Music and work

I found this piece in an old notebook, dated November 13, 2013.

Some like to listen to music at work, some don’t.
I had a revelation about what music does in the context of work– I wonder if this is a common opinion– which I think is a more productive analysis.
Instead of it being so black and white (person A CANNOT work with music on, completely distracts him, while person B cannot work WITHOUT music on) what I feel music helps to do is SET THE PACE of any particular work day. On a fast day, where it is just a CAD grind ahead of me and I know it, UK Garage, LaMonte Young, Laraaji works great. On slower days where I spend more time on the phone, I prefer baroque, or Nick Drake types. On creatively charged days, where there is no deadline and I am forced to create all the decisions, bebop works well, as does instrumental hip hop.
This is a greater point I am trying to make– that there is a benefit to being open to all kinds of music, because you never know which ones will serve you best in any situation.
(How I discovered driving music: alt rock, Stone Temple Pilots, anthemic pop, the 80s, a song like “Cry” by Gayngs or “Ventura Highway” by America‚Ķ great thanks to Dacha and Charlotte)
This is often how I group music in my own library– not by genre or by artist, but by categories like “rainy day” or “brunch” or “drive” or “dinner” (yes, there’s even a “sex” playlist). Websites like Songza have latched onto this specific way of approaching music. Music is another one of those things that can either perfectly ‘fall into’ a situation, or it can actively ‘set’ the situation itself. If I allow it that influence, the rest of my actions are forced into following step– the idea being that sometimes there are tasks that need more than my power of will to force into action. Sometimes you have to invite them to dance.

If you recall, Songza was that music streaming service active in the early 2010s, like a Pandora 2.0, built primarily on bespoke situational playlists. How innovative it seemed then, how obvious it seems now. Songza was bought by Google Play Music in January 2016.

By the.vonz.himanen

Ivan Himanen is an architect, writer, and artist based in New York City.

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