Published:  June 4, 2012

Words: Jack Mussett, Motherbird

Designers and creatives alike draw inspiration from the many different things that surround us every day. Music, however, seems to be a source we often subconsciously draw upon within the studio environment. If it is going to play such a large role in affecting our creativity, we may as well get it right.

A few years ago, I teamed up with two other designers to undertake research into the effect music has on a person’s mood. We provided participants with a range of colours, images and emotive words that they were asked to match to songs that we played. This resulted in a series of mood boards for each piece of music, giving us a greater understanding of how music looks and feels.

Studies have been done to measure the emotional impact of sound/music on mood. In particular, a US study investigated changes in tension, mood and mental clarity resulting from music. It found that ‘designer music’ (music made specifically to affect the listener on a physiological or psychological level, or both) increased caring, relaxation, mental clarity and vigour. There were also significant decreases in hostility, fatigue, sadness and tension. Grunge music achieved the opposite results and new age and classical were mixed. Overall, designer music was the most successful genre to increase positive feelings and decrease negativity. These results suggest that we should all listen to designer music; however, different genres evoke different feelings and will create various creative outcomes when put into practice.

At Motherbird we don’t necessarily listen to our favourite music while we work, as it often doesn’t bring out the correct emotion or energy required for creative thinking.

To start the day, we often listen to something a little more sedate, so that we don’t go into overdrive too early. But if we’re trying to hit a deadline late in the afternoon, we will find some music with a beat and give it some serious volume. It gets the heart rate going and exercises thought.

Ambient sounds like that in a Brian Eno track can mentally take the listener to an entirely new place. Artists like Beirut, Sigur Rós or Amadou & Mariam make the listener feel as though they are physically in that foreign place. It’s sometimes nice to separate yourself from the work, and feel like you’re in a bustling market in France or on a placid lake in Scandinavia. These artists paint a landscape and remove us from our studio space, which can certainly foster creative thought.

Our studio is very much about working in a positive environment and we have recognised that music is key to this. As a result, Studio Sounds was born. On Twitter we began posting what we were listening to under the hashtag #studiosounds, in the hope that we could share some good studio music and get some ideas ourselves. The hashtag has dramatically grown over the past few months and turned into a bit of a ‘go to’ place for good studio music recommendations. Thanks to Dai Hovey and Peter Oliver Davies, Studio Sounds now has a digital home at studiosounds.me, where all the tagged Twitter posts are available and searchable. Join in by using #studiosounds.

From desktop magazine.

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