🎶 LoFi Study Music
Low Fidelity (LoFi) music is a type of recording that contains technical flaws such as distortion, hum, background noise, or limited frequency response.
LoFi and Chill-Hop Music have become increasingly popular for study and for work to help improve focus, reduce anxiety and block out any background distraction.
The Science (and Emotion) of LoFi and Chill Hop Music
LoFi music is mid-tempo, melodic and often samples ambient sound giving your brain just enough stimulation to tune out stress, reduce anxiety and be productive. LoFi music is characterised by lack of vocals and a repeatable, predictable beat that evokes a calming emotional response which relaxes the listener. The tempo of lofi chill hop tracks is usually relatively slow, between 70 and 85 BPM. In terms of instrumentation, its sound tends to favour acoustic or electroacoustic instruments. A review of the wider focus music genre by writer Tim Seppala in Engadget suggests that good focus music possesses the following qualities:
- no vocals
- no strong melodies
- a “dark” spectrum
- dense texture
- minimal salient events
- heavy spatialization (the sense that music is coming from all directions, wrapping you in it)
- sub-30-200 and above 10-20 Hz modulation
The article later analyses ChilledCow/LoFi Girl's music and concludes that while many of the tracks possess some of these qualities the overall tempo and emotional aspect of the music likely apply the main calming effect. The emotional connection listeners make which evokes a nostalgia combined with the repetitive, soft, anime visuals likely factors into its effect as suggested by a research paper in the Journal of The International Association for the Study of Popular Music.
Chilled Cow/LoFi Girl originally used the studying scene from Studio Ghibli's 1995 anime movie Whisper of the Heart before switching from lead character Shizuku Tsukishima to Cilled Cow's own LoFi Girl due to copyright issues.
The Science of Music and Ambient Noise For Study
Music has long been the subject of study to ascertain whether it is helpful or a distraction for work and study. In 1972, a study published in Applied Ergonomics suggested that people doing repetitive tasks worked more efficiently when background music was played. In 1994, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that surgeon accuracy and efficiency improved when surgeons worked with music playing.
Research in 2015 from the The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America found that using natural sounds like a flowing stream was an effective way to improve employees’ productivity and moods in the workplace. One small experiment (n=40) found lower stress levels among those who listened to nature sounds compared to silence and even classical music. If reducing stress improves productivity (a topic for another day), then listening to nature sounds could help boost your workrate.
Lo-Fi In Study and Shiken
We looked at the power of mindfulness and relaxation to reduce anxiety and help retain information in a previous post. Our thoughts on Lofi, Chill Hop and acoustoelectric music is that it helps us to stay calm and centered while performing tasks that might be stressful or elicit anxiety such as studying.
At Shiken our mindful biomes allow for mixing of ambient nature sounds with mindful music or guided meditations so that you can take a break and remain calm while studying. Our YouTube channel also contains playlists of our favourite LoFi and Chill Hop study tracks for you to enjoy while studying, working or preparing to sleep.