Music for Programming Productivity

Music for Programming Screenshot

With a 24-hour society and the responsibilities that come along with it, it can be hard to get your head into a calm, productive place. For many, music does a great job of getting the mind ready to work, but with distracting lyrics and prominent percussion, it can sometimes do more harm than good.

musicForProgramming() came out of that very need, to have ready access to non-distracting music while programming or doing other tasks. As creator John Davies stated about the project:

Through years of trial and error – skipping around internet radio stations, playing our entire music collections on shuffle, or just hammering single albums on repeat, we have found that the most effective music to aid prolonged periods of intense concentration tends to have a mixture of the following qualities:

Field recordings
Vagueness (Hypnagogia)
Textures without rhythm
Minor complex chords
Early music (Baroque, lute, harpsichord)
Very few drums or vocals
Synth arpeggios
Awesome / daunting / foreboding
Walls of reverb

Music possessing these qualities can often provide just the right amount of interest to occupy the parts of your brain that would otherwise be left free to wander and lead to distraction during your work.

musicForProgramming() consists of 44 roughly hour-long episodes compiled by various programmers consisting of music that will aid concentration without getting in the way. It can be used as a radio station within your browser, and there is even an NPM package for use right within one of your terminal windows, created by Richard Denton.

Music for Programmers Terminal Screenshot

Not only is the CLI version more convenient for regular use while programming, but it also allows the option of playing rain instead of or in addition to the music, which makes it even more effective.

To play this in your terminal, make sure you have the most up-to-date version of nodejs and npm or yarn.

Before installing, you need to make sure you have libasound2-dev installed if you’re going to run this on Linux:

sudo apt-get install libasound2-dev

Then to install the package, simply use:

npm install -g music-for-programming

And to use it simply type:


How do music and other concentration tools help you get your coding done? Feel free to share in the comments.

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