Category: Music

Creativity Culture Music

Taste in choice

gif by Emma Darvick

Pick a playlist and let it roll. We leave little of no time for hand-selection or any form of curation because we let the algorithm take over.

Since when did algorithms become the arbiter of taste?

Great art intends to stretch taste rather than follow mathematical formulas. The best music is unpredictable, spontaneously discovered in digging through the crates.

Researching new music, books, etc., is an active and selective process. We remember where we were when we find something new — there’s a story. Like an appreciation for wine, hand selection is subjective and tastes extra good because we found it!

Playing tastemaker is time-consuming. But that’s the point. Better to seek different than sucked into the generic maelstrom of style that pulls from the so-called wisdom of crowds.

Culture Music Social Media

Digging in the crates

It had that barber shop vibe, the relaxed atmosphere where people kicked back, dug the crates, and talked music.

There were posters and promotional displays but they couldn't outshine the album artwork. Marketing started from the bottom up. Consumption was based on peer recommendations.

The record shop was a place of giver's gain, where the information shared up front by one crate digger to another got reciprocated down the road.

Back then, music collecting was truly social. Today, social algorithms make recommendations.

While the data is getting smarter, popularity reigns because the wisdom of crowds leans popular, making music suggestions more mimetic and less random. Pop music exists because people are too shallow, lazy, or genuinely uninterested in looking deeper.

You only need to listen to a few DJs and curators to know what's good. These are the same crate diggers you used to speak to in the record stores which are now mostly nonexistent.

Taste is not universal. It's personal yet relatable and trustworthy, especially if it's coming from a respected source.

Stepping into a particular record store once meant openness and experimentation, the willingness to try new sounds and share tracks with others.

In the absence of music shops, music lost some of its frequency and culture fell on deaf ears.

Music Productivity & Work Writing

Want to focus? Seek ambient sound

A gif of woman stirring coffee in coffee shop
The gentle hum of a coffee shop

One of the greatest myths of our time is that silence is golden. But complete silence will keep you from working effectively. It may even put you to sleep.

J. K. Rowling left the solitude of her own home to write the Harry Potter series in a coffee shop amid the cacophony of people chatting over grinding espresso machines. The noisy environment inspired her to get to work. Just enough sound creates an ambient environment conducive to working by drowning out any other unpredictable racket in the background.

Studies show that learning to play an instrument makes it easier for children to learn how to read. Additionally, the “Mozart Effect” is said to improve concentration and study habits. Popular music is used during operations to relax both patient and doctor. Muzak takes the awkward silence out of the elevator.

The right type of noise is critical to working effectively. In fact, many CEOs expect disruptions in the form of email and calls to ensure the business is actively operating. Silence is the antithesis of productivity.

In order to stay motivated and remain productive, we need perpetual sound rather than peace and quiet. Sound is productive. It is the silence that can be deadly.


art via giphy

By the way, if you're looking for scientifically optimized music to help you focus, you must give the app Focus@Will a try. Use my affiliate link and you'll get two FREE weeks.

Culture Fashion Music

Vans honor David Bowie with sneakers designed after his album covers

Vans honor David Bowie with sneakers designed after his album covers

Vans released a line of shoes themed to commemorate the late David Bowie and his artful genius. Each of the four designs in The Vans x David Bowie collection mimic the artist's album covers, including Blackstar and Aladdin Sane from his earlier glam era.

 

You can read more about the special collection here.

Apps Music Productivity & Work

The best music to help you focus

This post contains affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info.

Music is a performance-enhancement drug. There's a reason athletes listen to songs on repeat to pump them up before games. But music's effect on studying, writing, or doing office work is equally profound.

Music is known to increase your productivity by sharpening your focus and putting your brain into a flow state. However, it takes the right type of sound to help get concentrate on your studies and work.

A gif of a record spinning with a brain on the vinyl

Always do your best work

Focus@Will offers over 20 channels and thousands of hours of music that are scientifically optimized to help you focus and get stuff done.

Seriously, the app has some serious studies to prove it.

“We ask our users to rate their productivity during each session, and we’ve found that the average productivity in a one-hour focus@will session is 75% – this is far above the productivity most people report in an hour without focus@will.”

I use the Uptempo channel at work when I need to filter out distractions and help push me through reading hundreds of emails. However, I turn on the Ambient playlist with medium intensity when I want to get into a contemplative state to journal or blog.

You'll be amazed at how a little hum of music can make you more productive. I'm listening to the Cafe Focus channel now as I type this post!

Pick your focus channel to hear a sample

Music = neurological focus power

“Music is part of being human,” Oliver Sacks wrote in Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. And the right music, customized to supercharge your happy work creativity, can make a huge difference in your workday!

I recommend that you give Focus@Will a try on the computer first since it seems to work best when you can toggle between focus channels to find one that fits your work habits. But the complimentary app works just as well.

You can sign up to Focus@Will today and get two free weeks. If you see the increased focus you're looking for, I suggest leveling up with the annual subscription since it's ultimately cheaper than month-to-month.

So get stuff done while making better use of your time. Reduce your distractions. Be more creative. Always do your best work. And give your mind the boost it needs.

Get focused, today.

gif by @leonnikoo

Creativity Music

Brian Eno on what he learned from David Bowie in making art

The ‘write what you know’ trope works because it’s easier to write the truth. But what’s authentic isn’t always what’s best for the art.

David Bowie modified his voice when he sang “I’m Afraid of Americans.” He wanted to make sure the tone matched up with the voice of the character (himself) portraying it. He interpreted music through motion. Brian Eno said that Bowie did what was best for the song, not clinging to the usual memoir approach of a singer.

“A lot of people think that singers should always be sincere, that it has to be their own soul coming out. That’s b — — — -. What you’re really doing is working like a playwright. You’re making little plays and the singer is the lead character.”

Brian Eno

Eno encourages fictional storytelling. Making art is an act. It’s supposed to be fantasy. But some artists think that the truth is what sets them free and leave it to their fans are there to sort it out.

“It’s that ridiculous teenage idea that when Mick Jagger sings, he’s telling you something about his own life. It’s so arrogant to think that people would want to know about it. This is my problem with Tracey Emin. Who f****** cares.”

Brian Eno

Art breaks the rules. It takes inspiration from the real world to create something new. It dances with fear. Artists continue dreaming into adulthood, without taking everything so seriously.

“Children learn through play, adults learn through art.”

David Bowie, 1967

Eno’s modus operandi it to make stuff that’s “a continuation of what we do as children.” He recently released a new album on Warp Records called The Ship. He also created a ‘visual music’ light piece called The Zenith. Eno creates things he wished existed.

Both Eno and Bowie teach us to have fun with our curiosity by showing the world what we can see in our heads.