Music for programming

When it comes to focus on code, some like it silent, but others like a little background music to help concentration.

We're of the latter, here are some of our recommendations...

Tools / websites or applications

First, here are some applications that play ambient sounds or sites that propose mixes tailor-made for programming.


MusicForProgramming is a "series of mixes intended for listening while programming to aid concentration and increase productivity"

While this is not really music, background sounds can help and this app is particularly well suited to accommodate for all your needs of chanting birds and running water :

A soft murmur

Basically, this is the browser / Android version of the one before. Pretty handy.


... and here we go again !


.. and yet another one, more tech-savvy, but has a lot of different ambiances

Ex :

Actual Music

And now for some totally personal suggestions. Quite eclectic, I guess.

Brian Eno — LUX

For ambient music, Brian Eno is always a good choice, especially the LUX album :

It's very calm, introspective, slow. More or less perfect when you try to lay down an architecture of some kind.

Hidden Orchestra — Archipelago
Portico (Quartet) — Portico Quartet

Now simply renamed "Portico", this quartet makes music with various ambient instruments, and notably a Hang which gives to their music a very soft feeling. Ideal for concentration

Jon Hopkins — LateNightTales (curated)

The LateNightTales albums are compilations curated by various (mainly electronic) artists. The Jon Hopkins edition is very calm and appeasing, yet intense.

To be honest, any Jon Hopkins album is a very good source of concentration for programming :

Air — The Virgin Suicides

It's the soundtrack to the motion picture. Especially efficient for concentration since a soundtrack is somehow made to be heard in the background of a principal activity :

Apparat — Walls

Nice electronic music, goes with every activity really.

In the same style : Pantha du Prince for instance (an album below)

Archive — Controlling Crowds

And as well the "Lights" Album :

Especially the fantastic eponymous "Lights" track (18 minutes ...).

Barn Owl — Ancestral Star

Noisy guitars and long chords make it for a relaxing yet powerful ambiant music choice

Nosaj Thing — Fated

Downtempo, hardly vocals, perfect to concentrate on code.

Infiné (Label) — artists compilations

These three albums are really good electronic music compilations from the French label :

Boards of Canada — Music has the right to children

Ambient and downtempo, with a very notable sound signature.

Ewan Pearson — We are proud of our choices

More on the side of techno, but very soft. Unfortunately only available on iTunes (not on a streaming platform). You can still see it on Discogs.

This track, in particular, is quite nice :

Gui Boratto — Take my breath away

More pushy, more energetic.

LCD Soundsystem — 45:33

It's litterally a song of 45:33 minutes that undergoes many transitions. Quite cool to focus.

Lusine — The Waiting room

A quite relaxed and musically rich electro beat. Has some vocals.

Massive Attack — Mezzanine

Massive Attack is a reference in the downtempo / trip-hop scene, and their music marry quite well with coding

Message to bears — Departures

More dark, but very calm and quiet

Mondkopf — Rising Doom

More dark and techno-ish, good for power-up sessions :

Steve Reich — Music for Eighteen Musicians

The below version, performed by eighth blackbird, is the one which I find the most relaxing and energizing at the same time :

In the same style : John Glass, check it out.

OM — Conference of the Birds

A two-track ambient rock album. Don't listen if you have a mysterious bug you're trying to resolve; it's better suited if you have to write easy boring code :)

Causa Sui — Pewt'r Session

Same as above, rock, not too disruptive.

Pantha du Prince — Elements of Sound

Minimal techno with a lowly bell. Not common, but very nice.

###### Pink Floyd — Pulse

It's a double live CD, recorded in 1994. It has a force that can help get through a segfault.

Max Cooper — Traum Collection

Max Cooper's music is quite structured and gives a good tempo to follow when coding, in my opinion.

In fact, any other album named "Serie" by Max Cooper, though quite short, is good to listen to while coding.

What else ?

More generic choices for concentration and focus.

Nordic music

Ok, the names may not be easily pronounceable, but it's worth noting that the music fits quite well a coding session, see here :

Some of the names include : Ulf Soderberg, Tidvatted, Vindarnas Hus, Sephiroth, etc ...

Anything I should add to this list ? Let me know : cyril [at]