With everyone working from home, productivity has taken a nosedive. Focusing on work isn’t easy. One of the simplest ways to avoid that pitfall is to employ the use of headphones. According to Sonos, 67% of people believe listening to music helps them get more done than drinking a cup of coffee. Tune in to some no-vocal audio and let the work come quickly. (Note: this doesn’t have to be no-vocal music if even the sound of keys is distracting. More on that below.)
The issue with no-vocal audio, of course, is that finding it isn’t always easy. If you were looking for some disco music, you’d find it in bunches – there are playlists pretty much everywhere. No-vocal music and other audio aren’t always so easy to find. If you’re struggling to get work done, here’s our favorite no-vocal music for productivity (and other audio.)
1. Classical Music
Classical music is, of course, a classic. It’s probably the first thing that comes to mind for anyone when they think about no-vocal music. Most of it was composed before microphones exist, so a lack of vocals pretty much earmarks it. With plenty of audio now on the internet, there’s enough classical music to keep you going for weeks.
The Sound: Classical music comes in a lot of varieties. From chilling piano melodies to epic symphonies, it’s hard to pin down an exact sound. Classical music tends to be pleasant and deep, often with a lot of harmonic complexity. However, because classical music is the cornerstone of modern music, the sound is usually easy for your ears to comprehend.
The Rhythm: Classical music tends to be some of the slower, more steadily paced, no-vocal audio out there. While tempo changes do happen, a lack of strong rhythmic quality makes it easy to pass by. Classical music is almost all easy listening, even when it’s on the offensive or loud side.
The Flowstate: When it comes to music for productivity, classical music is great for the early morning tasks. It provides a smooth backdrop for whatever you’re doing but isn’t normally so intense as to keep you too sucked in on something. Classical music is best as stimulating productivity when you’re doing meeting preparation or working to find ideas.
Listen to: AccuRadio offers a good selection.
2. Video Game Soundtracks
Many would consider video game soundtracks the modern equivalent of classical music, as it maintains similar themes and concepts. Video game soundtracks are designed with productivity and focus in mind. While they aren’t all no-vocal audio, many soundtracks lack vocals entirely – and serve as a great backdrop for work.
The Sound: When you think video game music, you almost certainly think of the 8-bit gaming sounds of the past. Modern video games have grown in sound quality, but still, keep a lot of that old composition. Sounds range from intense “final boss” music to upbeat menu tracks.
The Rhythm: Video game music tends to be noticeably different from other music because of it’s steady rhythm, even when drums aren’t present. Rarely will you hear great sweeping sounds or abrupt tempo changes, as the music tends to maintain a steady beat meant to be played along to? This makes video game music some of the best for productivity.
The Flowstate: Video game music is best for periods of intense mental work. If you’ve ever sat forward in your seat to beat a level, you know that video game music can keep you locked in for intense work over a short period. If you’re prepping for a few hours of high productivity, the best no-vocal music to turn to is your favorite video game soundtrack.
Listen to: If you don’t have a go-to video game soundtrack, this playlist might help.
3. Movie Scores
Staying on pace, movie scores are great no-vocal audio for productivity. Similar to previous entries, movie scores have been made to be in the background, but also to provide immersion. If a piece of audio can make you feel like you’re ready to take back the world, then it can certainly make you feel ready to finish up that big project.
The Sound: When discussing great movie scores, usually, the topic will stay on the dramatic. Whether it’s Oscar-winning tragedies or blockbusting action, movie scores tend to have similar themes. Huge orchestral harmonies with a melody or two present in the foreground to keep your mind focused.
The Rhythm: Movie scores don’t tend to include many rhythmic elements, instead of sticking to only a handful of drums. While this can vary, usually, the rhythm will only serve to move things along. This can help to keep you in rhythm with what’s going on on the movie screen, and that transfers very well to work.
The Flowstate: For productivity purposes, movie scores are some of the best no-vocal music for an extended period of steady work. If you’re doing a task that requires you to maintain productivity for a few hours, bouncing around between tabs, then you should look to your favorite movie’s music as a backdrop.
Listen to: Your favorite movie scores can be found on most streaming services, but this Pandora Radio station is great for discovering new ones.
4. Chill Hop
Lo-fi hip hop has become the most mainstream no-vocal music for productivity, and with good reason. While 24/7 streams regularly achieve hundreds of viewers at a time on YouTube, you’ll often notice that very few people are talking in the stream comments. Why? Because it’s hard not to get things done when you tune in.
The Sound: Lo-fi hip hop is known for its warm sounds, with the use of vinyl samples or vinyl recreation to make new music sound old. The sound tends to skip out on complex melodic elements, and instead stick to rhythmic harmonies. Usually, sounds will come from old jazz or soul music.
The Rhythm: The rhythm is what gives lo-fi hip hop its appeal. With ever-present drums, this is the only no-vocal music you could dance to. Lo-fi hip hop shies away from the intense rhythms of its parent genre, instead of leaning towards a slower but still groovy beat.
The Flowstate Lo-fi hip hop is great for getting your ears to rest for a bit, and getting work done. It helps to achieve a state where work is getting done, but your mind is free to wander. Lo-fi hip hop is great for creative tasks, helping to learn something new, or for staying in a working mood through the sleepier parts of the day.
Listen to: Chill Hop is the premier place for new lo-fi hip hop.
5. No Vocals, Only Beats
No Vocals, Only Beats is another great place to get that lo-fi hip-hop vibe, but with a bit of a twist. Spotify has a huge collection of no-vocal music that you probably would have never heard. Luckily, it also has a great collection of playlist makers with a knack for finding music like this.
The Sound: No Vocals, Only Beats is rooted in lo-fi hip hop, but veers out into R&B and indie music sounds frequently. These kinds of music tend to have more immersive melodies than what you would find in lo-fi hip-hop, with deeper harmonies to match. These songs bridge the gap between modern and old no-vocal music.
The Rhythm: The rhythm of songs on No Vocals, Only Beats, is very similar to the rhythm of lo-fi hip hop. The playlist is a bit more curated than Chill Hop streams, keeping a more steady beat throughout. There are enough songs on this playlist that you can keep it on loop, and the smooth blend of it all means you likely wouldn’t notice.
The Flowstate: No Vocals, Only Beats is a more relaxing sound than other items on this list, making it great for those things you just don’t want to do. When work feels a little too much like work, it’s great to tune into this playlist and get sucked away. The steady rhythm helps to achieve that, without making it too hard to keep up your productivity.
Listen to: No Vocals, Only Beats
6. Simply Noise
If even no-vocal music might be a little too distracting for you, there are plenty of other no-vocal audio options for productivity. SimplyNoisee is one of the premiere websites for this kind of audio, allowing you to create customized noises for your work. These noises can come from all over the audio landscape, but there is some science to it.
The Sound: The sound of theNoisee you’ll find on SimplyNoisee can be tough to explain. The basic idea is that all of these sounds are meant less to create a specific mood, and more to get your ears to stop sending you information all the time. Ranging from rain sounds to whiteNoisee and many other colors, “fuzzy” might be the best descriptor.
The Rhythm: While not musical, there is a rhythm to this no-vocal audio – it’s all over the place. The impossible-to-pin-down rhythm ofNoisee makes it confusing to your ear. Unpleasant for a moment, but soon you’ll forget you put anything on at all.
The Flowstate: There is plenty of science behind why this helps your productivity. WhiteNoisee is great for removing distractions, amazing if you’ve got roommates or family at home. PinkNoisee helps to relax your ears, and the rest of you to follow, and brownNoisee creates a deep, soothing sound. These are all great for when you don’t need help with your mood for productivity, just your ability to focus.
Listen to: Simply Noise
7. Ambient Electronica
Of course, noises isn’t the only ambient audio on the market, either. Plenty of musicians and similarly audio-obsessed people have stepped in to help people with their productivity. Ambient electronica can be some of the most instrumental music on the market.
The Sound: Ambient electronica tends to combine real nature sounds with computer-generated, expertly placed melodies and harmonies. From low bass sounds to mellow melodies, every sound is meant to capture a mood and to capture your peripheral attention. The addition of other sounds simply adds to the experience.
The Rhythm: If any rhythm is present in ambient electronica, then it’s usually low and hard to pick out. Ambient electronica is easy to listen to, as the rhythm mostly passes through you. If you like the idea of lo-fi hip-hop but need your no-vocal audio a little less present, this is the road to walk down.
The Flowstate: No-vocal audio for productivity doesn’t get much more productive than ambient electronica. Combining the best of the music and the noise world, ambient electronica allows you to forget about everything else going on and focus on a project. It’s best for tasks that require focus but not intense focus.
Listen to:‘ This album is a favorite of many ambient electronica listeners.
8. Generated Ambient Sounds
The no-music version of ambient electronica is, of course, ambient sounds. These have been around since the glory days of vinyl, but have taken a step forward in recent years. Noisli is one of the premier ambient sound generators out there today, with fantastic sound combinations to choose from.
The Sound: The nature of generated ambient sounds makes them the hardest no-vocal audio to which to prescribe a singular sound. Because each is meant to provide something different, it’s impossible to say what to expect. Most of these sounds are recorded from nature, though, giving them a natural and peaceful sound.
The Rhythm: Generated ambient sounds tend to use loops based on a specific block of time, which is the only rhythm present. Bird sounds, for example, might begin each hour. A distinct call can, therefore, create a very drawn out rhythm over the space of a workday.
The Flowstate: Generated ambient sounds are the premiere no-vocal audio to put on in the background and completely forget about. They’re there more as a reminder that you’re working right now than anything else. Without putting you in an obvious flowstate, these keep you from wandering off of your path.
Listen to: Noisli
9. Twin Pillars
Twin Pillars Records deserves a mention of its own because of its breadth of no-vocal music. This record label makes some of the premiere productivity-boosting, flowstate-inducing music out there.
The Sound: Twin Pillars offers a wide variety of music and other no-vocal audio, all with a lean towards the relaxing. The music tends to be slow and easy on the ears, staying relatively simple throughout. Without being too remarkable, the sounds are usually catchy and keep your brain active.
The Rhythm: Twin Pillars no-vocal music is usually designed for productivity or use in audio and video projects, so the rhythm is a little upbeat without being too in your face. Songs tend to vary in rhythm between them, so your ear jumps around a bit. This makes listening to Twin Pillars songs over an extended period stimulating but not intense.
The Flowstate: Twin Pillars no-vocal audio and music is great for working through that first cup of coffee when you need to focus up and perk up at the same time. Of course, it can help just as much on that second cup after lunch. If your productivity slumps mid-morning or mid-day, you need Twin Pillars in your headphones.
Listen to: This playlist is where you can find Twin Pillars no-vocal music.
10. Meditation Music
It would be very hard to finish this list off without mentioning meditation music. While meditation is a very specific activity, it’s not the only meditative activity. Plenty of work puts us in a similar state, and a good flowstate should feel just as good as meditation.
The Sound: Meditation music is slow and immersive, usually with bass harmonies and interesting sounds interspersed. It’s one of the most drawn-out forms of music out there, allowing your brain to fill the gaps in no-vocal audio. It will often lead you directly to a meditative state, which is great for productivity.
The Rhythm: Rhythms in meditation music tend to be Eastern-influenced, with a melodic element and some interesting notes. Like the aforementioned Twin Pillars music, this can help your ears perk up when needed, but is not overly distracting even if you listen for long time periods.
The Flowstate: When it comes to a flowstate for productivity, meditation music might be the closest thing to a catch-all. While every entry on this list certainly serves a purpose, mediation music combines many of them. Meditation music is great for getting deep into your work and allowing any other thought to fade away.
Listen to: The Honest Guys produce great meditation music.
About the Author: Eric Turner is a writer and digital marketer with a lot of ideas and no clue. Eric is obsessed with storytelling in any and all of its forms, from high literature to abstract art to pro wrestling. Eric has been featured in The Guardian and enjoys working with people from all around the globe.