Music To Make Love To Your Old Code By June 25, 2008 | 06:37 am

Edit: BTW, the title of this post is a reference to “Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By“.


Almost every developer I know puts on their headphones when they’re really getting into coding. Now, I’m assuming that everyone is listening to something, and I’m curious to know what it is.

Here’s my list.
Dave’s Lounge (podcast)
Chillcast (podcast)
EJ Flavor’s — Old School Wednesday (podcast)
Anontin Dvorak
Aphex Twin
Black Violin
Chris Connelly
David Bowie
Deine Lakaien / Veljanov
James Horner (“A Beautiful Mind” soundtrack)
John Kruth (“Eva Destruction” A+++++++ would listen again)
KMFDM
Kraftwerk (Don’t judge me!)
The New Pornographers
Nuttin But Stringz
A Perfect Circle
Porno for Pyros
Reel Big Fish
Yann Tiersen (“Amelie” soundtrack)

  • http://hamletdarcy.blogspot.com/ Hamlet D\’Arcy

    Ha… I use my earplugs as often as my earphones… and sometimes I do put my earphones on with no music just so people are less likely to interrupt.

    But for coding, nothing beats Django Reinhart in the morning and the BBC 1Xtra Drum and Bass shows in the afternoon.

  • http://hamletdarcy.blogspot.com/ Hamlet D’Arcy

    Ha… I use my earplugs as often as my earphones… and sometimes I do put my earphones on with no music just so people are less likely to interrupt.

    But for coding, nothing beats Django Reinhart in the morning and the BBC 1Xtra Drum and Bass shows in the afternoon.

  • http://blog.bjhess.com Barry Hess

    Of late, I’m down with Bon Iver. Otherwise I typically go with stuff light on lyrics: a jazz mix, a classical mix, Dave’s Lounge, Air, NiN – Ghosts, etc.

  • Srdjan Pejic

    I do a mix of things. Sometimes I do Groove Salad on SomaFM, sometimes I need more upbeat, so I go with the Essential Mix or Annie Nightingale recordings.

  • http://www.forecastadvisor.com Eric Floehr

    Here’s what’s in the mix for me right now in Album (Artist) format:

    The Score–An Epic Journey (Epica)
    Cartographer (E.S. Posthumus)
    The Heart of Everything (Within Temptation)
    Beethoven’s Last Night (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
    Galaxies (Kevin Braheny)
    Born (Bond)
    Ghost Opera (Kamelot)

  • http://stevideter.com Stevi Deter

    Now that I have an office, I put the headphones on less frequently. But the standards for me are techno, classical guitar, and Spanish pop. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics I understand. I swear I’m dragging my feet on really learning Spanish because it means having to get an entirely different musical library.

  • Scott Vokes

    I tend to listen to noise loops (pink noise, white noise adjusted to be less hiss-y) as often as music. Sometimes I find music too distracting.

    Also, have you read about the study about programming while listening to music in Peopleware?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertfischer Robert Fischer

    @Scott Vokes

    Maybe it’s just because I’m media-saturated, but if I don’t have something playing in the background, I have a lot of trouble focusing. I need the low-level distraction or I go into high-level distractions.

    No, I haven’t read that study. What’s it say?

  • Scott Vokes

    This is from memory:
    In the study, two groups of programmers were given some sort of problem to solve, with one group listening to music at the time and one working in silence*. Each group had a mix of people who preferred music while programming and who preferred silence, to rule out personal preference and practice tuning it out. The study found that while both groups did equally well in general, there was a statistically significant increase in the number of programmers in the programming-without-music group who realized that much of the work in the problem canceled out when viewed as a whole, and solved it considerably faster as a result.
    (There’s also a summary on Ward Cunningham’s wiki under http://www.c2.com/cgi/wiki?ThinkingMusicConsideredHarmful .)

    * This doesn’t compare “listening to music to filter out ambient noise” vs. “enduring the ambient noise”, of course.

    Without going into personal tastes, while programming I prefer music I already know really well. Actively listening to new stuff really distracts me, but I have a set of ten or so albums/playlists that I listen to regularly when working and not in the mood for white noise.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertfischer Robert Fischer

    I do turn off the music when I’m thinking at a high level and solving problems — I find it’s distracting at that point. But, at least in my experience, the vast majority of coding isn’t problem solving: most of it is putting the right pieces into the right places and making the wiring work.

    And, yeah, the familiarity is important. It’s easy to get distracted otherwise.