Our Revision Music Commandments


Let’s admit it, it’s that time of year and we’re all procrastinating. In fact, I should probably be writing an essay right now. So, we at The Edge wanted to share with you all our recommended bands, artists and albums that we find help us stay focused as we try to revise or write essays.

Obviously, everyone has a different taste in music, so you might find that some of these aren’t your cup of tea. Nonetheless, after a quite lengthy discussion with my fellow writers, we identified a series of traits and a pattern to our recommendations that in hindsight, seem rather logical when selecting your working playlist. Some of us can’t listen to music at all when we’re typing away; others just like to have their favourite tune on repeat. But, those of us that do largely follow these commandments.

  • Thou shalt remain calm

Fast and loud music will be distracting as you’re trying to smash away at that 3000 word assignment you’ve put off until the last minute. This will be even worse, when you’re going back through revision notes or, God forbid, reading all your core texts just prior to your exam. Instead, we recommend something calm and melodic. If it’s folky or alternative it’s even better.

  • Thou shalt not distinguish vocals

It’s incredibly difficult to focus on the words you’re reading or writing when someone’s talking in your ear, it’s even worse when they’ve got a lovely, catchy melody behind them. We find that if it’s not an instrumental track, then we work best when the vocals are quiet, almost inaudible, or ideally in a foreign language. (Yeah, we’re hipsters)

  • Thou shalt enjoy it

It sounds silly, but we’re recommending bands here that you might despise. It’s going to be difficult for you to concentrate and work if you despise the music being played in the background. For this reason, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that if it’s a guilty pleasure that you’re too embarrassed to listen to at any other point, but it works for you, then by all means blare it out!

  • Love thy neighbour

That is to say – be considerate. You won’t be the only one working, so keep the music down a little bit. You’ll also find that if you’re playing your music too loudly, you’ll simply distract yourself.

  • Six days shalt thou labour

If your music is distracting you, no matter how much you enjoy it, you should probably change it. However, treat yourself during your revision breaks (which you’ll likely be kidding yourself into taking every 30 minutes or so) to some of your favourite tracks. Everyone loves The Clash, and this is probably my favourite song ever.

  • On the seventh, thou shalt rave.

Yes, it’s the exam period but make sure you make some time for yourself. Go out with your friends, have a good time and so long as you don’t stay out too late or get too drunk you’ll feel better for it. It’s good to let off steam. And when exams are over, have a blow out!

I wish you all the best of luck and hope this helps you out! Before I sign off, a quick list of artists we here at The Edge strongly recommend that have not been linked above: Beirut; Arcade Fire; Belle & Sebastian; Michael Kiwanuka; Chromatics; Philip Glass; The Antlers; Radiohead; Mogwai; Stornoway; Band of Horses. The list could go on and we’d love to hear your suggestions.

Many thanks to Megan Downing, Jan Kobal, David Martin, Daniel Tovey and everyone else that contributed to this article.


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    • Andrew J Ovenden on

      Many thanks, Miss Downing. I did manage to get the essay done immediately after writing this as well! Needless to say, I was following the commandments quite rigidly.

  1. Michael Perry on

    Great article, and great song choices! My personal ‘essay’ album is Four Tet’s There Is Love In You, otherwise I find soundtracks quite a good shout =)

  2. Great article and some good choices! Sometimes it’s too easy to find yourself listening to your favourites, and then spending too much time singing along rather than revising… I find David’s Piano Mix quite a good relaxing, non-vocal background mix while working (http://susu.tv/videos/watch/1154/Piano-Mix-2011 if you haven’t heard it yet)

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