I listen to music on most days, often for several hours. I don't like treating music as background noise. Many people listen to music while they work; I have tried it, but I find it difficult to not focus on the music. If I'm listening to music while doing something else, that other activity has to require minimal mental processing.

I find a lot of intended background music engaging enough to be listened to on its own. I'm quite fond of video game soundtracks. I often find myself enjoying soundtracks of games I've never played.

One reason why I like soundtracks is because they create a distinctive atmosphere; I like music that conveys a mood or ambience. Some music can make me excited, energetic and motivated. Other music can make me nostalgic. To make me feel something, the music I listen to doesn't necessarily have to convey a specific emotion, as I also find interesting sonic textures and details exciting.

I think listening to a great track for the second time is one of the best feelings, almost as good as solving a challenging puzzle. By listening to the track once already, I've become somewhat familiar with its sound and structure. The second listen is the best because while the track is still fresh, the experience is enhanced by me anticipating all the best parts I discovered on the first listen.

Albums & Playlists

I prefer listening to albums over playlists, because they're a cohesive experience. However, there are some tracks I like that are a) not from an album, b) from an album I haven't listened to, or c) from an album I listened to and didn't enjoy as a whole. I put these in playlists.

When I listen to an album, I have to like a sufficiently high proportion of the tracks to add it to my album collection. If I don't like enough of the tracks, I'll add each track I did like to one of my playlists.

If an album I didn't add to my collection after the first listen was interesting enough, I'll listen to it again to re-assess my opinion. I try not to listen to albums more than 3 times when deciding whether I like them, because I want my opinion to be uninfluenced by the mere exposure effect.

I make sure that my playlists don't share tracks with each other or with albums I've collected. If I've decided to collect the album they're from, I'll remove tracks from the playlists. If I find that I no longer like an album in my collection, I'll add each track I still like to one of my playlists, then remove the album.


Lyrics aren't too important for me; I focus on sound. Much of the music I like is instrumental.

While good lyrics make a sonically engaging song even better (especially if they resonate with me), they can't make me like a song that I think sounds bad or uninteresting. Subpar lyrics make a bad-sounding song worse, but can't bring down a good-sounding song too much.

I listen to a lot of music in foreign languages, music with vocals that have been manipulated to be largely incomprehensible, and songs with cryptic or nonsensical lyrics. Not being able to fully understand the lyrics helps me appreciate that the voice is also an instrument, as I can focus on the vocal melodies and the mood/tone of the singing. (I'm not particularly good at deciphering lyrics even in English; I mishear a lot of things.)

Sometimes, in the case of foreign-language songs, I am curious about the meaning of the lyrics, so I'll read them alongside a translation. If the language of the song uses a different alphabet to English, I may look at a romanisation of the lyrics so I can better understand how the words sound. I find it more satisfying to analyse foreign-language lyrics than English ones, because the way the words are put together is unfamiliar to me and being able to understand wordplay, rhyme, meter etc. feels like cracking a code.