White Noise Resources – for studying, writing and gaming

The Universities at Shady Grove is a place focused on academic achievement. You’re here to study and learn – but sometimes you just can’t force yourself to stare at your textbook for hours on end, not without some help.

Some people – myself included – have difficulty focusing on their work without a background track. There have been some studies on the subject, with intriguing results.

Here’s a brief summary – got Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Chances are that steady background noise – music, or custom generated on a website like this one – will help you focus. Don’t have ADHD? You might find white noise beneficial, or you might not – it’s up in the air for each individual.

As someone who frequently makes use of white noise for studying, I have some recommendations based on personal preferences.

  1. I’ve found white noise generators to be hit or miss – typically I’ll just loop a song on repeat, because white noise generators can be…well, noisy. Because of the high variety of the generated sound, it can be hard to zone out of it – unless you just pick one sound like “rain” or “wind.” Picking a single song and looping it allows your brain to shove the sound into the background after a while.
  2. You might think that songs without lyrics would be the best – lyrics could be distracting, after all. You’re right – I’ve found instrumental tracks pretty reliable. Like this one, or this one, or this one.
  3. Of course there are some songs with lyrics that are just as good for white noise as instrumentals – but there are some stringent qualifications. I’ve found links between lyrical density and complexity to how helpful the loop is – rap songs tend to be pretty bad for zoning out, based on their verbosity. There are exceptions, and these tend to be based on how “nonsense” the lyrics are and how strong the background groove of the song is. Examples one, two, three.
  4. Songs in other languages, regardless of lyrical complexity, tend to be good all around. An absolute classic is Plastic Love, but there is also Bay City – pretty much every song from the Japanese 80’s city-pop era is a great choice. Another example, an entire album that’s pretty good, and a Japanese instrumental but nonetheless fantastic performance. Or this.
  5. There are a few great picks in English that are just…right. Like this one, or this one, or this one. Or this one. I think it’s because the songs tend to be consistent throughout – they hold steady, and the words aren’t too distracting.

You may or may not have found any of these songs optimal for your own personal white noise use, and that’s alright. It’s up to you to find that special song you can play for three hours while cramming for that test, or that one track that keeps you awake while trying to write that chapter for your book.

As a last resort, you can always try this.

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