Best Classical Music To Listen To While Doing Homework Late

by Emily E. Hogstad | August 31st, 2016


Whether you’re a newbie or a lifelong connoisseur, all classical music fans agree: some pieces work better as background music than others…especially when we’re studying! A Mahler symphony is powerful in the concert hall, but in the study hall, its grandiosity and mood changes might prove distracting.

So that begs the question: what are the best pieces of classical music to listen to when you hit the books? We all have our favorites, but here are eight of mine. Keep in mind that this is not a traditional list, and many of the pieces here push the boundaries of the traditional definition of “classical music.”

Soundtrack from “Koyaanisqatsi” by Philip Glass. Music written in the minimalist style appears several times on this list. Many people find minimalism’s trademark repeated rhythms, gradual tempo changes, and tonal language helpful to listen to while concentrating. All of these elements are on full display in Philip Glass’s soundtrack for the 1984 experimental film Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance. The music serves as the main aural feature of the film since there is no dialogue. Instead, the story is told through shots of landscapes, military installations, and cities, with Glass’s mesmerizing soundtrack playing for nearly the whole movie.

Glass: Koyaanisqatsi
Sinfoniae Sacrae by Giovanni Gabrieli. Gabrieli was born in the 1550s and died in 1612. Despite the fact that he lived so long ago, there is something fresh and engaging about his compositional language, straddling eras between Renaissance and Baroque. The Sinfoniae Sacrae are rhythmic and upbeat, with just enough contrast to keep things interesting!

Gabrieli: Symphoniae Sacrae
Soundtrack from “The Village” by James Newton Howard. “The Village” may not have been a huge box office success, but its haunting soundtrack is transporting, twisting through wistful moods like the view from a kaleidoscope. Superstar violinist Hilary Hahn is a featured soloist, lending the music some serious classical music credentials.


Phrygian Gates by John Adams. Phrygian Gates shares important hallmarks with the Glass soundtrack mentioned above. It was written in 1978-79 and features a rhythmic, shimmering solo piano musing away for almost half an hour. As the notes spin, they cycle through a variety of different keys, providing interest. The result is mesmerizing, and perfect for getting into a study groove.

Adams: Phrygian Gates
Soundtrack from “The Fountain” by Clint Mansell. Like “The Village” soundtrack, the soundtrack from “The Fountain” may not be classical music strictly speaking, but it does feature well-respected performers from the classical music scene. Members of the Kronos Quartet, an American string quartet that specializes in new music, perform along with the band Mogwai. The result is an overwhelmingly melancholic score that is both dreamy and thought-provoking.

Mansell: The Fountain
Trois Gymnopédies by Erik Satie. Composer Erik Satie began publishing these three short piano pieces in 1888. They are especially striking for how they balance deep emotion with stasis (a stasis created in large part by the recurring notes in the bass). It comes as no surprise that these deeply affecting pieces have been commandeered for use in modern pop culture, including appearances in movies, orchestral arrangements, and even a Janet Jackson track. They are both calming and inspiring: perfect for studying.

Satie: Trois Gymnopédies
Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach. The story of the variations’ conception is legendary. Apparently Count Herman Karl von Keyserling, a diplomat to the Saxon court, had trouble sleeping. The count asked a musician in his service, a keyboard virtuoso by the name of Goldberg, to play harpsichord for him as he battled insomnia. Bach wrote a set of theme and variations for Goldberg to play during these nighttime concerts, and the “Goldberg Variations” were published in 1741. Even if you’re not trying to fall asleep, the Goldberg Variations provide one of the most beautiful backgrounds in all of music.

Bach: Goldberg Variations
Anything by Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was many things: an abbess, a philosopher, a mystic, an author, and even a composer. Her music lacks tempo indicators and is monophonic (meaning that it contains only one melody line without accompanying chords). Accordingly, her works sound exceptionally flowing and otherworldly, especially to a modern ear. It is perfect music to explore while studying.

O splendidissima gemma
Those are the first eight pieces that come to mind. However, one of the (many!) great things about classical music is that it’s a genre that spans continents and millenia. Eight pieces are just a single drop in an ocean of awesomeness. So dive in yourself and find the pieces that work for you!

How to Select Music for Studying : 10 Tips

It is said that to study it’s necessary to have a quiet environment without distractions. However, for some, studying in a quiet environment can backfire. This ‘quiet environment’ can make you end up fighting boredom and succumbing to the allure of sleeping at your desk! This is why the importance of choosing the right music for studying can’t be underestimated.

Although some studies say that listening to music while you study isn’t good, for many people it’s vital. It’s calms them down, which can lead to productive studying. Music can also help elevate your mood and motivate you to study longer.

The real challenge is to select the right music for studying. The wrong type of study music may end up distracting you from your study. So today we are going to offer some tips and ideas on how to pick the best study music for you!

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10 Tips: How to Choose Your Music for Studying

Tip # 1

Classical music is peaceful and harmonious making it one of the best options to listen to when studying.

Tip # 2

It seems that there is evidence that Mozart improves mental performance. They call it the “Mozart Effect.”

Tip # 3

Listen to ambient instrumental music. This type of music is more modern than classical and has a similar effect. I always find that movie soundtracks are quite good.

Tip # 4

Listen to sounds of nature such as rain, waves, jungles or animals while studying. While this is not exactly music it is relaxing and you will feel like you’re in another world.

Tip # 5

You’re studying, not crashing a rave! Listen to your study music at a moderate volume. The lower the better. The louder it is, the more it will distract you. Your main purpose is to study so keep your music in the background. When you’re finished studying then you can crank it up to 11!

Tip # 6

Create a playlist with all your favourite songs in advance to avoid having to search for new songs every 5 minutes. This will save you time, allow you to plan how long your study session will be and help your level of concentration while you study.

Tip # 7

Do not listen to music on the radio when studying. The dialogue of the presenters and ads will distract you. You should have complete control of your best study music.

Tip # 8

Make playlists that last for 40 to 50 minutes. When the playlist ends, this will act as a reminder to take a short break from studying.

Tip # 9

Listen to music before you go to bed or before an exam. This will make you feel relaxed and put you in the right state of mind.

Tip # 10

While choosing the best music to study while studying is important, you should avoid spending hours selecting the songs. At the end of the day, what matters is not choosing the best music in the world but that your study is  productive

I hope these study tips are useful. You will know if you’ve made the right music choices if the music fades into the background and your study takes center stage. As soon as the music starts to cloud your study you need to change you study music choices… or just do a quick dance to get it out of your system!

Follow these tips and your choice of study music will improve.

 And remember, use these tips while you study with GoConqr will bring you one step closer to achieving exam success. So log in or sign up for free now.

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