31 Music suggestions to get you to graduation

Illustration by Rachael Obermiller

By Anna DeSmet

When it comes to study music, I like to think I have a wellspring of knowledge. In fact, I try to spend as little time listening to other people as possible. Get ready for some darn good advice, because studying takes up at least 15 percent of my life at the moment. Let us celebrate this sad reality with some great tunes! I have divided some of my study music into four categories: Vocals High Energy, Vocals Low Energy, Non-Vocal High Energy and Non-Vocal Low Energy. Keep in mind, these are just suggested categories. Only you can match the artist to the mood.


Vocals High Energy

  • ABBA – Who does not love these Swedish superstars? Their peppy beats would keep anyone motivated. But be warned: their music is easily distracting.
  • Feist – Canadian singer with a sweet voice and accompanied by gentle instrumentals. Her work can also work for low-energy.
  • Fujiya & Miyagi – Electronic music with some sick, repetitive beats.
  • Geographer – Californian Indie/Pop Synth band. I personally love “Kites” and “Verona.”
  • José González – Swedish singer-songwriter with a great voice and even better skills on the guitar.
  • Junip – A band that José González is in. Similar to his solo work, but perhaps a shade chiller.
  • RJD2 – Sometimes rapping, sometimes electronic or synth music. I like “Ghostwriter” and “Good Times Roll Pt 2.”
  • Tame Impala – Psychedelic-esque rock group whose music can blend together into a wash of high-energy noise.
  • Woodkid – I cannot express how much I love Woodkid. Symphonic songs are paired with his great voice. My absolute favorites are “The Great Escape” and “Where I Live.”


Vocals Low Energy

  • Agnes Obel  – Similar to Feist, this Danish singer has a fantastic, sweet voice that pairs well with the gentle music she uses.
  • Beirut – I say this band is low energy because they pair well with tea and soft lighting. Another one of my favorite bands.
  • Glass Animals – Groovy electronic music that goes well with late night studying.
  • Iron & Wine – Generally calm, pleasing music. You cannot go wrong with them.
  • Rufus Wainwright – Rufus does not meet everyone’s studying needs, but if you like sexy vocals over great piano playing, he is your man.
  • Scala And Kolacny Brothers – This choral group sings covers of popular songs in a mesmerizing, haunting way.
  • Sigur Rós – This Icelandic group is possibly my ultimate study music band. They do not sing in English, so their voices provide comfort while ensuring you cannot be distracted by the music fully.


Non Vocals High Energy

  • E.S. Posthumus – This band does epic instrumentals. I cannot tell you how many times their song “Unstoppable” has kicked me into working again.
  • Hans Zimmer – I do not like all of his music, but if you need to write a page of your essay in five minutes, I highly recommend “Time” from the “Inception” soundtrack. There is nothing quite else like the stress that song gives you for productivity.
  • Muriel Anderson – A fingerstyle guitar player. Her songs are generally pretty peppy.
  • The Penguin Cafe Orchestra – An orchestral group with happy, energetic songs. Their version of “Music for a Found Harmonium” has great energy without inducing stress.
  • Philip Glass – Modern composer. I adore his “Glassworks” album.
  • Ratatat – Electronic synth music that is great for those late nights when you need an extra burst of energy.
  • The Vitamin String Quartet – Best known for their covers of popular songs. Keeps the familiarity of tunes you know, without the vocals to draw you in fully.


Non Vocals Low Energy

  • Balmorhea – Ambient, classical-like music that is great for general studying. I love “In the Rowans” because it is the only song I know that uses a typewriter as a percussive element.
  • Explosions in the Sky – Grand, sweeping orchestral pieces that try to tell a story. Each song can last anywhere from three to twelve minutes.
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Generally quiet soundscapes that build into a noisy cacophony (in a great way). Prepare for tracks longer than 10 minutes (“Providence” is 29 minutes). Beware; they’re not for everyone.
  • Ludovico Einaudi – A well-known Italian classical pianist.



  • “Harry Potter” soundtracks – I love listening to the “Harry Potter” soundtracks because the happy memories associated with the music sometimes bolsters my spirits for those really tough study nights.
  • Video Game Music Pandora station – Generally without vocals, video game music is meant to be repetitive and help you focus. Works great if you’re in a pinch.
  • “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack – Multiple hours worth of great soundtracks, from ambient classical music to orchestral explosions.
  • “Secret Garden” soundtrack – Ethereal music from the old movie classic.

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