Music for Programming

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For as long as I’ve been programming I’ve been benefitting from auditory lubricant to focus my mind. The music and headphones don’t just serve to hone my typing, but also to block out distractions that can stop marathon coding sprints in their tracks. Over the years I have found a set of artists in a specific genre of music that works best for me. My coworkers have come to understand that my finger tapping and lyric mouthing aren’t signs of insanity, but rather that quality code is being written.

Some Suggestions

When listening to music while programming I like to try and hit a nice stride, bobbing my head to the beat becomes almost meditative. I don’t find vocals distracting as long as they are in sync with the beat of the song. The only place I have been able to consistently find that style of music is within the world of electronic music.

Myon and Shane 54

Relative newcomers on the electronic scene, these guys have been producing a top-notch podcast for over a year and a half. International Departures is the name of their podcast, which typically runs for an hour. It’s free and has over 50 episodes already existing. They are a great starting point for anyone new to the electronic scene since they do mashups of popular tracks and remix genres of music that don’t typically see the modern dance floor (think Nirvana).


You’ve probably already heard of him, but what you might not know is that he also has a weekly podcast full of free music. The podcast is called Club Life and is always on the cutting edge of the latest electronic tracks heard in clubs around the world. I also highly recommend his recent album, Kaleidoscope, which is fantastic.


He’s awesome not just because of his music, but also because he likes Minecraft. He makes wonderful beats that feel very synthetic and eletronicky™, quite fitting for a late night hack-a-thon if you ask me. His new album just came out a week ago, 4×4=12. Also make sure to check out some of his live performance videos; he performs while wearing a giant electronic mouse head, of course.


I have a soft spot for Röyksopp because they got me in to electronic music. I wish I could tell you they have a weekly podcast, because I would greatly enjoy it, but sadly they don’t. What I can do is list some of their best songs for you to listen to:

Daft Punk

I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of them. They have been around for a while and just released a new album in the form a soundtrack to a little old movie called Tron: Legacy. I also highly recommend the mashups they did of their own songs for the Alive 2007 album.


I didn’t realize how useful my headphones and pumping beats were at thwarting distractions until I read The 4-Hour Workweek. In it Timothy Ferriss states,

The cubicle is your temple—don’t permit casual visitors. Some suggest using a clear “do not disturb” sign of some type, but I have found that this is ignored unless you have an office. My approach was to put headphones on, even if I wasn’t listening to anything.

Ferris is trying to help his readers maximize the work they accomplish in a set amount of time by eliminating all distractions.  Up until I read this I had always assumed I gravitated to my headphones and music because I secretly wanted to be a DJ (still true), not because I wanted to keep others from bothering me while coding. Now that I understand how helpful my headphones are, I keep them on at all times.


I’m sure some of my readers don’t like to listen to electronic music while programming, please let me know below what your favorites are so my readers who aren’t glow stick ravers can enjoy them too!