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 thing has to require minimal mental processing.

Of course, a lot of music is made to be played in the background of some other activity. However, 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 'vibe' or makes me feel something, whether that be a simple emotion like excitement or something more difficult to describe. I prefer intense music as it's more engaging and elicits stronger feelings. The music I listen to doesn't necessarily have to convey a specific emotion to make me feel something; often I find myself excited by interesting textures or impressive technicality. I enjoy metal and classical music because these genres are good at both communicating emotion and being technical.

I have been depressed for years (at the moment my mental state is much better than it was 2 years ago, but still sub-optimal), so I don't feel strong positive emotions often. Music helps with this. Some kinds of music can make me feel excited and motivated. Other kinds can make me feel nostalgic. Music with a strong beat and catchy riffs/hooks makes me feel energetic.

I think listening to a great song/piece for the second time feels as good as cumming and almost as good as solving a challenging puzzle. The second time, specifically, because by listening to the song once already, I've become somewhat familiar with its sound and structure. The second listen is the best because while the song 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 and short enough that I can listen to several in a row. 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.

I re-listen to albums all the time. 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. Occasionally I'll remove tracks from one or more playlists, if I've decided to add the album they're from to my collection (the playlists must not share tracks with the albums or each other).

I re-listen to albums from my collection countless times because I enjoy them, but this may lead me to realise that my opinion has changed. In this case I'll add each track I still like to one of my playlists, then remove the album from my collection.


Lyrics aren't a top priority for me when it comes to enjoying music; I focus on the sound. Much of the music I like is instrumental.

While good lyrics make a musically 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, unless they are distractingly awful.

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 merely nonsensical lyrics. The voice is also an instrument, and not being able to fully understand lyrics helps me appreciate this more as I am not distracted by the lyrics' meaning. Instead 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.