What music to listen to while drawing?

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MomoiroGirl
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What music to listen to while drawing?

#1 Post by MomoiroGirl » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:46 am

Whenever I draw, I usually just listen to whatever's on my iTunes, meaning pop, rock, indie, Japanese music, game/movie soundtracks, whatever really... But I think that when I listen to the type of music I normally do, I always end up drawing something that relates too much to the music, if that makes sense... Like, if I listen to some music that my mind correlates strongly with a specific theme or character type etc., I can't see to be able to get inspiration to draw something other than that.

I've reached the point where I've started wondering. Is it because the type of music I'm listening too is distracting, rather than inspiring, or is it just me who has lost my creative drive? So I wanted to know, what do other people here listen to?

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#2 Post by indoneko » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:23 am

@MomoiroGirl : I heard that western animators actually discourage the practice of listening to music while drawing/animating, because it reduce your concentration and/or creativity. As for myself, listening to certain music helps me build the mood that I need to for drawing specific scene/characters (but I generally avoid music with vocals because it gives me more distraction than inspiration).
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#3 Post by Mammon » Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:52 am

I never really listened to music while (what I call) drawing, but that's more because I was too lazy to collect a list of songs to play while doing it and I don't really like the songs that others prepared in '1hour of this genre, best totally epic collection WTF!' or whatever those YouTube videos call themselves. But if drawing is anything like writing, there are three things that are important:
1) Instrumental, not with lyrics. Those voices will distract you, unless they are in a foreign language that you cannot speak even a word of.
2) It has to be in the same general mood as your work. So if you want to make a tragic or sad drawing, put on your 'tragic and sad' album, listening to something cheery like babymetal obviously won't help you draw it.
3) If it's difficult to draw, don't listen to music at all. Best example is with women that are parallel parking who turn off their radio (Sorry if it's a seksist example, but my mother actually does that), they turn of their radio because they need to concentrate solely on the act of parallel parking. Just listening to music takes up a part of your concentration even if you don't really notice it. I myself noticed during driving lessons that my ability to drive properly decreases when the radio is on even when I pay absolutely no mind to it.

P.S., Thanks RedOwl for mentioning Vitamin string Quartet, I already know I'm going to listen those songs till no end.
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#4 Post by RedOwl » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:07 pm

It's interesting to hear that others have issues with listening to music while drawing... for me, listening to music is pretty much the only way I can fully focus on making art. Maybe I just have concentration issues, but if I'm not listening to music, I might be able to draw for an hour or two before taking a break or getting distracted by something else. But with music, I can pull 12+ hour days of making art. It's kind of like magic. Here are some of my favorites for drawing:

- I have a playlist called "dance beat/upbeat" with mainly features old funk music and just anything that has a super upbeat vibe that makes me want to dance (i.e. Jump in the Line (Belafonte), Funkytown, Happy (Pharrell Williams)). That stuff just fills me with energy.
- I have a LOT of Vitamin String Quartet songs - I adore what they do by taking popular songs and turning then "classical"
- Anime soundtracks (my faves are Jigoku Shoujo, xxxholic, Natsume, Spirited Away, Nagi No Asukara, .Hack//sign, Welcome to the NHK)

On the other hand, with writing, I usually can't listen to any music that has vocals - it needs to be instrumental only (or no music works too).
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#5 Post by SexBomb » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:04 am

Every time someone asks this question, I always think of Richard Williams' cartoon in "The Animator's Survival Kit." :P

You're definitely right to wonder. Music can be inspiring, but it can also be very distracting. Personally, I can't draw for more than a few hours without some sort of background noise... I get antsy and bored. That said, I prefer audiobooks to music. Less distracting, and I don't find myself "drawing to the beat."

If you truly feel like you need music to draw (and you should only use it for illustration, never for animation, as indoneko mentioned), I suggest picking something that fits the tone of whatever you're working on. If it's a bright and uplifting piece, maybe don't pick your death metal playlist....

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#6 Post by Root13 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:37 am

I enjoy painting characters and decorations in dark tones, so witch house is the best music for me)

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#7 Post by Sonomi » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:12 pm

I agree with RedOwl, in that I like to listen to music while I'm working. It's far easier for me to spend several hours on something when there's a soundtrack playing in the background.

It's interesting to hear that so many find the lyrics distracting. I guess I don't really pay much attention to the singing. All I hear is the melody when I'm really focused on the task at hand.

What music do I listen to while drawing? It depends on what I'm making. If I'm drawing an upbeat, smiling character, then I'll put on a list of happier songs (pop). If I'm drawing a more melancholic scene, I'll play a slow song or metal.

Rock/Metal is actually my default because it is the predominant genre in my library, and the songs are usually filled with an emotion that I feel is inspiring. Music helps me relax and think more clearly while I'm doing most anything. Especially if it's something creative. There is a song for most emotions out there. I find it a natural cure to writers block, or "artistic block" since we're talking about artwork.
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#8 Post by Kuiper » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:56 am

RedOwl wrote:It's interesting to hear that others have issues with listening to music while drawing... for me, listening to music is pretty much the only way I can fully focus on making art. Maybe I just have concentration issues, but if I'm not listening to music, I might be able to draw for an hour or two before taking a break or getting distracted by something else. But with music, I can pull 12+ hour days of making art. It's kind of like magic.
Back when I did visual art, this was the case for me as well; listening to music helped me concentrate for hours at a time, and sometimes it even helped lull me into a trance-like state. I don't listen to music when writing (in fact, I try to have as little stimulation as possible when I'm typing), but back when I did 3D modeling and other artsy stuff, music helped me stay in "the zone" and kept me working at my desk for many consecutive hours in many cases. In a way, I think listening to familiar music helped to "shut off" a part of my brain in a way that made it easier to avoid distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. Note, however, that they keyword is familiar. If I listen to a new album that I've just discovered, I'm much more likely to "actively listen" to the album, which means that the music can actually be a distraction. However, if I'm listening to a favorite album or playlist that I've already heard dozens of times before, my brain anticipates every beat and note in a way that makes the music become a soothing backdrop to whatever I'm doing, rather than a distraction. (Sort of in the same way that people repeat a mantra like "om" when they meditate.)

Interestingly, I found that this effect applied regardless of what type I listened to! There were plenty of "relaxing" music tracks that I found distracting the first times I listened to them, and there were also plenty of "loud" and "abrasive" and "energetic" albums that most people would call the opposite of relaxing that still managed to enter the realm of pleasant background noise when I'd listened to them enough that I was familiar with them. So if I were to answer the question of, "what music do you listen to when drawing" (or in my case, 3D modeling), you'd basically get a laundry list of albums that I played on repeat for most of my adolescence. If I know every beat of an album by heart, listening to it will be a passive experience, something that occupies the auditory section of my brain and tunes out distraction without requiring any active listening effort on my part.

That said, not all music tracks are created equal. For example, there are some music tracks that are engineered specifically to be relaxing, and they're so simple and predictable that they don't really engage my brain, even if I haven't listened to them a ton. And there are certain complex music tracks that take longer for me to digest, so they require more listens before they become "background" noise. (Still, I think the general concept of "familiar = relaxing" and "new = distracting" holds up, even in the case of these "exceptions.") Interestingly, I think this might be why I find it easier to concentrate when listening to pop or dance music, rather than classical music. Classical music tends to be so complex! You have changing tempos, changing dynamics with sweeping crescendos and decrescendos, and myriad sections that are all subtly different. Pop music, on the hand, is almost engineered to be repetitive. Consistent tempo in a familiar chord progression, and low dynamic range, auto-tune and sampling, all of the things that make people hate pop music for being "artificial and boring and same-y" tend to make it easier for me to sort of tune out and just hear as background noise that won't threaten to distract me. Repetitive is good. Repetitive is what you get from the meditating monk who only repeats a one-syllable mantra like "om."

I also like listening to albums that have a consistent sound to them. For example, I'm a big fan of Mindless Self Indulgence, but there are certain albums I just cannot listen to as background noise. For example, their earlier albums like "Frankenstein Girls" have a lot of experimental tracks, and although I love these albums, it's just really hard for me to hear them without getting distracted by the music. On the other hand, MSI's later albums tend to have a more "cohesive" sound that runs consistently throughout the duration of an entire album, so I can listen to an album like "You'll Rebel to Anything" or "If" as background noise and it'll be just fine. Would I recommend these as background noise to someone who wants music to study to? Hell no, they'll be crazy distracting if you're hearing them for the first time. But if you're like me and grew up listening to these albums on loop when you were in high school, then they might just be the thing that you need to lull you into the zone.

Oh, and perhaps it goes without saying, but I always listen to full albums (or custom, personal playlists in a few cases), never on shuffle, and also very seldom on a "radio" type service like Pandora or Spotify. The entire point of listening to music I'm familiar with is to make the entire listening experience to be predictable. If my brain ever has to spend a moment wondering, "hmm, I wonder what song will play next," that's the kind of thing that forces my attention away from what I'm doing and onto the music.
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#9 Post by chlorofinite » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:26 am

There are several videos that exist on the internet with "working BGM" in the title for the specific purpose of, well, listening to while working. I've been checking out different "eroge song medleys" lately - today's is a KeroQ/Makura one, and for a while here and there just Sakura no Uta on repeat. Actually, whatever song I listen to, I typically listen to on repeat, so these videos are certainly a change of pace.

As for non-vocal music, I go for composers or soundtracks I like. For generic cutesy stuff, I'll go for stuff Ryou Mizutsuki has done, so Nanatsuiro Drops or Flyable Heart. For in general, just whatever, Subarashiki Hibi's entire soundtrack is great. Other times, the TWEWY and Sonic Rush soundtracks are pretty cool. And I have a good friend who does game BGM so her stuff is always a nice listen as well.

When writing instead of drawing or design, I pick out whatever track I imagine to be playing in the scene.

I can't imagine working on anything without music.
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#10 Post by mard » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:29 am

Honestly, for me, I can't focus worth anything without some kind of background noise. Whenever I have to do something, be it write, code, anything for an extended amount of time, I have to have something running. For me, it's find a track I like, and have it be on repeat for hours on end, sometimes days on end. It quiets down the parts of the brain that would otherwise distract me, allowing me to focus on whatever I may be doing. As for what I tend to end up listening to , I have a few anime soundtracks, and basically have a single track run on repeat for hours on end. One thing to note though, is I never listen to anything too upbeat, or in other words something that has any level of ferocity to it, as that tends to be more of a distraction than a help. An example would be the Madoka Magica opening, sometimes Scarlet ballet from Hidan no Aria.

So yes, for me, vocals tend to be more beneficial in the end. Even if it's somethi8ng like one of Starset's tracks, a Canadian band I occasionally listen to, having the track repeat for hours on end acts as a focusing tool, as long as it isn't too upbeat.

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#11 Post by RedOwl » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:15 pm

Kuiper wrote:If I listen to a new album that I've just discovered, I'm much more likely to "actively listen" to the album, which means that the music can actually be a distraction. However, if I'm listening to a favorite album or playlist that I've already heard dozens of times before, my brain anticipates every beat and note in a way that makes the music become a soothing backdrop to whatever I'm doing, rather than a distraction. (Sort of in the same way that people repeat a mantra like "om" when they meditate.
Yes!! Perfect explanation of this phenomenon. This is how it works for me, too - I need to be listening to music that I already know really well.
Kuiper wrote:Oh, and perhaps it goes without saying, but I always listen to full albums (or custom, personal playlists in a few cases), never on shuffle, and also very seldom on a "radio" type service like Pandora or Spotify. The entire point of listening to music I'm familiar with is to make the entire listening experience to be predictable. If my brain ever has to spend a moment wondering, "hmm, I wonder what song will play next," that's the kind of thing that forces my attention away from what I'm doing and onto the music.
Yep! Same here.
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#12 Post by Parataxis » Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:05 am

I have all the same things as above--music needs to either be familiar or instrumental so that I can put it in the background, but I wanted to add that I actually tend to do my most successful art/writing listening to a single song on repeat for the duration. It helps me maintain the mood of the thing that I am making. It is, however, no doubt going to drive my roommate mad one day.

Oh well, I suppose that's what headphones are for.

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#13 Post by Laliras » Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:54 am

I am listing soft romantic song once I drawing.

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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#14 Post by fmjaye » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:56 pm

If I'm drawing I normally listen to podcasts or let's plays. If it's something I have to concentrate on (like writing), then I listen to music. I think I was better at focusing when I was a teenager; now I find a lot of music distracting. When I listen to music while working it's mostly I listen to Lana del Rey. Other stuff I like is too catchy and makes me want to sing along =w=;;;
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Re: What music to listen to while drawing?

#15 Post by truefaiterman » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:20 am

It entirely depends on my current mood, or in what kind of music inspired me to begin the piece I'm currently painting. Most of it is videogame OSTs, tho.
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