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Hussein Al Hammad
Hussein Al Hammad

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Favourite albums to listen to while coding

Like many developers I often put my headphones on when coding. It helps me get in the zone, block out other distractions and get into that flow state.

Not all types of music helps me though. I find what works for me best is listening to instrumental albums, particularly progressive rock/metal. The tracks feel structured and often flow nicely.

And the flow is not just on a track-by-track basis. The whole album just flows and, as a result, so do my thoughts. So I don't play these on shuffle (who plays albums on shuffle?). I also occasionally play them at the gym too!

Below is a list of my favourite instrumental albums to listen to while coding. And here's a Spotify playlist containing them all.

1. (II) by Toundra

2. Mozaic by Sunset in the 12th House

3. Back to Earth by Exxasens

4. Boundless by Long Distance Calling

5. (III) by Toundra

6. O by The Gentle Art of Cooking People

Top comments (109)

milan997 profile image

I almost exclusively listen to albums by Aphex Twin while coding. It's electronic music but very diverse genre-wise, spanning from ambient all the way to acid house. Also try Boards of Canada, Autechre, Venetian Snares, Squarepusher, all great artists.

There's no lyrics, I can't learn or code with any music that has words in it.

melinda_gray_db168311ee29 profile image
Melinda Gray

Yasss! Try odium last century. I play it on a loop.

chrisoram_76 profile image
Chris Oram

I certainly can second the Venetian Snares suggestion in this - i think the best album to start off with would be - Rossz Csillag Alatt Született.
On the progressive-rock/metal leaning by the OP i tend to err that way too. My go-to 'rotation' would be, the California band - ISIS (unfortunately their name has been a tad appropriated now...), Red Sparowes, And So I Watch You From Afar, Bossk and Explosions In The Sky.

Otherwise i tend to feel if i am on too much of a playlist consisting of electro-glitch type music that I feel like I am pretending to be in Swordfish...

hus_hmd profile image
Hussein Al Hammad

Thanks for the suggestions. While I'm not usually into electronic music, these seem good!

milan997 profile image

Actually, I'm really a rap/metal guy, usually very extreme metal, including the above mentioned ISIS, one of my fav bands since I heard Oceanic first time.

But for 'productive' purposes such as coding I strongly prefer simpler, minimalistic music. Helps me focus on the work and not the lyrics.

emiguelt profile image
Edwin Miguel
eyemyth profile image
Jay Thompson

My favorites: episodes 6, 12, 13, 28, and 47.

matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

Anything by the Cocteau Twins is good, particularly the early stuff. Because Liz Fraser's lyrics were famously incomprehensible, and the guitars were swamped in effects to create a very unusual sound, it doesn't command attention in the same way something with comprehensible lyrics might.

hus_hmd profile image
Hussein Al Hammad

Just checked a few of their songs; I'm digging it!

matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

First three albums are the best, Garlands, Head over Heels and Treasure. The later stuff where Liz Fraser's voice becomes more comprehensible isn't as good IMHO.

sleepyfran profile image
Fran González • Edited

I'm really amazed that a couple of albums of your list are by a band from my country! Yay Toundra!

On a side note, what I usually listen to while coding:

Singularity by Jon Hopkins
Tunnel Blanket by This Will Destroy You
Wild Light by 65daysofstatic
Fair Youth by Maybeshewill

And well, I put some of their albums but really all the albums by those guys are perfect for this. Generally just Post-Rock, IDM and such is the way to go since it's interesting music but not too distracting.

srjavij profile image

I was here too to give kudos for listening to Toundra, definetely one of my favourites.

Someone mentioned Aphex Twin and I couldn't agree more specially Selected Ambient Works 85-92.

I also have been enjoying any Tool album or King Jizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

ehmo profile image
Emil Georgiev

Also check out "The fall of math" by 65daysofstatic
Such an incredible album.

"The hawk is howling" by Mogwai - also pretty amazing.

hus_hmd profile image
Hussein Al Hammad

Yeah Toundra are awesome!

I haven't listened to Maybeshewill's Fair Youth album in a while I forgot how good it is. Really easy on the ear. I should add it to the playlist!

From the ones you listed I'm also familiar with This Will Destroy You and 65daysofstatic, but haven't heard of Jon Hopkins. I'll give Singularity a listen.

Thanks, Fran!

erikpischel profile image
Erik Pischel

Check out "god is an astronaut" and "the third and the mortal"

sleepyfran profile image
Fran González

I'm not a big fan of God Is An Astronaut, but I'll surely check out The Third and the Mortal, thanks!

hus_hmd profile image
Hussein Al Hammad

'God is an Astronaut' is another good band! I haven't heard of 'The Third and the Mortal" though; I'll check them out. Thanks, Erik.

nickjj profile image
Nick Janetakis

I listen to a huge assortment of melodic death metal and deathcore but also throw in some ambient / epic instrumentals too.

I have a private Youtube playlist with around 500 songs but I'm afraid to make it public because it'll be visible on my channel which is where I post videos on software development topics.

I can't just have people browsing around Docker and Flask videos and then they're suddenly hit with a song like this without any context -- and that's a pretty tame one.

akiramakes profile image

Hahaha I love it

hus_hmd profile image
Hussein Al Hammad

I think you can make playlists "unlisted" now so you can share it, but it won't be listed if someone visits your channel.

conorlogan profile image
Conor Logan

@hus_hmd Great list! Turning me onto Mozaic is unbelievable, this album is so fucking good for getting any work done, period. On a similar vein, I'm loving 'Umbras De Barbagia' by Downfall of Nur

chasestevens profile image
Chase Stevens

Here are ten albums I like to work to, from least jazzy to most jazzy (note: none of these are actually jazz). Enjoy!

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

In a good mood, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon or Wish You Were Here are two of my favorites. Otherwise something prog rock to jazz-rock.

In a cranky mood or wanting to build up energy, Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power or Social Distortion's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell or self titled album. Otherwise something punk and angry.

At other times I listen to a wide variety of music although it will be guitar oriented 90% of the time. Last week I listened the new Larkin Poe album and Johnny Marr's latest one.

migben profile image
Miguel Ben

These are my favorites while coding:

  1. Castlevania - SOTN

  2. Chrono Trigger ost -snes

  3. Soul Calibur VI ost

  4. x-men V streetFighter ost

  5. Megaman X

Note: From time to time I switch to FCC youtube live music stream.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

For heavy concentration I listen to C418-One, Jim Guthrie and similar indie-game-soundtracks. For regular work I listen to nothing in particular, usually Ryan Adams or Rockstah. For no-brainer-work like HTML/CSS or while cycling I prefer podcasts.

codechimp profile image
Andrew Jackson • Edited

Favour electronic music whilst I code, my two go to's are

Geometry by Tripswitch when I need to focus on something.

20 Ximer by Orkidea has a really nice fast hard beat to it which is great for banging out repetitive code.

mohsens22 profile image
Mohsen Seifi • Edited

I have a large prog rock/prog metal record collection, but I listen to these albums very often

1- Fear of a Blank planet(Mostly from "Anesthetize" live DVD) // Porcupine tree
2- The incident // Porcupine tree
3- The dark side of the moon // Pink Floyd
4- Sky moves sideways // Porcupine tree
5- Raven that refused to sing // Steven Wilson
6- To the bone // Steven Wilson
7- Hand cannot erase // Steven Wilson
8- Blackfield, Blackfield II (Mosy from NYC live DVD) //Blackfield
9- A natural disaster // Anathema
10- Cheating the polygraph // Gavin harrison
11- Rajaz // Camel
12- Stationary traveller // Camel
13- In the cort of the crimson king // King crimson
14- Wish you were here // Pink Floyd
15- Distant satellites // Anathema
16- Arriving somewhere... (LIVE DVD) // Porcupine tree

theskipper profile image

Arch Enemy / Jinjer (any melodic d.m.) - Getting started, motivational
Lords of Iron (Celtic metal) - This is for most of the time,
Star Trek Enterprise noise - Heavy concentration
New Retro Wave

Sometimes just having headphones with no music does the trick
( I probably don't even notice that the playlist ended and got replaced by my internal humming/singing )

equiman profile image
Camilo Martinez

I never seen something more geek than Star Trek Enterprise noise LOL!

It's like programming at maximum warp!

jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser

I usually listen to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" when I need to focus, anything by Girl Talk when I'm writing tests or debugging, and lots of Pantera, Metallica, Lamb of God, or anything else metal while doing tedious work.

zegmonteiro profile image
José Guilherme Tavares Monteiro

"Music to flow by" songs are my favorite. They are made by a programmer. Has the exact lenght to make it easier to do the pomodoro technique and it is indeed good music!