Can you work hard while listening to music?

Could we please hear your recommendations for music that wouldn't ruin your productivity or concentration at work?

My general happiness in life is so improved by music that I would like to put a stereo in my office -- but some of my work can be very technical and I don't want to be too absorbed or distracted.

Of course, I am not talking about "elevator music" -- just trying to identify things (not just classical) that are rich and worthy of repeated listening/study, yet perhaps also have a soothing or meditative quality.

Perhaps this is extremely personal and also varies greatly depending on ones profession -- but if something works for you, perhaps you could remind us of what you do to pay for all of your expensive audio gear.

Thank you.
I suppose it depends. It's been researched in the operating room and found that surgeons work better when listening to music, and that they work best when it's their choice. I can't remember if they listed what they listen to, but i've worked with neurosurgeons who crank out to Iron Maiden, and do great work, and have had to do hearts with a guy who used to listen to Anne Murray (gag me!) over and over again.... I think it depends on your personal taste.

BTW: The neurosurgeon used to turn it down for the really key parts of surgery.
I recommend:
John Handy "Hard Work"
Miles Davis "Workin'"
10 Years After "Workin' on the Road"
Steely Dan "Dirty Work"
4 Tops "Workin' My Way Back to You"
Bachmann Turner Overdrive "Takin' Care of Business"
Grateful Dead "Workingman's Dead"
Johnny Paycheck "Take This Job and Shove It"
Tennesse Ernie Ford "Sixteen Tons"
That's all for now. :^)
Twl, you forgot "I've been working on the railroad"...

Cwlondon, excellent thread! I hope you'll get a ton of responses. One trick that I've found to be effective when working from my home office is to play music of any kind - light jazz is best - at moderate levels in another nearby room (with the door open, of course). Although I have a nice office system and a headphone setup as well, it's much less involving and therefore less distracting to have the source further away from my work area - which, for me, is a desk, and a textbook that I ought to be revising.
Yeah, for me it has to be wallpaper. If it involves me almost at all, it's distracting me too far from what I'm doing.

And these days, I have so many meetings and conference calls that I can't even have it on at all, even though I work mostly from home.
How could I have forgotten "I've been working on the railroad"?! Somebody slap me!
TWL -- You also forgot Devo: Workin' in a Coal Mine.....but I meant this to be a serious thread.

Has anyone heard about research done on the effect of various composers on intellectual development? Or is the baby Mozart stuff just some hoax marketed to striving yuppie parents?

Also, I seem to recall a couple of things that were apparently composed for insommnia? I don't want to fall asleep at my desk, but at least this type of music might not agitate or distract me. Bach's Inventions?

I would also greatly appreciate any suggestions on softer meditative jazz especially performed by the great giants -- I might get sacked if anyone heard Kenny G wafting out of my office....
I find it depends on the environment. When I was in an office with a lot of noise and other people talking around me, the music helped keep me focussed on what was important. Phone conversations do not work with music--for obvious reasons, but some of the time I really did not want to be talking to the person and would prefer to be listening (or concetrating on the music) and would tune the person out. That's really not a very good idea. Frequently I can get so absorbed in a project, even mathmatical proofs--I'll stop for a second and say--gosh I wish I had listened to that last track. As to the baby mozart--there are studies that have shown increase intelligence (there are studies that show just about anything you want them too--if you give enough of just about anything to a rat it will eventually die of cancer too). That being said, our toddler loves those videos and actually interacts with them--talks, counts, etc. as opposed to almost any other video. So I personally think there is something to them (but I have absolutely no qualifications here other than being a Dad).
Okay, CW, sorry about the "working" songs. To your point, I have found that I like to listen to soothing music while working. Something that doesn't require much attention. The hard rock stuff, although I enjoy it, has an agitating effect on me, and I get short tempered. I have found that "smooth jazz" is about right for me while I'm working. As for babies, anything that you expose them to will have some kind of effect on them, just as it does on us. They will view it differently, though, since they have limited experiences to relate it to. And BTW, I thought of "Workin' in a Coal Mine", but I couldn't remember it was Devo. :^)
I love working to music. I'm surprised I don't drive my office neighbors crazy. The music can range from the Rolling Stones to Beethoven symphonies to (more frequently) chamber music and jazz.

I enjoy Mozart and Bach (especially by Glenn Gould - I swear he not only helps me think more clearly, he can cure my headaches). Classical guitar or lute is nice. I love the sound of the cello, e.g. the Beethoven and Brahms cello sonatas.

For jazz - the two artists I listen to most frequently are Bill Evans and The Modern Jazz Quartet.

For the most part, I cannot listen to vocal music while I am reading.

You wrote:

Or is the baby Mozart stuff just some hoax marketed to striving yuppie parents?

If you are referring to the study that claimed that children who listened to classical music became more intelligent, it is a hoax. I am friends with a psychologist that was involved in the study for the state of GA and he downplays it. (Remember those CDs that were given out to new parents???)

As far as music and work or concentration go (in my experience), when I am able to block out the music and concentrate on the task at hand I am much more deeply focused. It only lasts for minutes at the time, though. But, when I am distracted, I am DISTRACTED!!!!!

The way I see it is, when I can shut the music out and concentrate for a while, I then reward myself with a little musical distraction. I repeat this process until I have accomplished what I set out to do, or give up and listen to some tunes. If the distraction becomes too powerful I go with silence then binge on music later when I have time.

Brad Day
Atlanta, GA
I am at this moment listening to Genesis Selling England by the Pound and banging out paperwork at my desk.

It is VERY therapeutic. As a matter of fact I am building a new building for my business and designing my office to better accommodate my system. I run a Resolution Audio CD 50 direct to a Counterpoint NPS 200A to Tyler Acoustic Ref monitors

Great fun

What about James Taylor "Dad Loves His Work" Isley Brothers "Work to Do" Mick Jagger "Let's Work" Disney's "Whistle While You Work".....

Seriously, I have had some luck on this subject with the Red Rose SACD: Elliot Fisk plays Bach and Scarletti. Peaceful, meditative and great recording. Very soothing while opening bills and reconciling expenses.