Need to finish that writing or studying assignment but finding it hard to focus? Playing carefully chosen music in the background can help create the perfect atmosphere for concentrating while working and may even help inspire you to write that new novel or short story.

There are a couple of things to consider when picking your perfect background music.

First, it is a good idea to consider instrumental music. This way there will be no vocals or lyrics to distract from the task at hand. Secondly, the music should not be overly dynamic. It is distracting to constantly have wide variations in volume or intensity. Many great symphonic pieces tend to be wildly dynamic. This is exciting when you are sitting in the concert hall; but if you want to maintain focus on your work, you should choose more soothing options like chamber music or solo instrumental recordings.

Following are 5 classical albums that make great background music for reading, writing or studying.


1. J.S Bach. The Goldberg Variations – Glenn Gould Plays Bach (1981) Sony BMG Music Entertainment

This album is among the best selling classical albums of all-time. It is Glenn Gould’s first piano recording and features 32 solo piano works. They were composed by Bach in 1741 for a Russian Count who suffered from Insomnia and wished his private pianist, Goldberg, to have something to play to keep him entertained during those sleepless nights. We can all benefit from the genius inherent in these compositions. Put it on and let it work on you subconsciously.

2. Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet. Nocturne (2009) Channel Classics Records

This quartet plays a variety of recorder music from the Renaissance, Baroque, and twentieth century. The recorder is a wind instrument similar to a flute but different in that it has seven holes instead of eight and the player blows into the end of the instrument rather than from the side. It also has a more round and mellow tone. The Loeki Stardust quartet has many other albums that could easily be added to this list, as they are all excellent. Put this album on repeat and you can go an entire evening with perfect background music.

3. Alrio Diaz. Four Centuries of Music for the Spanish Guitar (1965) Vanguard Records

Fredric Chopin, the famous pianist once remarked: “Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.” Classical guitar music is a great choice as background music while reading or writing. This collection as recorded by Alrio Diaz is the perfect choice. The tunes include works from composers such as Bach, Albeniz, Sor, Scarlatti, Tarrega and Haydn. There are 18 tracks total and they flow evenly from one to the next creating a soothing and introspective atmosphere.

4. Yo-Yo Ma. Bach: The Cello Suites. (1997) Sony BMG Music Entertainment

What can be said about Yo-Yo Ma? He is regarded worldwide as one of the most inspirational cello players ever to approach the instrument. This album sings out soulfully, complementing Bach’s great melodies with all of the sonorous tones and colors the instrument is known for. These timeless compositions as interpreted by Ma can turn any surroundings into a place of beauty. When this album is playing, you’ll be transported – even the room will look different.

5. Rolf Lislevand: Nuove Musiche. 2005 ECM Records

Rolf Lislevand is unique among many classical guitarists. He has resurrected the art of improvisation around a theme as it was done in the 17th century. Most classical musicians will reproduce note for note the composition as it was written down. Lislevand approaches the music more like a jazz artist and weaves his own interpretation around the written themes. This album has a timeless quality to it and features many authentic stringed instruments from the period including the theorbo (a 14 string instrument similar to but with a longer than neck than a lute). There are a couple songs on the album that feature some beautiful female vocals, but they are mixed much like an instrument and do not distract much from the instrumental nature of the work.

Another great idea is to create a special playlist designed just for reading or writing. If you are writing a book, you might even create several playlists where each one corresponds to a mood you want to create in your story. Some writers do this consistently and even consider their chosen music to be the book’s “soundtrack”.

These are only suggestions of course. Everyone has their favorite “concentration music”. Leave a comment and share some of your favorites.

Note: I had previously published this article at Yahoo Associated Content.

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