Study Break

Five Arts Writers Give Their Opinions on What Music to Listen to While Studying for Your Finals. Read More Suggestions at


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Ennio Morricone: The Mission

Morricone is one of my favorite composers. His film scores are a testament to the power of music in a visual medium. Brimming with nostalgia, they've provided countless films with moments of indelible majesty. It's soulful music: euphonic and grand, cathartic and pure.

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

While the free-form nature of early jazz was a revolution in itself, developments like bebop expanded on its possibilities. Kind of Blue is nothing less than a masterpiece of that progression-so audacious that drummer Jimmy Cobb had only one thing to say about it: "It must have been made in heaven."

-David Liu

Neko Case: "Marais La Nuit"

I was a little thrown off by Neko Case's 32-minute field recording of the marsh on her farm. Now I can't live without it when it comes time for finals. Drown out all those chirpers in the cafe with your very own crickets!

Detektivbyran: E18, Wermland

All good things come from Gothenberg, Sweden: Jose Gonzalez, the Knife and Fever Ray and now, your two new favorite instrumental albums. Toy pianos and accordions create a hypnotic world that bubbles forth with "Amelie"-esque magic, guaranteed to enrapture you in your textbooks.

-Hayley Hosman

Bjork: Vespertine

Vespertine washes over me like a foam bath to cool off my fingers so heated from vehement writing! In tenth grade, I crammed all of "Cat's Cradle" in one night while enjoying the sweet seductive sounds of this Icelandic goddess. Vespertine, in all its tranquility, never ceases to tug at my cerebrum.

Getz & Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto

Nothing like a little Latin samba as you put your nose to the proverbial grindstone! This collection features colorful vocals and cool-cat saxophone to put you in the studying groove. You might even want to reach for some sangria instead of that tenth cup of coffee!

-Ryan Lattanzio

Explosions in the Sky: The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place

This old stand-by helps me focus. The rousing melodies will motivate you and the soaring instrumentation will calm your overclocked neurons. I put it on during the home stretch-the last 100 pages of a book, the second half of a paper-and fist-pump as I write.

John Fahey: America

I used to listen to my dad's vinyl copy. These eminently pleasant Takoma-style guitar compositions always make me feel smarter. Also it has fascinating album art, for when you need to be distracted from whatever you're studying.

-Sam Stander

Brian Eno: Another Green World

Each piece from this work of ambient music has a character of its own. "The Big Ship" imposes darkly. "Sombre Reptiles" skitters frantically. These musical narratives are a great accompaniment to the mental stimulation (or bludgeoning) of a hard night's studying.

DJ Shadow: Endtroducing...

Theoretically, hip-hop is ideal study music. Its drive inspires getting shit done. But in practice, it's impossible to concentrate with rhymes being spat into your earbuds. DJ Shadow is the solution to this conundrum. His haunting instrumentals have the drive to motivate you in your studying endeavors.

-David Wagner


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