Compiling the perfect revision playlist

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As exam period is approaching, it is essential that we arm ourselves with techniques that make studying more enjoyable and less stressful. For this reason, here are some suggestions on what music you should listen to while preparing for your finals! I must point out that these are only personal opinions; it’s here to help those who love music but struggle to concentrate and revise with their favourite tracks on in the background. After all, music can be a powerful tool when revising – it creates a surrounding atmosphere that serves as a backdrop for when you’re making notes, reading through them, and trying to memorize them, but, of course, not all types of music help us in doing so.

Firstly, while revising you should aim to absolutely avoid any ‘wordy’ music genre like hip-hop. Even if you enjoy listening to Rick Ross’ drug lord escapades and the lavish beats that accompany them, from experience it is not the ideal genre to listen to while studying as the amount of words is bound to make you lose concentration quickly. The same goes for other ‘wordy’ genres like – ironically – spoken word, but also a couple of types of rock music like punk or even rock and roll. For example, Subterranean Homesick Blues is a great song, but Bob Dylan’s fast, stream-of-consciousness lyrics are not exactly ideal when you’re trying to concentrate and memorise.

The safest bet is going for instrumental music instead. Whether it’s classical, ambient, or electronica, these genres do not require any further mental effort other than creating a placid, tranquil environment. My personal favorite when it comes to this type of music is Gregorian as it helps create a solemn, meditative listening experience; I would suggest in particular Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Notre Dame and Allegri’s Miserere, which are unique in this particular field. My favorite ambient artist on the other hand is Aphex Twin, whose ambient records such as Selected Ambient Works 85-92 also help create a contemplative atmosphere that can help your studies.

If you’re more into more mainstream genres, I suggest three albums that also offer a distinctively atmospheric listening experience; those would have to be Kid A and Amnesiac by Radiohead and the more recent release An Awesome Wave by Alt-J. These albums blend rock sounds with electronic, jazz and experimental ones. Radiohead’s albums create a chilled out atmosphere without making you fall asleep on the first track, while Alt-J’s more tender music style is also effective. If you are a big rock or metal fan and feel that listening to it helps you concentrate, I suggest you swap listening to the original tracks for their acoustic variants of whatever songs you like; the fact that it won’t pound your eardrum excessively can easily create a good working atmosphere that prevents any form of distraction.

Unfortunately, songs and albums don’t last forever – which is why nowadays we have online services like Last.fm and Spotify that give us the chance to create playlists. Although Spotify is great at doing this, often it takes a lot of time to individually research the best music for your revision, which is why you can now use free apps like ‘Lazify’ to create playlists for you by simply dragging and dropping a specific tune to its page. That way you can listen to the best music for revising without having to worry about which song to listen to next.

These are some suggestions for which music to consider listening to as you’re roaming through your studies. Of course, some people might have their own special tastes, but for those who feel they get too distracted by music  these might well have saved your day!

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