Students study in different ways, and the way they do might depend on whatever subject they’re immersed in. While some students require absolute silence to hone in on their notes and textbook readings, the rest of us need some background music or white noise.
A research study conducted on the correlation between background music and concentration levels revealed that listening to music didn’t have a stark impact on performance, but those who did had higher levels of attentiveness. On the other hand, Dr. Masha Godkin, professor at Northcentral University in Minnesota, said, “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.”
Music is oftentimes said to be beneficial when memorizing concepts and definitions, doing hands-on work with art, coding or other activities and when taking breaks. Whether a person listens to study music or not simply depends on the individual and how they find it best to learn. Choosing music to listen to, however, is a whole new battle.
Some students can memorize coursework listening to the soothing sounds of classical music and others might listen to music that could be heard at a rave. For those looking for an in-between of upbeat tunes and soothing sounds, chillstep is a step in the right direction.
Dubstep, whose creation origin dates back to 1998 in London, has roots in reggae, grime and broken beat and draws upon an extensive lineage to acquire its distinct features and sounds. The genre is notable for its assorted frequencies, fluctuating sound pitches and infamous bass drop.
Extending from an already diverse-sounding genre, chillstep acts as a milder, ambient sub-genre of dub, which makes it ideal for studying and generating productivity. Strapped with chill undertones and slower beats — while still interwoven with dubstep’s influences and other sub-genres — chillstep takes classic instrumental and gives it an ethereal twist.
YouTube is full of chillstep music compilations ranging between one and four hours long, and nearly all of them make ideal studying and gaming playlists. MixHound Livestream on YouTube offers a 24/7 livestream of over 400 chillstep tracks accompanied by artwork from Angel Ganev. Pandora’s Chillstep Radio station provides another way to dip into these chill electronic tunes.
Livestream, YouTube videos and Pandora stations aren’t for everyone, especially those whose patience runs short during advertisements. The following six tracks are more well-known among the genre and act as a “starter playlist” for getting into chillstep:
1. “I’d Love to Change the World” by Jetta
Jetta John-Hartley’s cover of “I’d Love to Change the World,” originally released by Ten Year After in 1971, is a soulful tribute to the underrated classic rock track. The politically-driven lyrics mesh with Jetta’s electronic, indie pop flare to create a heavier, dynamic piece. The lyrics touch upon world issues, including overpopulation, the widening pay gap and society’s inability to accept those who don’t follow the norm, and express desperation in trying to solve these global disparities.
Other notable tracks: “Take It Easy,” “Feels Like Coming Home” and “Hangin’”
2. “It’s Only” by ODESZA
“It’s Only,” released in 2016 by American electronic band ODESZA, is a darker track lyrically touched with indifference and strewn with soothing electronic beats and instrumental accents that lighten the tone of the song. The lyrics, sung by a female vocalist, approach the topic of death apathetically and suggest resentment toward an individual she once loved. Having detached lyrics creates a contrast to the light, soft instrumentals that build and overlap with underlying bass throughout the song.
Other notable tracks: “Bloom,” “Loyal” and “Say My Name” (feat. Zyra)
3. “Crave You” (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix) by Flight Facilities
The electronic pop hit “Crave You” was released as Flight Facilities’ first studio album’s first single in 2010. “Crave You” leans more towards dubstep with heavier drops, but softer female vocals and instrumentals place the song within a loop that switches between a heavier and lighter tone and creates a captivating sound. The relatable lyrics detail how the protagonist is continually longing for an oblivious man’s attention, which ties into the song’s fluctuating sound.
Other notable tracks: “All Your Love” (feat. Dustin Tebbutt), “Clair de Lune” and “Stand Still”
4. “Devil Eyes” by Hippie Sabotage
As a chillstep track that’s truly chill to the core, Hippie Sabotage’s classic “Devil’s Eyes” lyrically plays with the wonders of falling in love. This laid back electronic song mixes sporadic snare with consistent strumming to apply a combination of high and medium sounds. In tandem with the instrumentals, the track has a solid hook, and the low male vocals tie into the catchy tune flawlessly.
Other notable tracks: “Devil Eyes,” “Trust Nobody” and “Righteous”
5. “Intro” by The xx
Released in 2009, “Intro” opens as the first song in indie pop group The xx’s debut album, “xx.” The composition is simply derived from “fuzzy keyboard, a simple guitar riff, wordless chanting,” according to AV Club’s Vadim Rizov. The lyricless track includes light male and female humming to accent and move with the instrumentals, which transforms this piece into a work that’s so brilliantly minimalist and seamless.
Other notable tracks: “Islands,” “Angels” and “VCR”
6. “Eyes on Fire” (Zeds Dead Remix) by Blue Foundation
The Zeds Dead Remix version of “Eyes on Fire” has earned Blue Foundation the most recognition with over 144 million views on YouTube. Released in 2009, “Eyes on Fire” was featured in the “Twilight” saga’s first movie. The female vocals give the track an ethereal sound that complements, and at times, contrasts the lower dubstep influences. The lyrics encase notions and feelings of strength and resilience which tie into the song’s hook.
Other notable tracks: “Bonfires,” “Watch You Sleeping” and “Ghost”