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Working with Music in the Background -- What Kind, if Any?

Mark A. Hurt MD



I have experimented over the years about what, if anything, to listen to in the background while I'm working on cases. I'm curious to learn what, if anything [i]others [/i]do and what they like.

Music connects to one's soul on an emotional level, as one does not translate it conceptually directly from words. So, what one finds enjoyable, another might not.

In my case, in the setting of work, I have been looking for some time to find music that allows my mind to focus on the work and not the music. Here is what I have discovered:[list=1]
[*]Rock music doesn't work. It's too loud, variable, and the singers distract me.
[*]Most classical or orchestral music doesn't work, as it has variable intensity, and the melodic passages distract me. However, Chopin's work is OK for this purpose most of the time.
[*]Most big band music of the 1940's doesn't work because of the contrasts of loud and soft; also, the melodies are distracting
[*]White noise is plain boring; the electrical noises in my office suffice for that
[*]Jazz -- especially the Miles Davis genre -- seems to fit the bill better. It's relatively even in pattern, not too distracting, and even somewhat soothing.
Thus, for the time being, certain kinds of jazz (and Chopin) seem to be the winner. I have to add, however, that on some days, I can take Sinatra (I like to listen to him even when I'm [i]not [/i]working) in the background if the volume is low.

What do you like? Please let me and the other readers know. I'm curious.


Recommended Comments

Dr. Phillip McKee


Like surgeons operating, I have always played music while reporting. Although I probably don't listen to it, it tended to drown other extraneous noise. I tend to the classical and go for the more depressing music. I love Arvo Part and John Taverner for signout. Phillip Glass is great for the morning's hours of recuts for margins and the like. Although I am a great fan of almost all classical music, I am also heavily into rock and blues. Bluegrass is another favorite, when I was a late teenager, I played a 5 string banjo in a bluegrass group but sadly that is a long time ago!!! I remember once being called to the operating room to have a look at a MAC and when I went into the theatre, I was met with a tremendous blast of Fleetwood Mac!!! It was totally deafening.
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Robledo F. Rocha


What a lovely subject music is! Play music is my hobby, and listen to music is the way I’ve found to achieve the appropriate concentration in order to work on cases.
I believe musical taste is not the most important thing one must have in mind when choosing the repertoire. It’s indispensable that the music do not compete for the pathologist’s attention, but create a positive environment for the diagnostic judgement.
Having said that, I prefer listen only to instrumental music because at some point I used to found myself singing along to the lyrics!
Like Dr. Hurt, I advise against that kind of music with sudden intensity variations (e.g. Haydn and Mahler) and with very powerful sounds (e.g. Mozart and Wagner). I do not recommend either the disorientating melodies made by contemporary composers (e.g. Ligeti and Berg). Thus, classical composers whose music are always playing at my office are Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov and Brahms.
I often listen to jazz, too. Again, I avoid singers (e.g. Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday) and songs with complex dissonant harmony (e.g. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis). I use to take the cool jazz of Chet Baker and the swing of Benny Goodman.
Last but not least, I could not forget the Brazilian popular style called "choro", mainly those compositions by Pixinguinha and by Ernesto Nazareth.
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Dr. Richard Carr


Classic FM for me on the DAB radio given to me by Dr Saleem Taibjee. Today's highlight: [url="http://www.classicfm.com/radio/playlist/2013/july/26/jamie-crick/"]on Jamie Crick, Fri 26 July 2013[/url]
[b] 'Ombra mai fu'[/b]

[url="http://www.classicfm.com/composers/handel/"]George Frideric Handel (1685-1759 : Germany)[/url][list]
[*]Conductor: Harry Bicket
[*]Ensemble: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
[*]Soloists: Renee Fleming
[*]Record Label: Decca
[*]Catalog: 4756186
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Guest Prof. Iqbal Bukhari


Oh yes, listening to piano played music is my passion while working. it makes me concentrate and do the work as if I am painting a portrait !!
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