in greatness for studying is the other compilation of Christopher O'Riley Radiohead covers, Hold Me to This. I chose True Love Waits simply because it had my two favorite tracks on it, "You" and "Everything In Its Right Place". There are two other volumes that he has put out of piano covers called Home to Oblivion and Second Grace, covering Elliott Smith and Nick Drake respectively. Both are good but they the complexity and beauty of the two Radiohead albums. Christopher O'Riley has some other classical albums but I'm not too familiar with them.
Saxon Shore - The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore
There's a thousand albums we could choose from the musical genre of post-rock and I simply chose my favorite. Any of the Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You! Black Emperor would have worked just as well, but I simply attached to Saxon Shore and in particular this album. It's all sans lyrics but full of beautiful, beautiful songs. The album is great because it's pretty varied, going from upbeat on "The Revolution Will Be Streaming" to an almost tear-jerker of "How We Won the West on Horseback" (the album is full of sweet track names by the way). As far as instrumentation, it's mostly guitars, electric bass, and drums with some keyboards and a bit of sampling for good measure. I highly recommend it.
The only other album I have is their latest It Doesn't Matter which is pretty good. It would be on this list if it weren't for this album. The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore is among my top ten albums of all time and it just has to be mentioned.
Well there you have it. That's my best shot at the best albums to which you can study and I hope you enjoy them. If you have some albums you to which you study, post 'em below and we can do a follow up on what you guys like.