Meditative Music for Quiet Concentration

There are a number of threads on music for different occasions, but here is a tricky one for me:

What music helps you concentrate, or get through difficult tasks at home or depending on your job - at work?

There are few things in life that can ruin my weekend more than gathering receipts for taxes, opening bills, writing boring but necessary letters, reading legal documents etc.

So it would be great to put something on repeat - not too loud and not too engaging, but still something worthwhile to absorb while tackling the nightmares in the "inbox".

I found Keith Jarret Facing You perfect for falling asleep years ago, but never for working. Something was a little TOO hypnotic about them for me.

I thought the Bach 1 and 2 part inventions might hit the spot - but there is something a little distracting adn tinkly about them.

Beethoven symphonies I love but they are far too varied - I would much rather STOP working and just listen.

Mozart and Vivaldi might work in some cases, if they hadnt been played to death in Starbucks all over the world which irritates me and therefore increases my stress. So please, no coffee shop compilations!?

Some Miles Davis ALMOST works, except what I really want to do within about 3 notes of Kind of Blue, for example, is go out on the Upper West Side and eat and drink until well past midnight.

So what can you listen to, when you need to stay calm, really focus and crank through a mountain of work?

Of course, and as usual, EXTRA CREDIT for particularly good recordings.

Thank you.
Bach unaccompanied suites for cello performed bt, e.g., Anner Bylsma, Jap ter Linden, Perenyi, Yo-Yo Ma.
Bach unaccompanied sonatas and partitas for violin peformed by Nathan Milstein on Deutsche Grammophone label (not the later version on EMI.)
Beethoven piano sonataa performed by Emil Gilels.
Mozart piano sonatas performed by Mitsuko Uchida.
Haydn string quartets - there are many good versions, but avoid Emerson Quartet like the plague.
Mozart and Beethoven string quartets performed by Quartetto Italiano.
Mozart string sextets on Philips.
Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven piano trios performed by Beaux Arts Trio.
Haydn piano sonatas performed by Alfred Brendel or Glenn Gould.
Schubert piano sonatas performed by Stephen Kovacevich.

Try one of the more minimal recordings of the amazing Australian ensemble, The Necks. Probably 'Aether' or the new one 'Mosquito/See Through'. Their masterworks, 'Hanging Gardens' and 'Drive By' are a little too swirling and energetic perhaps, but highly recommended. A jazz musician, Tony Scott, did a record called 'Music for Zen Meditation' that looks like it may be an exercise in kitsch, but is really a truly excellent recording of Eastern influenced jazz...relaxing and laid back but not at all fluffy. Their's some excellent ambient electronica out there, but it's quite a task to wade through the immense amount of material. I personally don't really dig the majority of what is labelled New Age, but there is some electronica Which straddles the edge and is much more texturally compelling. I'm not an expert in the field, but Biosphere make some great ambient recordings. Try 'Shenzou' or 'Substrata'. Some other artists in that genre that provide 'audio-wallpaper-with-substance' which jump to mind are Harold Budd, Thomas Koner, Jon Hassell and, of course, the grandaddy of the scene, Brian Eno. Perhaps some of the works of Arvo Part...or Terry Riley?

WARNING: Shameless plug for friend's music follows...!!

A friend of mine who I play more traditional music with has for years created experimental and very richly textural ambient music. The music is mostly self-released and quite well received in the scene.

Go to and reference the link to his music.
Perhaps some ambient music such as that done by Brian Eno or a host of others whose names I can't recall.
There were a series of Enviornment records put out in the 80's that you can find in thift shops for a dollar in good condition. They just play the same theme over and over again like the ocean or birds chirping but my favorite was just rain comming down with thunder and lighting. Yeah I know it ain't music but I used to record the same record over and over on my reel to reel and let it run for three hours at low volume and read. Since i couldn't afford a house on the beach I would just listen to the ocean and dream.
I agree with the above suggestions on the Mozart and Schubert piano music. I find it hard to ignore Bach in the backround, too much going on makes me focus on the music. I'd suggest trying the Corelli Concerti Grossi and Handel Water Music, plus the Ref Recordings Vivaldi for Diverse Instruments and Reveries discs. Telemann is another composer whose music lends itself to the background, such as his Divertmenti. I think in general Baroque music is what you might be looking for, up to the early Classical period (Mozart, Haydn and early Beethoven), but after that music gets a lot more complex and less able to stay in the background.
I like Arvo Part's Alina on ECM. I also like slow Indian music--not the kind that gets all frenetic at the end. Anything which is called Alap or Alap/Jor should suit. One I especially like is by Zia Mohiuddin Dagar playing the rubra vina.

Also, pretty much any recording of the composers Ockeghem, Obrecht, Josquin Des Prez, Palestrina, Tallis... oh heck there are a lot more too... _a capella_ religious music sung in multipart harmony. Great performances are available by the Clerks' Group, the Huelgas Ensemble, Cantus Colln and the Tallis Scholars. It all sounds the same as you start to get to know it and them you begin slowly to pick up on the differences, which turn out to be many and varied.

In the New Age vein, my favourite is Deva Premal. For jazz, Kind of Blue is pretty meditative, and I also like Count Basie on piano. I've never heard a solo recording, but there are trios. He is so economical with the notes that nothing seems to be there to distract.
Santana (Welcome)always works for me
See if you can find some Doyle Dykes, acoustic guitar. Craig Chaquiso's guitar also works well for me.
The genre known as "ambient" works great in the background while working. Minimal beat, very spacy. Either you like this stuff or you don't. There is a definitive list and a streaming server you can listen to here:

Explore the site and the music!

Good luck.
Not meditative, but the Emerson Quartet's rendition of Bach's Art of the Fugue works well for me. IT doesn't fade into the background, the mundane work does, and the music so tweaks my mind that the work ends up being very well done even though I've paid it very little apparent attention. Henryk Szeryng's Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas does this as well, but to a lesser extent.
Western classical music involves my left-brain too much. It plugs me in. To raise my consciousness a chakra or three and find a "meditative" state something like Kitaro -In person or Ali Akbar Khan -Indian Achitexture or The Starseeds -Parallel Life or anything Massive Attach is more in order. "Ambient" in a word. In this case I find it is also not about being an audiophile so I turn off the turntable and plug in one of those dreaded silver discs. That helps with escaping the duties and clutter of a Hifi world and shows little responsibility to space and time. Who thought I would ever advocate a little silver disc over a black one with grooves in the same breath as speaking of a higher consciousness? Cheers!
1. Almost anything by Roedelius.
2. David Byrne with Brian Eno album on EG.
3. Anything by Harold Budd
4. Anything by Michael Brook
5. Anything by Benjamin Lew/Steve Brown.
6. Fish for Fish(try to get it dude!)
7. Anything by Hector Zazou
8. Secret Garden...
9. Dave Sylvian any album and any album where he's not the titled artist.
10. Dead Can Dance...
11. Anything by Molvaer Nills Petter.
12. Pat Metheny "Secret Story".
13. Miles Davis/Marcus Miller "Siesta" a sountrack.
Eno - Music for Airports is excellent. Have a look at this link:
Mmmmm. Sounds like you need some "Elevations" by New Ager Don Harris. "The Dreams of Children" by Shadowfax is another that keeps the pulse going but stays out of the way.
Check out some music from Deuter such as Buddha Nature.
I also like Chopins Nocturnes, also some Hildegard Von Bingen.
RF Sayles

I had a girlfriend once who thought Massive Attack was the perfect soundtrack for wild sex, something I don't normally associate with paying bills.

But I do appreciate the suggestion.

And interesting point on analogue vs digital, aside from the obvious "repeat" function. For the same reason, I sometimes dont even like to turn my big rig on when working.

More jazz ideas on this topic would be very nice.
More jazz: Keith Jarrett's Sun Bear Concerts.

If you get the chance, please let us know what you pick up to try, and how you like it.
More jazz-like but mellow:

Jarrett: Radiance
Tord Gustavsen: The Ground
Tord Gustavsen: Changing Places
marc Johnson: Shades of Jade

Not Jazz like, but awesome:

Gurdjieff, Tsabropoulos: Chants, Hymns and Dances
Cwlondon, Curious I had a girlfriend that turned me on to Massive Attack years ago and it had the same effect for the both of us. Must be some kind of subliminal messaging. That beats the Beatles wizardry all to hell.

The Starseeds -Parallel Life was recommended to me by another young lady as the best sound track for enjoying the same. I highly recommend this one. ItÂ’s out of print but Amazon dealers and ebay often have a copy showing up.
Again, we liked it immensely. Ahhhh! the joys of music. Cheers!

- JULEE CRUISE - Floating Into the Night
- CARLA LOTHER - Ephemera
- ROBERT RICH - Seven Veils
- PHIL THORNTON - Solstice
- HECTOR ZAZOU - Lights in the Dark
- AL GROMER KHAN - Mahogany Nights
- B-TRIBE - Spiritual, Spiritual
- JONN SERRIE - Lumia Nights
- DAVID ARKENSTONE - Caravan of Light
- CONSTANCE DEMBY - Set Free & Novus Magnificat

Among many others I can't recall at the moment.

How about Brian Eno's "Music for Airports".
some good ones listed above, particularly Marakanetz's list and the Tord Gustovsen reference. Another that's always done it for me is "Matchbook" with Ralph Towner and Gary Burton. Something about the Vibes and acoustic guitar that helps me concentrate . . .
Steve Roach, Stuctures from Silence.