In response to my previous post, wherein I recounted that I now write while listening to music, 'S' asked me in the comments section:
What do you prefer to groove to while writing? I have been experimenting on and off with listening to music while writing, though I still write in near complete silence, aside from the sounds that travel in from the world outside my window. I find that it is not so much that I can't write with music on, it is that I can't find the right volume to write at. If the music is too loud, no good. If it is too soft I find that I will intuitively become more aware of the music as I try to pick out faint notes.
I was going to simply respond by way of a comment, but the more I thought about, the more I thought it might be worth writing a stand alone post on -- for I had S's problem for a long time, too (finding the "right" stuff to listen to, etc.). For a long time, I couldn't write to music. It always seemed to distract me. But then, one morning, I listened to a particular playlist, and all of sudden it just worked. The music inspired me to write with an unusual amount of energy and focus, and in a kind of counterintuitive way...which is why I thought it might be worth sharing.
At least offhand, you might think that soft, unobtrusive music might be the best to write to. After all, as S's comment indicates, "if the music is too loud, no good." But then, as S notes, if the music is too soft, one can get distracted by that. Further, I've noted that "easy-listening" music does not contribute to the kind of energy that (in my case, at least) motivates highly focused, efficient work. Easy-listening music can relax one too much. You can kind of get into a lazy state of mind where you're sort of enjoying the music, but not focusing that intensely.
So, then, how do you figure out the right stuff to listen to, and at the right volume? In my experience, it's not volume that matters. It's all in the music selection. You need to find work that impels you, that gets in your bones and just drives you to focus and have fun. For me, at least since 2012, it's been three albums by the Danish rock group, Mew. Super early one morning after a Skype interview, at a time when I didn't write to music, I was tired and decided just to throw them on repeat in my office. The next four hours were by far the most fun and productive hours I have ever had doing philosophy (I popped out the final 30 pages or so of "A New Theory of Free Will"). Ever since then, I've just popped them Mew in on repeat, and it never fails. I can play it at any volume, and it just gets my creative juices flowing. You'd think they'd get old, right? Nope, I love them as artists and can listen to them all day long! For some reason, listening to them gives me energy and focus, and makes writing fun. I suppose sooner or later I'll have to find something new, but for now, I go with them.
So, anyway, that's what I'd suggest. It's not about finding the right volume (at least for me). It's about finding that artist or artists that simply inspire a certain kind of energy, focus, and fun. I have no idea if this is true of everyone, but it can't hurt to try. So, I say, experiment! Maybe you'll find an artist that works for you. :)
Anyway, to answer S's question, here's what I "groove" to. What do you groove to?