Music to Code By

Like many developers I enjoy listening to music while coding, and my musical selection changes depending on what I’m working on. When I’m in mad scientist mode and can’t seem to make my fingers type fast enough to keep up with me, I put on some variety of loud, obnoxious music to keep me going. But I usually put on something more subdued when I’m in bug fixing mode – which is the mode I’m in right now.

During my latest round of bug fixing I’ve been listening to an instrumental band called Shark Quest a lot, especially their latest CD Gods and Devils (which, btw, is available on iTunes). It’s perfect for more thoughtful coding, too.

So, how about you? What do you listen to while working?

39 thoughts on “Music to Code By

  1. I listen to the music I like. It’s not depend on the work I do.
    As for groups… “Suicide commando”, “Wumpscut”, “Feindflug” to name a few.
    “Metallica” is something like pop music for me :)

  2. I listen to the same type of music when in a coding frenzy. Lately, I’ve been listening to more electronic music for “normal” days. The beats, grooves, and rhythms set a nice flow to my day.
    Currently stuck in infinite play mode is the free, streaming radio station (through ShoutCast) SomaFM ( ). I highly recommend the Groove Salad stream. The station has really turned me on to a band called Fila Brazillia ( ).

  3. I typically listen to high-energy techno/electronica:
    Hooverphonic, Gus Gus, Juno Reactor, Future Sound of London, Information Society, Art of Noise, William Orbit, Crystal Method to name a few names.
    Considering I do most of my work late at night, I need something upbeat.

  4. Everything through from Slayer, System of a Down, and Minor Threat via Van der Graaf Generator, Kraftwerk, Einsturzende Neubauten to John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck.
    All I can say is hail MP3, my (full to bursting) 60GB Creative Zen and Shure E2C earphones – everything I need to ease me into the coding groove…

  5. eh, I’ve always been a bit of an oddball. For me, when I really need to concentrate and pump stuff out I put on mainly instrumental movie/TV scores like Star Wars, Batman, Babylon 5, with some classical music like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or some Beethoven. I tend to get…involved by lyrical music, and my co-workers really don’t enjoy listening to someone that makes William Hung sound like Bo Bice :)

  6. I listen mostly to slow funeral doom like Skepticism, Monolith, Mournful Congregation and Shape of Despair. It makes debugging look like work in slow motion =)

  7. Really depends on my mood and what I’m doing.
    Sometimes I’ve got really loud and hard music one (e.g. the Hardcore channel on DI.FM), and other times I listen to a 80’s Channel or general pop music.

  8. Well I’m a bit of a music junkie (extreme understatement). When I’m not making my own either in the studio or with one of my bands, I’m *constantly* playing something. Currently in rotation at the desk are:
    Weezer – the blue album 2-CD re-release
    Deathray – Believe Me
    Information Society – Peace & Love Inc
    Stretch Arm Strong – A Revolution Transmission
    The Kimberly Trip – You’ll Get Nothing And Like It
    The Brodys – Stuck
    Cause & Effect – The Sunrise EP
    …which are often mixed in with demos of whatever i’m working on in the studio that week.

  9. Wow, there are some good recommendations here. Feindflug is great.
    For coding frenzy days, try The Pain Machinery, Artzt+Pfusch, Sona Eact, T. Raumschmiere, or a good Renato Cohen set.
    Now for the debugging mood, perhaps Raison D’etre (there might be something avaiable at, and Arvo Pärt. Maybe Autechre. Also the Anti album by T. Raumschmiere.

  10. Coding:
    Mellow drum and bass – Omni Trio, LTJ Bukem, euphoric electronic – Ulrich Schnauss, BT, Plej
    The Sundays, Feist, Adem, Counting Crows, Frou Frou

  11. Like you, it all depends on what I am doing. Normally I like to listen to house music like Basement Jaxx, M.I.A., and other similar artists. But when I am developing code that requires some attention, I put on classical music like Bach and Mozart. It stimulates my mind to make me work better.

  12. Usually, I code to Stereolab, Archtecture in Helsinki, Tortoise, Thelonious Monk, Sufjan Stevens, or Beethoven.
    However, this week I’ve been listening to the Dungen album a lot.

  13. I also listen to Soma FM a lot (usually their “Secret Agent” feed or “Groove Salad”). Other favourites include Biosphere, Jan Garbarek, Nils Petter Molvaer, múm, Stina Nordenstam, Tosca, Philip Glass and Thievery corporation

  14. I am not a coder, per se. In my work to do a lot of systems stuff, though, I do need to “kick the jams.”
    I tend to go with jazz–the classics: Miles, Coltrane, and others. I also do the instrumentals–orchestral classics or soundtracks. Every once in a while, though, I get my gangsta on with some Snoop or Ludacris. Another good favorite: classic James Brown and the funky stuff he did.

  15. I definitely have different tones for different coding moods. When I my architect hat on and heavy into class design and patterns it’s more mellow. When I’m in monkey coder mode I go up a notch.
    Architecture Music:
    50 First Dates Soundtrack
    Airdrawndagger – Sasha
    Donnie Darko Soundtrack
    Ulrich Schnauss
    The Streets
    Irish fiddle & pipe music
    Garden State Soundtrack
    Sigor Ros
    Mad Monkey Coder Music:
    Rat Pack anything
    Flogging Molly
    The Gorillez
    The Killers
    Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Scum Of The Earth
    Said Mrad

  16. Thanks for the Soma FM hookup!
    Music I listen to while working:
    Philip Glass
    Any Baroque Music
    Patti Smith
    Joy Division
    Killing Joke
    Skinny Puppy
    Dead Can Dance

  17. I’ve been listening to either Demons & Wizards ‘Touched by the Crimson King’ or anything from Les Claypool lately. If you like Zappa, Nick I think you’d love Claypool’s work..

  18. Should I assume that Demons & Wizards are influenced by or related to King Crimson?
    King Crimson could easily be added to my previous list.

  19. There was little going on at work today, as the match was rained off (I write for a Cricket website). So I ended up putting my headphones on and listening to AC/DC again, which I love to listen to when writing! Odd choice perhaps. The best, though, for more contemplative (and dare I say it, intelligent and/or accurate!) pieces is Jazz, and Thelonious Monk…I write like a *fool* when that’s on.

  20. “In the Court of The Crimson King” is one of King Crimson’s Album titles. I haven’t read Dark Tower – might be a connection….
    21st Century Schizoid Man
    Everyone should try Shpongle. For jazz, I like Miles Davis (don’t tell him it’s Jazz!).

  21. I’m familar with Court of the Crimson King. IIRC, that album is based on Dante’s “Inferno”. No direct correlation to Kings “Dark Tower” series (which comprises 7 books in total). The Dark Tower series *does* have a couple of connections to the HP Lovecraft mythos, however (just some useless trivia I wanted to share).

  22. when i code i usually listen to bossanova and smooth jazz. then i alternate with trance, euro etc as it can get monotonous sometimes. sometimes im in the mood for 70s disco and 80s also. whatever it is has to have a smooth flow to it so as not to be too distracting.

  23. If I can’t shut my brain off after a long day of coding, nothing works better than to give my right brain half some attention. I do this by writing my own music, and I find it really works. This has the added benefit that while coding on the next day I can balance my brain by listening to the music I made the night before.

  24. Actually the music sets the tone for my work, no matter what my mood is. Normally it’s something fast and heavy, that would surely offend the neighbors.

  25. When I’m pounding out code, something loud and fun. When I’m trying to wrap my head around a complicated algorithm, though, nothing beats Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

  26. When I am in code frenzy, I listen to silence. Cant concentrate with any sound behind my head!
    Otherwise, I am a Metal and Psy Trance freak :)

  27. For me it’s a lot of The Mission (called The Mission UK in the USA to avoid confusion with another band by the same name) while I’m coding… especially these songs:
    Evangeline (off the Aura album)
    Lay Your Hand On Me (Aura)
    Like a Child Again (Sum & Substance)
    Never Again (Sum & Substance) – love this one
    Tower of Strength (Children)
    Butterfly on a Wheel (Carved in Sand)
    Wasteland (Children)
    and the list goes on… :-)
    A few other songs from other artists that also work well:
    Godsmack – Serenity (EXCELLENT!)
    Audioslave – Show Me How To Live
    Queens of the Stone Age – First It Giveth
    Seether – Fine Again
    The Killers – Somebody Told Me
    Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
    Garbage – #1 Crush
    Keane – Everyone’s Changing
    Conjure One – Centre of the Sun
    (you can see I’m working from a favourite playlist of mine can’t you- I’ll stop here!)

  28. There are times when – like a poster above – it has to be silence.
    Other than that, jazz mostly, though right now I have Blood Ulmer’s ‘Memphis Blood’ sessions on.
    Note to Nick: try eMusic. They have a pile of Zappa for the downloading, and you can 50 free downloads as a trial. I got a pile of Zappa that way, and it worked out to less than $3 an album, while the files are in pristine, un-DRM’ed mp3.
    Scott Atkinson
    Watertown NY

  29. My favorite: Mudvayne – Lost and Found. Metallica is excellent to get some work done.
    When architecting, I am usually so immersed in what I am thinking about – staring blankly at the screen, or writing on a pad – that I dont hear if music is playing or not.

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