Being both a programmer and a musician, I find the best way to keep me rolling forward in any situation is to stick the earphones in, smack on a good tune and get lost in the well composed world of (preferably not) spaghetti code and appropriate jams…
But what are the appropriate jams?
Today, I’ll talk about my favourite genres of music and where I believe them to be applicable in my programming work cycle.
Design is one of those stages in development that is extremely beneficial yet often extremely tedious. Personally, I like something that will keep me in the flow of a stable and settled mind set. And what’s better for that than lo-fi! Perfect for keeping the brain in a steady “tick tock” type state and making those design tasks that little bit more enjoyable that they already were.
Personal recommendation: ChilledCow’s lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to on YouTube. (Honestly, this livestream has carried me through a lot of lengthy solo design sessions).
The exciting part: actually beginning to program something. Always fun, always enjoyable. I always find this to be the best time for pulling out my Electronic/Dance music playlist on iTunes. It’s the type of music that gets your head bobbing with good vibes and joyful times – just what you need to get the ball rolling on your programming project.
Personal Recommendation: Anything by Daft Punk – I’ll be honest, Discovery is my favourite to have on in the background but pretty much anything by these guys that came out after 2000 is a great coding jam.
Well… Here we are again, faced by the inevitable break in your code that needs fixing. Worst part is, you know that fixing this one will only make more. It’s a time where all you can do is sit and stare at that little red cross in the testing window on your computer in disbelief that this 500th attempt and repairing your system still hasn’t made a difference.
In situations like these? it’s crucial that you don’t flip the desk – so we need something calming and slow to keep the head clear. My suggestion? Chillstep. Sometimes falls into the category of electronica, but consists of smooth string pads and gentle ambient soundscapes that’ll send you to a calm place – perfect in your bug fixing/test repairing predicaments
Personal Recommendation: The Reach For Glory Album by Blackmill – Fits the criteria perfectly and just creates a nice ambience to keep your head levelled in these stressful times.
The Rise from Crippling Errors
What’s this? The tests have all passed?? The final stretch is nearing and you’re on the rise! You can see the end on the horizon and after this long sprint, you need something to drive you there. Something pumping and something heavy…
Although it’s a generally less favoured genre, at this point I tend to stick to my preferred metal jams. The high tempo and upbeat rhythms of certain artists in this area really help to boost your energy and give you that final push to the finish line (which is exactly what I need after a solid few hours or days of testing and debugging).
Personal Recommendation: The As Daylight Dies album by Killswitch Engage – I might be a bit biased in picking these guys, but this album does have a good set of driving jams (This is Absolution and Holy Diver being two of my personal favourites).
…Or for the sake of shameless self-promotion, music by yours truly…
The Finish Line! (and dealing with the realisation that the concept of a finish line is a lie)
You made it! Polishing is done, bugs are fixed (supposedly), you pushed through to the end and you can move on. Of course, at this point you realise that moving on just means going through the whole process again with a brand-new project so hold on to that feeling of accomplishment as long as you can with some classic, good vibes tunes.
Honestly, I don’t have any specific recommendations for this one - but for some reference these could include:
- Kool & The Gang – Celebration
- Most things by the Jackson 5
- Most things by Stevie Wonder
- John Legend – Used to Love U
The list goes on! This one really is completely down to personal preference and could be absolutely anything that you like to listen to for your victory move.
Keep it Entertaining
As a programmer, fun is always crucial to keeping the job entertaining. And to me, music of all different kinds is the perfect way to bring the fun without preventing the flow of coding wizardry. Now go forth and fill your programming life with juice!
Do you listen to music when you're coding? Tell us about it in the comments below: