back to article I still haven't found what I'm malloc()ing for: U2 tops poll of music today's devs code to

Time to put to bed once and for all the image of the hip young hacker pounding out code to cutting-edge techno music. It turns out that today's devs prefer to work to most of the same tunes your mom plays while driving to the store. A study from survey and research company Qualtrics found that while nearly all developers like …

  1. mhoulden

    I wonder what % of developers would like to work in silence but can't because they're in an open plan office with a noisy project manager holding conference calls at the other end. Add in the relatively high incidence of autism spectrum disorders among developers (which can include a tendency to be distracted by things like background noise) and it's not surprising people sometimes want to put some music on.

    1. Brenda McViking

      We've had talk of grey-noise trials in our office - there are actually more noise complaints in the allocated desk space than the so-called "agile" area where they just removed 30% of the desks, put a lot of ad-hoc meeting spaces and invited an office-scrum for a desk. All it actually did was get people in earlier in the morning so they could take "their" spot, but I digress...

      Back to my point - because the allocated desk area does tend to be quieter, just one rogue PM will disturb a lot of people because it's too easy to tune-in (and I've seen people there working with ear defenders on, my preference is the Bose QC series as their noise cancelling actually works). In the agile area though, there is a lot more background noise but you can't pick out individual conversations: people there are reporting that it's actually easier to concentrate.

      Indeed, at university I liked to revise in the student pub (stop scoffing at the back), because it was easier to concentrate with a constant level of background noise, than in the library with a bunch of sociology students quietly discussing "the societal disadvantages of capitalism." Plus once I'd finished, having the bar 10ft away was never a disadvantage...

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Distracting office noise: The phone system from hell

        "ust one rogue PM will disturb a lot of people because it's too easy to tune-in"

        That reminds me of the phone system from hell. The phones were grouped according to team.

        If one phone went unanswered for 6 or so rings, all the phones for that team started ringing in unison. If all those phones went unanswered, the call was diverted to a secretary, who was seemingly never at her desk.

        At any given time, at least one team was off in a meeting room.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "We've had talk of grey-noise trials in our office -"

        This is actually a well known Contact Centre technique.

        Noise volumes in a "quiet" office soon escalate, as people get distracted by the people talking next to them, so raise their voice a little more in order to zone in on their conversation...then the people around them raise theirs. Rinse and repeat.

        By introducing a base level sound, you are less distracted by other peoples conversations, and so so you tend not to raise your own voice.

        So ironically, having noise introduced at a set level actually reduces overall noise in the environment.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          I remember at the end of the 80s, beginning of the 90s, there was talk of white-noise walls, which would stop ambient noise from neighbouring areas penetrating barrier, thus eliminating the problem.

          I guess it proved too difficult / too expensive.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "[...] there was talk of white-noise walls, [...]"

            Achieved in our open plan office by having the customers' network test bed in the corner running 24/7. Unfortunately the multiple Cisco 1U boxes' fan noise was more like a banshee - and my tinnitus suffered from the over-stimulation.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              The secretary was never at the desk because... advance warning!

      3. TRT Silver badge

        Thanks for the tip on the Bose QC. I might invest. Someone thought it was a good idea to put the air-conditioning only in the Outer Office, but they also put the training/analysis PCs for the 'scope in there. Queue lots of chatter about two feet away round the corner. >>>SCREAM<<<

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Unfortunately the multiple Cisco 1U boxes' fan noise was more like a banshee

          I built our first test compute cluster in the end of the office out some old boxes. Our scientists' desire for compute was insatiable so I managed to lay my hands on some Pentium D machines which ran hit. Let's just say that you didn't need Ganglia to monitor load, you just worked out home much like a hair dryer it sounded. We moved it pretty quickly to keep our colleagues sane.

      4. spacecadet66 Bronze badge

        For some time I worked regularly at my local bar, as it had three things my home at the time did not: a reliable Internet connection, air conditioning, and beer.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Music helps even when you are not in the office

      I have found it I need music to concentrate even when I am coding in my own home office and in my loft. I cannot go into proper "Capt'n, I do not know how much she can take. KEEP ON FIRING" mode without a set of huge fully isolating ear-cups and something blasting on them.

      You need silence sometimes for debugging. Once again the cups help.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

        Perhaps if you had silence for coding you wouldn't need silence for debugging?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

          Perhaps if you had silence for coding you wouldn't need silence for debugging?

          spot on!

          I really cant imagine that having music on whilst coding dosent detract from the standard of work.

          1. richardcox13

            Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

            > I really cant imagine that having music on whilst coding dosent detract from the standard of work.

            Really depends on the type of music.

            If it is of fairly uniform volume and tempo (eg. Baroque concertos) then it works very well to block out other distracting noise.

            Music full of sudden changes can itself be distracting. As is any of my favourite compositions.

            (Silence is best, but along with individual offices, that option has gone.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

          Middle Of The Road - Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was made for debugging.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

        Once again the cups help.

        And which beverage is in the cups? (Alcoholic or otherwise)..

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Generally, I can't listen to music while I'm working, I find it too distracting. Rarely, I will listen to music, but that is very rare - every few years.

      I'm lucky, at my current place, I have a 2-man office and there is no music. Many of the other offices have music playing in the background. I find it hard to concentrate there.

      I have to be in the right mood for music, when working. When, then heavy rock, like AC/DC or classic music from Beethoven or Strauss.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Silence is golden...

        ...and other people's music is hell. That's when I need lots of AC/DC, Nightwish and Creedence.

    4. Prosthetic Conscience

      Yes me please. Silence, some natural light as well but not so much as to force me to have the screen on max brightness burning my eyes for 8/9hours, humane temperature, is it so much to ask for?

    5. Mint Sauce

      I want to upvote this one meeeeleeeon times :-(

      Like many I suffer management that believe that 'communication' is key, so a big noisy open-plan office with a mix of coders and people who are on the phone all day is an excellent idea.

      People took the piss when I started first wearing ear defenders but before long more and more sets of headphones etc were appearing around the office.

      These days I just about survive with some Bose QC headphones. As mentioned elsewere its the nearby speech that's the real distraction for a lot of people. On their own the QC's make people sound 'further away' is the best way to describe it, they do work very well but can't block out the most determined oxygen thieves.

      Last year I discovered - I suggest checking it out and perhaps bunging the developer a few quid in appreciation if you use it (no link to him, just find the site really good). Playing a mix of background noise generators in conjunction with the noise cancelling headphones is usually enough to totally block all the office chatter.

      Now don't get me started on the window wars.... (for the record, I vote 'open' ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Now don't get me started on the window wars.... (for the record, I vote 'open' ;-)"

        Our old office had metal windows that could be opened - which played havoc with the air conditioning in areas away from the windows. Not to mention the draughts blowing loose papers everywhere.

        Then they refurbished the building with double glazing that could not be opened. In the move they threw away all the fans we had accumulated as they would no longer be needed. Come the first hot spell and the new air conditioning proved to be irrevocably patchy - and we wished we had squirrelled away some of the big fans.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Thanks for the tip. I have a set of "sounds of nature" CDs that I listen to a lot, but that site has so much more variety.

    6. Dazed and Confused

      Re: which can include a tendency to be distracted by things

      I find the music stops me being so easily distracted by everything else.


      The voices are very distracting, I'm useless in big social groups since I can't even filter out the other conversation around me and concentrate on what the person I'm talking to is say.

      So music, but no singing, so lots of instrumentals. A plumber introduced me to Joe Satriani a number of years ago and increased my productivity no end.

      The problem I have with silence is that I then tend to distract myself.

    7. Law

      In the office I need my earphones on... there's nothing playing on them, just to cut out the talking/calls of other people. It also discourages people from talking to me for just "being there" because they'd need me to remove my earphones to acknowledge them.

      Occasionally I'll need to play music through them to cope though. I'm lucky in that I can code with music playing or not, but it's the distractions and interruptions from people that slow me down, takes me ages to get back to what I was working on.

      I have all my email notifications turned off these days too, I just check it 3 times a day now (morning, post-lunch and before leaving the office.

      At home I work without earphones on, but I'll occasionally have music playing in another room just so I've got some noise.

  2. MalIlluminated

    DevOps saved me so much time that I had time to write an article about... what, exactly?

    1. Geoffrey W

      What is this life if, full of care, we have not time to stand and stare...

  3. streaky

    I mostly code to..

    Bryan Kearney sets so..

    I know a lot of devs with very crappy tastes in music so I recognise the data presented.

    1. yoganmahew

      Re: I mostly code to..

      I do not (aside from U2)...



      Green Day


      There you go, there's some crappy taste!

      (Alphabetised from the server... I have more speaker cable in my SoHo than 'computer' cables...).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: I mostly code to..

        Big thumbs up to the Orchestra! Messrs Lynne, Bevan, Tandy, Groucutt, Kaminski, Gale et al. have probably been responsible for more good in this world, and the next, that they'll ever realise. Shame they fell out with each other so badly. Ho hum. And the rest of your list can hardly be considered shabby.

        But if you absolutely need to churn out a lot of good high quality code, then melodic death metal is the fountain of inspiration, and luckily enough for us fans of the genre, there have been some astonishing recent releases from Be'lakor, Insomnium, Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum, A.Toma, Countless Skies, Dark the Suns, Enshine, The Ocean, and many, many more.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I mostly code to..

          I highly recommend the Rock Family Trees episode covering the Birmingham sounds - everyone from the Moody Blues through ELO and the Traveling Wilburys. The accents are *fantastic*. I live 5000 miles from Brum but it was like an instant teleport back.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: I mostly code to..

      Thomas Tallis, Philip Glass or Arvo Pärt. Sometimes Max Richter, Erik Satie or Ligeti.

      1. Baldie

        Re: I mostly code to..

        I thought I was in 100% agreement, but Ligeti?

        To your list I would add Brian Eno (and most of his collaborators), John Adams, Steve Reich and Johan Johansson.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: I mostly code to..

          I thought I was in 100% agreement, but Ligeti?

          Only for when my thoughts are getting stuck in an unproductive rut. Then Ligeti lets me get far enough away from the problem to tackle it another way.

        2. Geoffrey W

          Re: I mostly code to..


          Eno. Oh, how I wish it were time for Half Man Half Biscuit's Eno Collaboration (All across the Nation!). It would be awesome!

      2. pdebarra

        Re: I mostly code to..

        Lotta Tallis, but more Byrd, and plenty of their contemporaries from various other parts of Europe. And, on other days, Ministry, or perhaps Bach, or maybe Sabbath.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appropriate, since...

    I am the Katy Perry of Developers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appropriate, since...

      So you're thick, have no talent, an awful voice, but are fairly easy on the eye. A brutally honest self-appraisal if I may say so.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Appropriate, since...

        Well, I'm not fairly easy on the eye, but otherwise - spot on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appropriate, since...

      Developers having big tits isn't unusual and isn't limited to the females.

  5. bombastic bob Silver badge

    when I do coding I listen to...

    when I do coding, I listen to...

    a) conservative talk radio

    b) jazz (bebop and big band if it's playing)

    c) Hotmix JPOP (streaming radio)

    d) random sampling of 'whatever I have on hand', mostly 80's, JPOP, 'greatest hits' CDs, etc.

    e) 'classic rock' station that mostly plays what I used to listen to back in the 80's.

    RIAA excretions are generally crap these days anyway. 'new music' is usually overrated. Not always, though. Rare exceptions exist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: when I do coding I listen to...

      a) conservative talk radio

      You poor, poor bastard!

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: when I do coding I listen to...

        a) conservative talk radio

        You must be in the US. Over here in the UK, it's wall to wall leftie BBC crap.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: when I do coding I listen to...

          it's wall to wall leftie BBC crap.

          Strange. As a card-carrying leftie, I think the BBC is full of too many once-good interviewers letting too many government fools get away with talking shite unchallenged.

          Given the likely influence of confirmation bias in both our views, perhaps the Beeb are actually aiming for balance?

          1. AMBxx Silver badge

            Re: when I do coding I listen to...

            Interestingly, lots of upvotes first thing as all the private sector workers got to work. All the Public sector lefties roll up at 9.30am and the downvotes began!

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: when I do coding I listen to...

              I was in at 8am yesterday and quickly got more upvotes than you.

              Life is never so stereotypical as you might think.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: when I do coding I listen to...

                "8am" (or 9:30am, or ...) isn't exactly a useful value without an offset.

                Regardless, upvotes/downvotes as implemented by ElReg are meaningless.

  6. Diogenes

    Don't do much coding these days

    but when I do it is either polyphonic (eg Thomas Tallis , de Morales etc ) or Baroque up to and including Mozart

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't do much coding these days

      > polyphonic (...) or Baroque up to and including Mozart

      No, music went into decline after 1750 (alright 1759 at a push), with a brief revival between 1968 and 1972.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Coding tunage at Chez jake:

    C and assembler: Mid to late '70s Punk.

    Scripting languages: Blues.

    Works for me, anyway.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward




    Robert Johnson

    Grateful Dead

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: classics

      I don't think Robert Johnson was that grateful to be dead.

  9. joed

    who's been surveyed?

    Qualtrics' own devs (fine if done with their consent) or fished across the web? I do recall Qualtrics' scripts on HP's sites but I'd not connected them with this kind of data gathering. Anyway, I'd block them just because of their name.

  10. Geoffrey W

    Van Der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill, and BBC radio 4. Or Virginia Astley if I'm feeling mellow - From Gardens Where we Feel Secure. Drives my wife mad when its VdGG day; but its better than Dorky Day...Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky Dorky...

    1. Geoffrey W

      ...Oh, and Syd Barrett and the First Pink Floyd record "Piper at the Gates". Syd has a strange effect on me and seems to fire my imagination and lends inspiration. Better than drugs. Stuck? Have a chat with Syd.

  11. ammabamma

    Bunch of metalheads at Chez Ammabamma

    My daughter and I both like to listen to metal-type music when we hack up some silly little Arduino/Raspberry Pi project together.

    I've introduced her to the "classics": Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Motörhead, and U.D.O.. She's shown me Avatar, Battlebeast, Sabaton, and Volbeat. There's nary a Taylor Swift or Katie Perry n sight (or in hearing) here!

    1. MondoMan
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bunch of metalheads at Chez Ammabamma

      Nice! I'd throw in some AC/DC favorites, and random individual songs like Dragula.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Bunch of metalheads at Chez Ammabamma

      Same here. With slightly different ordering and the addition of Alice Cooper to hold the poll position.

    3. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: Bunch of metalheads at Chez Ammabamma

      Oh yes, some classic rock there!

      I much prefer to crank up more extreme Scandinavian prog metal, Insommnium, Ghost Brigade, Swallow the Sun, chuck in a bit of trad death and thrash to break up the day. It's incredibly relaxing listening to some nutter screaming and grunting at the top of his lungs, no seriously it is! I used to have a colleague who also found it much better for him to code while listening to such music as Amon Amarth and other viking metal treats.

      I assume it's something to do with the fact that you can't hear the words, a death grunt vocalist sounds like just another instrument. A very low register and no distracting words in the music I can concentrate more I suppose.

  12. Dagg Silver badge


    Got da be metal, the heaver the better. Metallica, Ramstein, Celtic frost....

    1. Naselus

      Re: C++

      Pantera. Lots and lots of Pantera.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: C++

        Is that *antera without the Hungarian notation?

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Lucinda Williams

    Loud and raw

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Bhangra? I thought everything was outsourced by now.

  15. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The choice of music depends on what you are coding

    Your typical startup-style, no rest for the wicked binge coding is best written to "Jesus Christ Superstar". You also find that you tend to follow the script too. You code to The Getsemane, you live by The Getsemane:

    Then I was inspired, now I'm sad and tired

    Listen, surely I've exceeded expectations

    Tried for three years, seems like thirty

    Could you ask as much from any other man?

    So after you have been run like a slave for 3 years, the Getsemane commands you to get up and f*** leave. I did it at my last job - the whole project was pretty much written with Jesus Christ Superstar on the stereo 24x7x365. Then after 3 years I had enough, I got up and left.

    1. milet

      Re: The choice of music depends on what you are coding

      And I thought I was the only one to code by "Jesus Christ Superstar"... Did all of my MSc project to that album, back in 1995.

  16. wolfetone Silver badge

    Well, there's no accounting for taste.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There's always a taste for accounting though.

      Have you filled in your timesheet accurate to 15 minute intervals?

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Have you filled in your timesheet accurate to 15 minute intervals?"

        I, er, no. No I haven't.

        Bono ate my time sheet. Said something about every 4 seconds a child dies and didn't want me adding to the problem.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Have you filled in your timesheet accurate to 15 minute intervals?

        I once added a 15-second entry to a timesheet in 1989: "Fucked an Apple".

        No-one ever asked me what that actually meant, from which I concluded that no-one gave a shit about timesheets.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One of my previous jobs wanted us to fill in our timesheets to that degree (iirc it was 10 minute intervals). Most of us were IT trainers. Our time sheets ended up mostly consisting of training or filling out timesheet. They eventually dropped it.

        1. BongoJoe

          I've worked for three outfits which had punchcards which worked to deciHours, i.e. six minute intervals, that we had to fill in time sheets for.

  17. BongoJoe

    I have POWER WINDOWS on infinite loop. Nothing else.

    Not sure what a 'mom' is but whomever this fabled being may be I can't see them recognising anything more modern than a C90 cassette with the tape wrapped around the player's rollers.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      I prefer a little ambient... like

      Brian Eno.

  18. QdK


    It's Kraftwerk and RMB, Hardsequencer so more like techno/hardtrance that was hip 20 years ago, and electronic music even older... Oh but if stuffs needs to be done yesterday, it's definately ROTATOR!!

    1. Martin Gregorie

      Re: Depends...

      Easy question: Frank Zappa boots streamed off Zappateers, Radio 4 or silence.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Working late in the evening meant an otherwise empty office - so the Libera choir CDs could go on full blast. Eventually had to buy their CDs for the security guards and cleaners too.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Mr Sceptical

    Taylor Swift & Katy Perry?!?

    Who are these people, devs or script kiddies??

    I need a bit of tempo to code to: Offspring, Green Day or the like. Occassionally a bit of electronica for variety.

    Plus, it blocks out any distracting conversations nearby.

    1. horse of a different color

      Re: Taylor Swift & Katy Perry?!?

      Coders gonna code, code, code, code, code,

      Compilers gonna 'pile, 'pile, 'pile, 'pile, 'pile

      Check it in, yeah, check it in

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Taylor Swift & Katy Perry?!?

      I was wondering if these numbers came from the coding boot camps in the US. They enroll the otherwise unemployable so they can become developers - because it's just that easy, isn't it? I imagine they are then employed by the government, because that would explain so much.

  22. TRT Silver badge

    Taylor Swift???

    Explains many things.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Taylor Swift???

      Well, that's better than Taylor Objective C

  23. Prosthetic Conscience

    These artists?! Your problem is they all have vocals, can't work with vocals. Can't work near the kitchen breakout area in the open plan office either. Some people left for another office now there's more open space fewer desks: Great! Nope, PMs and C*O come stroll around loudly talking on their mobiles in the empty area now. Someone back in accounts clearly can't see their desk phone flashing in their face so the ringtone volume is turned to 11.. The IT tech support guys, bless them, get bored and start playing music on some Sonos, which I personally find as the most anti-social thing you can do in an open plan office (and yes generic crap music from in the survey). Not to mention some of the girls and guys I can hear shouting to each other across the entire office asking questions. Why are people so afraid of silence? I like to play music (usually to block all the above (and yes usually disgusting (to some people) military grade jungle or hardcore or acid tekno with a K) but I use earphones!!! I don't blast it to everyone). Nothing beats silence.

    Do I sound upset?

  24. alain williams Silver badge

    No vocals

    I find that words distract (maybe uses the same part of my brain that I use for coding), so pure instrumental works for me - classical is great, baroque is best (most modern/pop is crap anyway).

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: No vocals

      This is the problem with noise-blocking headphones. They're OK at blocking drone noises but not at speech - it's not predictable enough. And the manufacturers often consider it an advantage : remove jet noise but be able to hear your companion.

      For dev work you want to block the speech and allow the drone noise through. I don't think drowning speech out is ever going to work.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: No vocals

      "I find that words distract (maybe uses the same part of my brain that I use for coding)"

      How about instrumental jazz and JPOP (since it's in a foreign lingo that I'm not entirely familiar with, the words just run by like it's part of the music when I listen to it). Then again, you can't understand Robert Plant at all... so maybe some old Zeppelin too?

  25. Adrian 4

    happy medium

    I've wanted to use music to block office noise but never found anything suitable. Stuff I like distracts me. So does stuff I don't like. Pap is just irritating .. you can ignore it for a while then it just overwhelms you with horror.

    Working at home is OK - the noises are birdsong and distant voices, easier to tune out and not so silent that the computer fan becomes a raging whirlwind.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: happy medium

      "Pap is just irritating .. you can ignore it for a while then it just overwhelms you with horror."

      whenever "that band who shall not be named that sounds like you hold your nose while singing something repetitive and stupid about sharing a lonely view with birds" comes on the radio, I am _COMPELLED_ to shut that @#$% off NOW, dammit! like that?

      yeah, better to have an icecast server of your own, with your own playlists, and an internet-capable radio-like device plugged into the big system, that you can switch to if "other people's playlists" start sucking or something.

    2. I am the liquor

      Re: happy medium, as recommended by another poster above, could be your answer.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eye care

    Silence is very good, but sometimes you get something in your eye, or they just get a bit itchy from staring too much at the screen and you need to get the old eye juices going. Something like hearing Sandy Denny on Fairport Convention's "Unhalfbricking" clears out my tear ducts, before it even gets to "Who knows here the time goes". Richard Thompson's guitar backing it up is just devastating...

    1. /dev/null

      Re: Eye care

      +1 for the late great Sandy... one of the more frequently listened-to artists on the small but perfectly formed music collection on my phone. Check out her exquisite cover of Knockin' on Heaven's Door if you haven't already.

  27. Ed Courtenay

    It'll depend on my mood, but to truly get 'in the zone' I find electronica to be a good starting point; Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Art of Noise, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, InfantJoy...

    That said, I've been on a monster Penguin Cafe Orchestra binge recently.

  28. Ottman001

    I don't often listen to music while working because I find it causes the screen to repeatedly disappear outside both the top and then bottom of my field of vision. The effect is particularly extreme when listening to Rage Against The Machine.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      And presumably, while headbanging, you get epic qwertyface.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was recommended this by a colleague once.

    It creates a cafe background noise ( seemingly more now ).

  30. Chairman of the Bored

    An then the pointy haired mgr showed up..

    Workin' for The Man from the five sided building on the Potomac:

    Stage 1: pointy hair says, "You shouldn't play music as someone may take offense to its content." Rather than trust people to act like adults and negotiate a mutually acceptable compromise... ban the music! Heaven forbid we talk to one another and, I dont know - bond and form teams, maybe even grow to see each other as unique and valuable human beings?

    Stage 2: We will pipe in sound for you from a noncontroversial source. Ok - I was hoping for a good brown noise gen. What we got is either alternating between left and right wing 'news' stations - both batshit crazy - or the Weather Channel. Someone hijacked the feed to give us South Park re-runs and almost got himself fired. That itself would be worthy of a South Park episode. Deep, man.

    Stage 3: For reasons I completely understand and approve of we cannot use personal CDs in the Man's machines, and nor can we have our phones or other electronics near same. Ok, no problem - old school Sony Discman to the rescue

    Stage 4: You can have your discman but no speakers. You CANNOT have personally owned headphones (per 'security') so you can only use headphones if provided by The Man

    Stage 5: The Man doesnt buy stuff for your personal use Period. And even if he did, you dare not plug it into your personal discman - that would be a 'security issue'

    I hit the silk!!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music to developer profile

    U2 - contractor, well off, nearing retirement. Owns second (or more) investment properties. Fairly good at job, but unbearably smug with it. Not as irreplaceable as he thinks he is. Will be ejected with little notice as part of a cost-saving exercise. Tax expert, Tory voter. Talks about retiring abroad, but never will.

    Taylor Swift - web 'developer'. Probable man-bun and twat-beard. Generally harmless, but also generally useless. Good taste in coffee; proud Apple Watch wearer. Wanted the ceramic version, but couldn't afford it, due to a recent rent increase on his Old Street flat. Big on social media but little of worth to say.

    The Beatles - permie, nearing retirement. Slow coder, pedantic. Big fan of The North Face back-packs, jackets. Cycles to work - a MAMIL. Doesn't look good in Lycra. Smells of sweat, but no-one's told him yet. DevOps and Agile fan. Wears a Citizen watch. Inoffensive to all.

    Maroon 5 - thinks he moves like Jagger, but actually moves like Merkel. Sad-dad. Universally laughed at. No-one quite gets how he passed the interview, having produced absolutely nothing of note since.

    Linkin Park - Balding with pony-tail. Teenage kids. Unfulfilled life, stay-at-home wife. Miserable, but quite nice if you talk to them. Deeply in love with the young executive assistant who in return doesn't notice him at all. Quietly agrees with Brexit.

    Katy Perry - just a complete talentless twat. Same for the developer. Listening to Katy Perry should be grounds for dismissal.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Music to developer profile

      "thinks he moves like Jagger, but actually moves like Merkel."

      Thanks a lot. Now there's tea all over the table and bloody management smirking at me cleaning up the mess...

  32. ofnuts

    Bagpipes. Instrumental, so no brain power waster following the lyrics. Easily cover any background noise. Monotonous rhythm helps putting you in the coding trance.

  33. ForthIsNotDead

    I'm a Dire Straits bloke meself, like...

    Learning new coding techniques: Your Latest Trick

    Debugging at midnight: Private Investigations

    Helping your colleague debug some code: Brothers In Arms

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: I'm a Dire Straits bloke meself, like...

      I'm guessing you get Your Money for Nothing too...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm a Dire Straits bloke meself, like...

        and when he has to move the printer he has a Brother in arms.

    2. ofnuts

      Re: I'm a Dire Straits bloke meself, like...

      Old-style Java GUI app: Sultans of Swing

      Fixing that nasty production bug: Local Hero

      And of course: The Bug.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mostly electronic or instrumental.

    Lacklustre (especially Container)

    Redneck Manifesto




    Thelonious Monk

    Black Dog


  35. ChrisC Silver badge

    Mostly a mix of foreign language artists - Rammstein, Megaherz, Skalmold and Terasbetoni for when I just want a wall of noise to block out everything else to let me focus on the code in front of me, or Ruslana, Clannad, Mor ve Otesi and a handful of one-off tracks from some other performers if I just want to keep my ears entertained without simulating the speech processing parts of my brain - and instrumental/orchestral/soundtrack for times when I'm in a more relaxed mood but still want something that can be played loud.

  36. RickenBacker75

    Weird tastes...

    Personally I'll listen to anything and everything, though some music gets switched off quickly depending on my level of frustration. My favourite music to have in the background though is Wardruna, nothing like the music of the Vikings to focus the mind (and have the family wondering what the hell you're listening to when working from the home office).

    Other than that I listen to a lot of video game soundtracks, Red Dead Redemption, Assassin's Creed (1 to Brotherhood) and the like. I find it real helps focus my 40+ year old brain.

    Occasionally I'll stray into the music of my youth, Guns and Roses, New Model Army and Mike Oldfield appearing the most frequently.

  37. Thomas Steven 1

    Which songs?

    Where the streets have node names?

  38. spacecadet66 Bronze badge

    I'm surprised that Daft Punk, for instance, didn't make the top five...and Linkin Park did?

  39. heyrick Silver badge

    Mood music

    If I'm coding for fun, I'll be listening to Kalafina.

    If I'm debugging, Nightwish.

    If I'm debugging somebody else's code, Sarah McLachlan.

  40. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Working in a general office it was worth listening in to the surrounding conversation. That way you could get advance warning of some of the crap ideas heading your way.

  41. lee harvey osmond

    Movie soundtracks!

    We'll start with a nice bit of Zeppelin.

    Bach -- The Well-Tempered Clavier, as recorded by Glenn Gould (great sound engineering job, you can't hear him humming along)

    Britney -- I'm an 'older male fan', I'm sure you understand

    Barry Martin's Hamsters -- assorted Americana, especially Texas Boogie, strictly a religious matter

    Stevie Ray Vaughan -- same again but for the mainliners, come to the source!

    Claude Debussy -- Nuages, La Mer, that sort of stuff. And La fille aux cheveux de lin of course.

    Chopin preludes, bit of Elgar....

    Soundtrack albums are good, especially Blade Runner or Twin Peaks. Terminator 2. A whole stack of John Williams's Star Wars work.

    Or, on a fine day, open the QuickTime player, find the M4V of Dino de Laurentiis's 'Waterloo', and leave that running in the background....

    Lord Uxbridge: [clears throat] Sir.

    Duke of Wellington: [removing his copy of The Times from over his face] Ah, Uxbridge.

    Lord Uxbridge: As I am second-in-command and in case anything should happen to you, what are your plans?

    Duke of Wellington: Why, to beat the French!

    [goes back to sleep, replacing the newspaper]

    Lord Uxbridge: By God, Sir. I've lost my leg.

    Duke of Wellington: By God, Sir. So you have.

    Field Marshal Gebhard von Blucher: Raise high the black flags, my children. No prisoners. No pity. I will shoot any man I see with pity in him.

    ... not that there's much wrong with Sharpe's Waterloo either. "I wish you joy of the day!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Movie soundtracks!

      > Bach -- The Well-Tempered Clavier, as recorded by Glenn Gould

      If the harpsichord was good enough for JSB, then its good enough for me. I'll be having none of this piano nonsense, thank you!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Movie soundtracks!

        I'll be having none of this piano nonsense, thank you!

        And (from a very hazy distant memory) it's an *electronic* piano[1] too.

        [1] Plus other assorted electronica.

  42. Carl Pearson


    I work out of the house; my honey has to have TV on all the time so I've gotten her a set of bluetooth headphones. Fortunately I'm on a quiet street and my neighbors are at their jobs during the day, so not much aural interruption.

    So, in my office it's usually either silence, or a couple of Soma.FM stations (a USA streaming outfit based in San Francisco). No commercials save the occasional seconds-long "beg" for funds. Have been a subscriber for a couple years now.

    Normally I don't like hearing words when coding, but their Groove Salad channel is nice; and for some reason neither Mission Control nor SF-1033 bother the language side of the brain (those feature trippy-dippy background music with either NASA mission or Bay Area Police/Fire/EMT radio chatter).

    There's also a classical station out of Switzerland which is nice as they have no breaks, just music, and blessedly little opera. Another nice one is from Germany but they talk between songs, mentioning who you just heard.

    Oh, am in my mid-50's, so breaking from the demographic listed in the story...

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: !Speak

      There's also a classical station out of Switzerland which is nice as they have no breaks

      In a similar vein, there is a prog music internet radio site in France ( that *just* plays prog. The only breaks are 5-second station announcements plus the odd break-in from a prog musician advertising the station.

      Run by 3 blokes on a shoestring budget. Well worth supporting if you like prog music.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the open-plan hellhole where I work you'd be hard put to see anyone *not* wearing headphones - damagement are the obvious exception, what with them being in their ivory towers offices.

    What I listen to will depend on what I'm working on and how I'm feeling - there's been a lot of shrieky, guitary stuff of late (eg. Ministry, Napalm Death, Slayer, early Metallica) plus the usual 'classic' rock/metal fayre (eg. Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Motorhead). Quite a bit of electronica, too - ranging from bangin' techno all the way down to full-on beatless ambient. Variety, and all that.

    Conversely, when I'm working at home I'm quite content to open the office window and listen to the sounds of birdsong and passing trains.

    U2? Taylor Swift? Bollocks to all that ...

  44. Stevie


    I use music to shut out the noise in the office when I'm serious about what I'm doing.

    I prefer something that doesn't grab my attention for this so normally it has to be instrumental and not avant-garde in rhythm changes.

    Lately this has been stuff like movie soundtracks for LOTR, Star Trek, Alien and the Myst game soundtracks. Other faves include the soundtrack to Enemy at the Gate (but that one is too distracting sometimes) and the sountracks done by Peter Gabriel. At the end of the 90s I wrote a massive web-delivered utility to the music of Sky (as yer Mum) and Mecca Bodega (a NY local world music band with a killer Hammered Dulcimer player who seems to get paid by the note).

    Commute music has been Glass Hammer, Dream Theater and just recently Mark Knopfler and King Crimson. I like to change stuff up and have around 800 albums ranging from 1930s Hot Jazz to Electronic Minimalist on my laptop to choose from.

  45. Number6

    I will add my +1 to the Bose QC comments. I had a different set of NC headphones for some time but finally decided to splash the cash and it was well worth it.

    I find that having music I know helps take out the residual noise. My ears just lock on to that and require no more brain power to process what they already know, and I can be oblivious to nearby conversations and work much better.

    When it comes to music choices, most of mine dates back to the 70s and early 80s: Queen, ELO, Bowie, Quo, plus some silly ones like Star Trekkin' to lighten the mood a bit.

    There's a lot talked about Millennials working in shared space but when you look, they're all hunched over their screen to minimise visible distractions and all wearing headphones to take out the noise of everyone else nearby. So much for collaborative workspace, they'd probably be much happier in offices and not open plan.

  46. Woza

    My soundtrack

    Quiet office, nothing to block out: selection from Sarah Brightman, Haley Westenra, various classical pieces

    Noisy office: selection from Guns n Roses, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Birds of Tokyo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miracle of Sound

    I always play the same sequence, so my brain knows what the voices are going to say and so is free to ignore them while I immerse myself in the code - often when I surface I don't recall actually hearing the songs. Contrast to actual conversations which are in principle unpredictable and force my brain to spend attention on parsing them before it can ignore them.

  47. YouStupidBoy

    I find it depends on the type of day weatherwise as much as anything.

    Nice, sunny day - fire up a Test Match Special podcast and my productivity goes up a good 15-20% in terms of time taken to complete a task. Fewer mistakes, too.

    Typical Brit weather day, can be anything from Abba to Hooked on Classics, Metallica, Snoop Dogg, Chainsmokers, Yngwie Malmsteen, Madonna, Spice Girls, or some current US country songs (Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts).

    Used to drive my girlfriend crazy when our music playlist would skip around genres like Bambi on meth :)

  48. AZump

    Guess I kill the curve...

    I'm over 40, I don't use headphones, and I stream Drum and Bass from when I code. The tempo is perfect and non-stop. Everything but my monitor disappears for *hours* on end. Can't imagine coding to anything else even though my musical taste is made of many genres over many years.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't work for me

    Music doesn't work for me. I've tried all sorts and it boils down to this.

    1. If I don't like it, I don't listen to it.

    2. If I do like it, I like it a lot. Which means I'm playing air guitar, or singing along, or looking up the YouTube video, or the CD liner notes, or...basically anything but coding.

    I particularly don't recommend David Bowie's Station to Station album ('Stay' ticks *all* the boxes in the second category and is simultaneously one of the finest pieces of music from the 1970s and the most productivity-destroying six minutes in my collection)

  50. tiggity Silver badge


    Usually .. occasionally (weather, time of year dependent dependent) in our office we tune a radio to TMS at low enough volume that if you need to concentrate it does not disturb

  51. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    My music choice..

    (Currently playing - Spock's Beard "Waiting for me")

    Music choice varies from prog rock (about 60% of my music collection), prog metal, prog folk (and traditional Folk & Folk Rock) to classical and some bits of 1970's rock (early Billy Joel), reggae (Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Steel Pulse et. al), Ska, Electronica (mostly JMJ), jazz (modern *and* traditional) and a bit of punk (Undertones mostly).

    In short, anything *other* than current pop (with one exception - I have the album from Christine and the Queens).

  52. Julifriend

    If U2 is the most popular music to listen to when coding then a) I'm glad I gave up coding many, many years ago and b) I'm glad we outsource our software development.

  53. jelabarre59

    wrong continent

    I can't code/write with music, but if I did, it would more likely be J-pop/anisong or Vocaloid.

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