The Sound of Silence

Death Plunge (icon)

—tl;dr:  Silence while working is great if you live in the I.S.S. or on an island. (school education has completly destroyed my ability to sum stuff.) —

I’ll write “listen to music while working” all along this article but I think it’s more “hearing” or “having a background sound/reference”, no one can really listen to music while doing something else. But today, I shan’t describe what “listening to music” is. ;)

Few years ago I’ve read the absolutely amazing Richard Williams’ “Animation Techniques” book where a very wise sentence is written “working in the silence, is better, because you can’t concentrate with music.”. (it’s not exactly written like that, it’s from memory) Wise, but being this absolute is pretentious (Mr. Richard Williams is a master but)…

it maybe true, except that when you are used to work with music, the first 3 months without it are really difficult ; when you finally manage to get rid of the music suddenly you figure out that you didn’t bought a recording studio to work in. There’s no such thing as Silence.

At this point you will hear your neighbors speaking, watching reality shows, or listening to shitty pop music. At this point you will hear all stupid dogs barking all day long. At this point you will hear all cars in the street (and especially those stupid teenager with modified scooters that override plane reactors sounds). Daytime is just not a place for silence.

I often work at night. I spend years working all night longs, to get rid of those previous annoyances (and phone calls, haha) ; with or without music, working at night is pleasant and effective for most of artists I know. But the “silent night” is really short (it’s something around 1 to 6 am), so you will -in any ways- have to start or finish your daily tasks during daytime.

And finally, if you are an artist[1], you will had to conciliate a night time work, a day job, and maybe a relationship which are -collateral tasks- laborious and exhausting to take care of. (relationship is a work, YES, you can be lucky, there’s no way your partner will tolerate your schedule all the time. Take care of that too.)

Honestly silence have some advantages, it’s really relaxing, my work and health increased in quality during the years I used it.

It’s been a few months I restarted to listen to music while working, and things finally get done more quickly. I found that music is a good way to keep track of time while working, knowing how many hours you are working on a part without having to check a watch is an effective and soothing way to work.

Maybe silence is good for some people, but I’m in a category that can’t bear noisy and unharmonic sounds while working. You should definetly try both ways, it’s always better to know details of ourselves.


[1] With the word artist I mean artist and programmers, and allnighters that are not paid, or paid a pittance for the job.