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Using Music To Work More Effectively www.forbes.com 3 mins read Do you listen to music when you work? I usually work in silence. But I was forced to make a choice recently at coffee shop where I had set up to write. Frank Sinatra was blasting full volume from the speakers. I couldn’t work because the music competed for my attention. So I took out my tiny ear buds and searched my music library for music that could propel me to work without distracting me. I had to find music that would put me in exactly the emotional and cognitive mind frame I wanted to be in, like a legal designer drug. I had to sonically engineer my environment. Companies hire experts to pick the music for their commercials, in their stores, and in their elevators. They create sonic environments that trigger particular moods, feelings, and memories. As Joel Beckerman and Tyler Gray write in The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy, sounds and music are emotional engines. Sounds can be used to “rope in other senses, spark memories, tell rich stories with incredible efficiency, and, most importantly, elicit feelings. ” They use the exle of the food chain Chili’s, which has effectively used sonic engineering to associate itself with the sizzle. Beckerman is a veteran composer, producer and arranger and the founder of Man Made Music, which helps companies strategically use sounds and music to build their brand. I asked Beckerman how we could use sonic engineering to help people be more effective at work. The first step, he said, is to recognize when you’re surrounded by the wrong music. “If you don’t like the music going on around you, change it,” he said. “Remember that you have a choice in the soundtrack of your life. You can curate it. You don’t have to be a victim of the sound that’s around you.” At my request, Beckerman and Man Made music supervisor Kristy Zeigler created six Spotify playlists for eliciting several kinds of desired states. Be Active. If you’re feeling sluggish and you want an energy boost, this is the playlist for you. “It’s the kind of thing that would juice you up on the way to the gym and that you could also work out to, or it also could be music to pump you up to get stuff done after a lazy Sunday morning,” Beckerman said. Be Motivated. These are more mid-tempo songs that have an uplifting effect. “Let’s say you’re going to go ask your boss for a raise, that might be the music you’d want to play right before. It’s go to war music,” he said. “It could also be the beginning of the road trip.” PROMOTED Be Productive. “This one is when it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and you can either go downstairs and get a coffee or you listen to this playlist,” said Beckerman. It’s the playlist for getting things done. Whereas “Be Active” is the playlist to get you pumped up, this one is for cranking out results. It keeps you moving forward without distracting you from your work. Be Inspired. This is a playlist for creating an open state of mind. It includes music with a sense of space and airiness. “It’s a sense of unusual colors and being transported,” Beckerman said, “a sense of being on a journey.” You could use this playlist when you need to come up with ideas or just a general lift in your mood. Be Creative. This is the playlist for when you want to come up with completely fresh and original ideas. It’s good music to listen to on the way to work. “This playlist is more unexpected, less structured, more surprising. It is supposed to be evocative,” said Beckerman. Kristy Zeigler adds that both “Be Inspired” and the “Be Creative” are good as background music for group meetings, especially to play while everyone is gathering, to get them into a similar state of mind. “We play playlists on our Monday morning meetings,” she told me. “They are really fun and inspiring and can kick things off in a group setting.” Be Calm. This is music to calm you down. It tends to have longer phrases and longer melodies and develop more slowly. The songs are less percussive. “It’s more about slow development and textures that move through slowly and melodic ideas that take longer to develop,” Beckerman said. Try these playlists to see whether you can create your desired moods at work . We read about engineering the right visual environment for work, but we don’t always give as much thought to our sonic environment, which is incredibly powerful. After reading The Sonic Boom I realized that my ears are constantly assaulted by inappropriate sounds. Inappropriate both in the sense of too loud and in the sense of not being a good fit with the mood or state I need to be in. On that day in the coffee shop, I discovered that my productivity music is late 1990s electronica. This is the song I played on repeat. I recommend it for anyone wanting to get things done. When I want to open up my “doors of perception,” I like to listen to Pixies or M.I.A, two artists whose originally, unexpectedness, and richness of ideas inspire me to be more creative. Below is M.I.A.’s take on the Pixies’ classic “Where Is My Mind.” And to get calm, I turn to vocal jazz. Post1: Playlist COLLAPSE Be Active: Russell Dickerson – Blue Tacoma https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTiEn72SOA Be Motivated: Ken-Y, Zion, Lobo, Lennox, Arcangel, RKM – Diosa de los Corazones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGOKGDf6isw Be Productive: Karol G – Mi Cama https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft1s5fkhzZo Be Inspired: Deep Inside – Ikarus (from the Tandava album by Pathaan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96JZ6Pq2nlY Be Creative: Aurora Aksnes – Under the Water https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVGQWw4Ap6o Be Calm: Atticus Ross – This is love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxSXxWADCTw Post2: Playlist | COLLAPSE Be Active This Is How We Roll, Florida Georgia Line https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbxuXq_981s Be Motivated Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129kuDCQtHs Be Productive Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmK5_lnQUbE Be Inspired Don’t Stop Believing, Journey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k8craCGpgs Be Creative September, Earth, Wind #038; Fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs069dndIYk Be Calm Piano Man, Billy Joel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0 Post3: Music in the workplace COLLAPSE Be active: Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPf0YbXqDm0#038;list=PLTkU01h2I4vt0F5LCB8Ybb3QTQOI8PgAH Be motivated: Fight Song – Rachel Platten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc#038;list=PLhXQhpqBNAYsiwGQ6e4rxgbQ0gGVfKZ2u Be productive: Intentions – Justin Bieber featuring Quavo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AyMjyHu1bA#038;list=PLKUA473MWUv2jmkqIxzQR3YL4kuPArj4G Be inspired: Love myself – Hailee Steinfeld https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMpFmHSgC4Q#038;list=PLhXQhpqBNAYsiwGQ6e4rxgbQ0gGVfKZ2u#038;inde x=2 Be creative: Most Girls – Hailee Steinfeld https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBB_QOZNEdc Be calm: Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkyrIRyrRdY#038;list=PLUrnjrQfNl3sI3TS5_6POoKQb9m5Xgb-K#038;index=3
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