Sunday Sesh: Study Music


For many of you, the fall semester is back in swing. You may be two or three weeks in and already feeling the press of homework, projects, and upcoming exams. You may be staying up every night during the week cramming, only to attempt to erase all that knowledge with booze over the weekend. Whether you’re a university student or still trucking along in high school, this post is for you.

I may be a few years removed from having to do homework assignments, but the existential dread of missing an exam or not finishing a paper still haunts me in my darkest dreams. Unfortunately for you, many of you are no doubt living that reality. If you’re anything like me, then, you’ve found certain styles of music tend to be more efficacious in creating a specific mindset for studying. You may enjoy classical music or film scores, but you may also find plenty of meditative power within the realm of metal.

When I was pulling all-nighters in the computer lab, pounding back energy drinks and staring at HEC-HMS pipe networks, I found that much of the chaotic fare I usually enjoy was a bit too distracting. I needed something more ponderous, contemplative, and nuanced. I believe it was this need that eventually led me into the post-metal/sludge waters of Isis and NeurosisIn the Absence of Truth especially was a frequent listen for me while working on engineering problems. The swelling dynamics and stirring tension were perfect for leading my mind through engineering problems without sending it down blast(beat)ed-out rabbit holes. Plus, albums by bands like this are typically on the longer side, so I wouldn’t need to worry as much about constantly choosing new releases.

I may be an exception, though. Perhaps you need more short bursts of chaos to carry you through the workload. With the semester back in swing, I want to hear your strategy. What study music do you use? Why does it work for you? Sound off in the comments below.

(Photo VIA)

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  • Lacertilian

    Don’t know if it helped but I used to study for Science exams with Dysrhythmia, Psyopus, The Red Chord, Behold… The Arctopus, Animosity, Blotted Science, Gaza, pretty much all the stuff I was getting into around the mid-2000’s. In between that and living out of home perma-stoned, partying, drinking, jamming, and eating sheets, I don’t know how I got a degree at all.

    • Ayreonaut

      That perfectly describes my high school years

    • You were so hardcore. What happened?

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        He came to his senses.

      • Lacertilian

        Yes, hardcore.
        Although, who said I stopped?
        *casually takes a bite from a passing stray cat*

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    When I was studying for my own purposes generally I found anything that I liked much proved a bit too distracting. But this year during the time I’ve spent helping a non native English speaking friend with spelling and grammar corrections in courseworks I’ve found Striborg good for morosely grinding through, then switched to Dysrhythmia when I’ve felt more peppy.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    If I remember correctly, I listened to a lot of Sleep and Om during homework. On the off chance we were allowed to listen in class during projects it was just whatever I was feeling that day.

    Constant rotation:

    • W.

      Yah, definitely jammed Om from time to time.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Om makes good jams.

    • Eliza

      I listen to Om too while doing homework. Really helps with concentration.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Om helps with life

        • Eliza

          Best meditation music.

  • Lena Dunham’s Angry Moo Anthem

    Best news of the year: Watchtower is back together and has a new album coming out. Let the masters show you youngins how technical metal is actually done! (shakes tiny fists and beats up my lawn).

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      This is fine news indeed!

  • Hubert

    Honestly, I’ve noticed that the only good studying music is silence.

  • Jack Rabbit

    I think black metal and melo-death are both pretty good for studying, since neither are technical enough to demand my full attention while also not completely drifting into the background like post-metal tends to.
    However, lately I’ve found a lot of old trip-hop stuff to be my jam while studying.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I’d rather not comment on my lack of studying but when I did study I listened to jazz fusion.

    • Lena Dunham’s Angry Moo Anthem

      I’m pretty scattersplat as far my attention, even without alcohol (which kinda gets me focused at times). My ADD is pretty obvious to anyone who knows me, but it’s something I wouldn’t give up for the world. Granted, it takes a lot more effort for me to concentrate one something more than the average person, but I’ve gotten a lot done. One of those instances:

      After all that effort, that album finally got released years ago, and Robert said in an interview it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t bug him. It’s hard to concentrate, but pushing for it with almost maniacal effort pays off sometimes.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Studying? Lol, get a job bum

  • EsusMoose

    Generally new albums is preferred, and then old favorites either single tracks or albums. I remember reading somewhere that listening to music you’re not familiar with or is new to you, helps you focus. So I try to follow that but how I’m feeling dictates what music is on more often than not. If I’m not feeling well I’ll go to familiar or easier to digest stuff.
    Of new stuff it generally just needs to match how I feel, energetic days wants technicality and speed, mellow days want mellow stuff.

  • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

    Isis was amazing for doing regular homework or writing a paper, but honestly for studying I needed complete silence or white noise to drown out the fucking idiots who would come into the silent section of the library 3rd floor drunk at night.

  • When it came to actual thinking power, say for instance Math and Reading I had to have complete silence. When it comes to designing and creating artwork, I can listen to whatever and be fine though.

    • W.

      That makes a lot of sense to me.

    • Ayreonaut

      To whatever?? Even J geils band??

      • Ayreonaut

        Michael Bolton?

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I like J Geils Band.

  • J.R.™

    And if I’m not done by the time these albums are, usually it means I need to drop the class because I have no clue what to do

  • Count_Breznak

    Depended on what kind of exam it was. For those retarded “summerize 120 pages of crap into about 10 handwritten ones and memorize.fucking.everything.” cases ? Runemagick, Red Harvest, etc..
    For the real exams where it’s about actually understanding what you are doing and they pretty much allow you everything but a device that can connect to the internet (*cough* ? Select all and hit “random”. Studying was pretty pointless for those, since you either “got it” during the semester, or you were fucked. All you had left to do were some exercises to get your handwriting and calculations up to speed.

  • Eliza

    When I study, I like to listen to music that I enjoy enough that it doesn’t bother me, but that I don’t love so much that I would interrupt myself to listen to it. Post rock/metal usually does the trick, but I switch to stoner from to time to time.

  • if one were to cut me in half and measure the number of rings, it would currently be 35. i am at the exact mid-way point between my birth and my death. during my senior year of college, one of the electives i chose was African American Fiction (something i thought would be a cakewalk) which turned out to be as rewarding as it was strenuous — possibly the most impactful class i took in all of college — as we were tasked with reading a book of 400+ pages every two weeks. because of this i have listened to the Fight Club soundtrack more times than any other album in existence; its chill nature and lack of vocals it made the best possible accompaniment to reading and/or studying in college.

    • Lacertilian

      Aesop Rock reference???

  • Dubz, I was listening to that Isis album a lot when I was in school. Mostly for driving to and from class though. Track #1 really got me pumped to face class, which I always dreaded. I don’t remember listening to a lot of metal while writing papers. I think I required silence. Beyond last-minute papers, I didn’t study for shit. I was too busy writing other things. I think at that time I used to listen to the Memento soundtrack a lot while writing.

    • W.

      I actually jam a fair number of sountracks when I’m trying to concentrate deeply, but I get too distracted if there’s zero music.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Study? pff

  • CT-12

    I personally can’t listen to anything if I’m studying or whatever, but my girlfriend swears by listening to instrumental music while she studies. Not a bad plan.

  • Lena Dunham’s Angry Moo Anthem

    Studying is impossibly hard with ADD, which I have. It’s honestly a battle to concentrate on anything for more than a day. But it has it’s advantages. 🙂