Study: A Very Loose Look at Music and it’s Role in the Creative World (or at least mine)
December 14, 2011
Music, like many art forms music is credited to have special powers, which range from increased productivity to healing power and improved health. Specific genres are even argued to play a role in how we respond whether fully conscious or not at all.
In 1991 Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis coined the “Mozart Effect” while studying the ability of classical music to help the human brain develop. A study later published in 1993 called Music and Spatial Task Performance was published in Nature Magazine and showed that participants’ IQ scores were eight to nine points higher after listening to a Mozart sonata.
Now, I’m no scientist, but over the course of 2010 I very loosely monitored the type of music I listened to while performing daily work routine. iTunes lends a hand in making the research a little easier and likely adds more accuracy as well. The three tasks I focused on were project planning or strategy, design and various creative work (unfortunately I did not distinguish which type of design whether it be logo design, web design or mobile app design) and web development.
What I found during in the results was interesting in that I fell into a specific music preference pattern depending on the task I was performing. On top of that, there appears to be direct correlation to the genre of preference during each specific task.
While performing the planning and/or strategy stage I listened to Jazz music more often than not. Most of this was tuned in via radio or iTunes from a local Jazz music station, JazzFM 91.1.
During the design and various creative stages I mostly listened to two different genres, rock and electronic, with rock winning out by about 85%. Let’s call it the winner to keep things simple.
And during the development stages I most often chose electronic or beat-driven music like Trip-Hop or Dub Step (insert one of too many related genres here). Over 80% of this music was streamed via various Internet radio channels included in iTunes – no, this is not meant to be an ad for iTunes.
Because each project is innately unique and requires varying amounts of attention at each phase of a project, I wasn’t too concerned (or maybe motivated is the best fit?) with tracking the percentages of time allocated to each stage of time devoted to any given project.
Now I’ve spent some time searching the Internet for information on how each of these genres specifically affects our behaviour and it seems as though there are many opinions ranging from no affect at all, to anything you can imagine. I suppose it’s safe to say that there is no concrete evidence to support any one theory readily available. However, in case you’re interested, below is a list of the top 10 most listened-to songs or streams from each category according to my iTunes library.
Top 10 Jazz streams or songs:
- JazzFM 91.1 (via radio and iTunes)
- CBC Radio Jazz (via iTunes)
- Oh My My – Jill Barber
- I’m Going Down the River – Ray Charles
- Fever – Michael Bublé
- Light As a Feather – Norah Jones
- Peter Gunn – Henry Mancini
- Sunshine Superman – Emilie-Claire Barlow
- Lady Sings the Blues – Dee Dee Bridgewater
- 10. The Best is Yet to Come – Michael Bublé
Top 10 Rock songs:
- Cage the Elephant – In One Ear
- Seether – Fake It
- Shuffle Your Feet – Black Revel Motorcycle Club
- Society – Eddie Vedder (Into the Wild Sountrack)
- Ohio – Neil Young (Live at Massey Hall version)
- The Dead Can’t Testify – Billy Talent
- Come As You Are – Nirvana (MTV Unplugged in New York version)
- Who Invited You – The Donnas
- Geek USA – The Smashing Pumpkins
- 10. In The Garage – Weezer
Top 10 Electronic streams or songs:
- Deep Vibes Radio (via iTunes)
- Groove Salad Radio (via iTunes)
- Chill-Out Radio (via iTunes)
- Kids With Guns – Gorillaz
- Time Out of the World – Goldfrapp
- The Plow – Champion
- Blindfold – Morecheeba
- African Pirates – Nightmares on Wax
- Pedestal – Portishead
- 10. Superrob – Tosca
Now because I have the rare freedom to make my own hours, not all of these measurements are taken from a regular 9:00 am to 5:00 pm workday spanning Monday to Friday, 50 weeks per year. There are often times when I am working late into the evening or even early into the morning if a deadline requires. During these times I almost exclusively chose to listen to classical music and chose Jazz on the odd occasion. Nor are these statistics limited to a regular office environment. During most of the summer I am working remotely from the cottage usually indoors, but sometimes even outdoors (or parked in my car in the closest town if my iPhone signal is too weak). To create a very rough insight into my habits and to ensure that I would keep up with the practice of noting these musical preferences throughout the year, I’ve kept things very simple.