Friday, January 21

‘I’m Working On 1001 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die’ – WFH Readers’ Playlists | Music


‘I do almost all of my best work to Bach’

If I need to focus on something really thorny, I always go for Bach. It seems to allow my brain to function at a high level and I do most of my best work for Bach. András Schiff or Angela Hewitt playing the keyboard and Hilary Hahn on the violin. Beethoven’s last quartets and Schubert’s lieder are good for deep reflection. If I’m just doing low-level stuff, then Radio Paradise is my go-to – it’s a commercial-free internet station, which I like because it mixes a lot of things that I know from my youth with the music that I am. less familiar with. Edward Collier, Software Developer, Cheltenham

‘This instrumental arrangement does not require any headbanging’

I found a wonderful classical / instrumental arrangement of the albums of the progressive metal band Killswitch Engage on YouTube, called Activation of the cold switch. (See what they did there?) It’s moving and inspiring, and I can have it in the background without being distracted. And it doesn’t require any headbanging, unlike the originals. Theo, editor, Bristol

Killswitch Engage… try the classic version.
Killswitch Engage… try the classic version. Photography: Travis Shinn

‘Each album on my playlist has its own special meaning’

I started making a playlist of (what I consider to be) “classic albums” around the beginning of the lockdown, in April 2020. I listen to it most days. So far, it’s 247 hours of music (that’s 3,213 songs). I love that each album I’ve chosen has its own special meaning: nostalgia for a chapter in my life, an artist that influenced my career as a musician, or a song that reminds me of friends and family. John Garden, former session musician and psychotherapist-in-training, Bedford

‘Once you get used to the weird, it’s great for filtering out background noise’

When I work, I almost always put on an internet radio station called Shirley and Spinoza, which plays dark, quirky, and exotic music, interspersed with movie soundtracks, sound effects, atmospheric, and vintage advertisements. The sounds do not require the listener’s attention, but are great for filtering out unwanted background noise. Once you are used to the strangeness of sounds, it is well suited for listening for very long periods. I have been tuning in to this station since at least 2003; It is run by a guy in China named Fausto, who is quite friendly. (If you email him, he responds.) However, there is neither Shirley nor Spinoza. Jos, software application creator, Netherlands

‘Watching sets live helps avoid some of the loneliness’

I love finding live sets on YouTube. My favorites are Muse, Kings of Leon, Green Day, Coldplay, and Mumford & Sons. All Kennedy Center Honors performances are also online, Paul McCartney and Led Zeppelin are my personal highlights, as well as many of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sets. In my previous job, I would spend months abroad, working from hotel rooms, and the crowd’s interaction with the bands avoided some of the loneliness that could arise from spending a day in a single room, much like working from home during isolation. Charlie, Marketing Director, Nottingham

‘I’m working on 1001 albums you must listen to before you die’

I’m working my way, chronologically, through the book 1001 albums you must listen to before you die. Aside from the classics (Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix, etc.), my musical taste didn’t go back beyond the 90’s, but this has put me in touch with people that I hadn’t listened to or hadn’t had the chance before. I have 185 albums in (just hit 1970) and the top ones so far include Louis Prima, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Fred Neil, and Pretty Things. Also, the Beatles were pretty good. Brendan Flanagan, Operations Team Leader, Bristol

Alice Coltrane ... a particular favorite.
Alice Coltrane … a particular favorite. Photograph: Michael Ochs / Activision Archives

‘My playlist started out as a yoga soundtrack so it’s very relaxing’

I have a collection of yoga playlists that appealed to me when I started working from home. The tracks are almost entirely instrumental, from neoclassical to low-fi electronic / techno – think Four Tet, Nils Frahm, and John Roberts. The playlist is now over 12 hours long. Because it started out as a yoga soundtrack, it is very relaxing. I hesitate to use the term “background” music, but it is not interactive. There are no big climaxes or rhythmic complexities, so it is relaxing. Judgment, Lewisham

‘Donna Summer motivates me for the next day’

I made myself an epic playlist filled with empowered feminist musics to cheer me up for the day ahead. It always repeats itself, from Dolly Parton to Bones UK; Leikla 47 to Katy Perry. Right now it’s Donna Summer She works hard for the money that makes me happier. Listening to her, I feel strong, fierce and like I can face anything. Disco is never dead. Ryan Johnson, Senior Administrator, Edinburgh

‘I’ve expanded my once-narrow listening habits’

I tend to pick one genre a day to explore. I have discovered a lot of great music in this way and have expanded my once narrow listening habits. There have been Iranian ambient music, doom metal, vaporwave, nature sound recordings, and more. One of the few positive aspects of the pandemic is that I seem to have expanded my knowledge and not only used music for background noise. This has also contributed to the music review / listening parties that I have online with friends in the evenings. Sam, civil servant, Derbyshire

The witcher 3
‘Brings peace of mind’ … The Witcher 3. Photography: CD Projekt RED

‘I listen to the soundtrack of The Witcher 3’

The nature of my work does not allow me to listen to music, since most of the time I make phone calls or video conferences. However, when I am tasked with managing, I put on my headphones and listen to the soundtrack of The Witcher 3 game. This music brings peace to mind and reminds me of the game. It calms me down without interrupting the tasks I’m working on. Tom Prokopowicz, Major Incident Manager, Nuneaton

‘The tempo is slow, but not so slow as to make me feel lethargic’

I’ve been listening to instrumental jazz for the most part, old and new. Alice Coltrane’s classic Journey in Satchidananda has been a favorite, and Arp’s Zebra has been featured a lot as well. The tempo is slow, keeping me calm, but not so slow as to make me feel lethargic. I make sure the playlist contains no lyrics as singing tends to break my concentration. If I’m feeling a bit excited, an Erik Satie piano sonata works great too. Sebastian Morrell, Engineering Geologist, Staffordshire

‘It’s like diving in and out of different worlds’

I listen to podcasts on politics and economics on some days; other days I look for music albums: lots of American hardcore from the ’80s, alternative rock and modern progressive. Other times, I have the David Bowie or Queen days, starting from the beginning and going through their discography. Some days, it’s a seven-hour (or more) playlist of anime themes: Joe Hisaishi, Kevin Penkin, Yoko Kanno, all sorts. It’s like diving in and out of different and colorful worlds, full of explorers, witches, monsters and cyberpunk agents; it’s just fun. Much of my choice depends on whether I’m at the drawing board, painting on a Mac, or writing scripts, which require more concentration. Ultimately, it is about losing myself in the rhythm of work, forgetting myself and being absorbed. Luke, artist, Wales

Blackpink… cheerful and fun.
Blackpink… cheerful and fun. Photograph: AP

‘Listening to upbeat and fun music while I work lifts my spirits’

I listen to BTS and Blackpink, and sometimes I play French music. Being locked up at home almost 24/7 can be frustrating, and this has affected my productivity. But listening to upbeat, fun music while I work lifts my spirits. Even if I don’t even understand 90% of the lyrics, their music helps keep my anxieties at bay. BTS and Blackpink have kept me company through these challenging months and I know they will continue to be a part of my work routine. Karen Joy Alcober, Development Worker, Philippines

‘There is something peaceful about the music of the mid-90s and 2000s’

Two songs that I have been listening to are Santeria by Sublime and Part of the Process by Morcheeba. There is something really peaceful about the music of the mid 90s and 2000s, especially in the indie or alternative genre. It really helps me focus and gives me a sense of nostalgia for my youth. With more modern music, I particularly like some of the more recent work by Jack Harlow and SG Lewis. Studies show that this type of music helps to relax the mind and, in a low decibel range, it can really help with concentration. Jonny Garwood, student, Hertfordshire

Laura Marling ... a replacement for the teammates?
Laura Marling … a replacement for the teammates? Photograph: Yui Mok / PA

‘I enjoy being carried away by the sound’

When I was in the office, I used to listen to comedy podcasts through headphones (which I had to pause to keep from laughing out loud). Now that I am home and can laugh without hindrance, I am drawn to the melodic sounds of the singers: The Unthanks, Laura Marling, Kathryn Williams, Sophie Hunger. Perhaps it will be a replacement for my many companions, whom I miss very much. I like to get carried away by sound, and I am known for humming in pain. My husband frequently yells upstairs to ask me if I’m okay or to politely point out that he’s in a meeting. Kate Firth, editor / web tester, Skipton


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