If you are someone who likes to listen to music while they work, then exam periods are just as much of a time for musical exploration as they are for revision. Although we cannot promise to completely lighten the load of exam stress, we do hope that this playlist will at least momentarily soothe your mind in this busy time of the year. We hope that you enjoy our selection of songs and we wish everyone the best of luck with your exams this term!

“Spartacus Love Theme” by SOIL & “PIMP” SESSIONS

Daniel Hilton, Section Editor

In my revision I find hypnotic music helps me most, and I hope this is echoed in my submissions to the playlist. However, sometimes I need a hit of fast and lively music to keep me focused and kick me out of mindlessly reading the same paragraph five times over. To show this, I chose Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ version of “Spartacus Love Theme”, a Jazz standard popularised by Yusef Lateef and Bill Evans. Where previous versions are typically introspective and emotional, the Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ version turns the standard into an energetic jam that starts off mirroring the Bill Evans-esque introspection before moving to a funky atmosphere carried by the drums. The climax of this piece however is pure organised chaos with multiple instruments soloing at once, providing a masterful cascade of semi-quavers that could wake even Hypnos (or at least make him go back to his revision).

“Cours Camarade” by Alex Beaupain

Sianna King, Columnist

Given that I study MML, perhaps it’s a predictable move, but I’ve always found that study playlists in foreign languages are the best way to go, regardless of whether you’re a languages student or not. If the track is in a language you don’t speak, you’ll avoid the trap of getting distracted listening to the lyrics instead of concentrating and you’ll instead find you’re more productive than ever, and if it’s in a language you do speak, well, that’s just an extra perk: you can call it a day and decide that listening to music will be your revision from now on. Jokes aside, Alex Beaupain’s “Cours Camarade” is a solid but underrated track, the perfect addition to your study playlist for its mid-tempo, melancholic feel, and repetitive beat, which also serves as a great way to get interested in some French music for (perhaps) the first time.

Alex Beaupain's official music video for “Cours Camarade”Youtube / Alex Beaupain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3qLGuzmngw)

“Prologue” by Ichiko Aoba & “9 Fantasia a 4: IX. Fantazia in A Minor, Z. 740” by Henry Purcell

Seth Collin, Columnist

Ichiko Aoba is a rising musical star in Japan and around the world, and her most recent album Windswept Adan doesn’t disappoint. A concept album that tells a story of fantasy and science fiction, it is brimming with eclectic influences ranging from jazz and folk to classical. “Prologue, with its soft vocals, warm synths, and rolling sounds of the sea is the perfect soundtrack to ease you into a state of deep focus.

Purcell wrote nine fantasias for his viol consort, and this one was written for four musicians. In the key of A minor, it is a perfect example of Purcell’s unique harmonic idiom and expressive use of dissonance, cycling through many different keys always with unexpected turns. A serene slow section contrasts with a livelier contrapuntal exploration, but throughout the music the sinewy, sustained sound produced by the Rose consort of Viols makes for a reflective mood conducive to concentration.

“Its groovy smoothness induces a calm atmosphere, making it easy to focus on the task at hand”

“H.S.K.T.” by Lee Hi featuring Wonstein

Josephine Olayebo, Section Editor

Lee Hi’s beautifully alluring track off her last album: 4 ONLY is titled as an acronym for “head, shoulders, knees and toes”. This smooth song explores the selfish, yet seductive, desire for attention during the flirtatious stage of a budding relationship. Corresponding with this theme of enticement, Lee Hi’s distinct, unique voice is sultry and inviting: charming listeners with its appeal both musically and lyrically by compelling us to focus on her alone. Wonstein’s feature on this track is an excellent subversion of the conventional paradigms for a male-female duet. His high, ever-so slightly course, tone wonderfully contrasts with Lee Hi’s deep, velvety voice. This song has been a personal favourite of mine to work to. The groovy smoothness induces a calm atmosphere, making it easy to focus on the task at hand while it’s catchy, repetitive aspects spark just enough motivation to remain productive.

Lee Hi's official music video for "H.S.K.T."Youtube / AOMGOFFICIAL (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww9hZfgC2d8)

“The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin & “Red House” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Daniel Starkey, Columnist

“The Rain Song” is an epic track from Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy, which blends elements of progressive rock and folk rock to create a deeply atmospheric, serene seven minutes of listening. Subtly mixing both electric 12-string and acoustic 6-string guitar tracks gives it a wonderful range, while its orchestral backing track is highly melodic. Its lyrics inspired by the seasons further add to its serenity. Listening to it, I can imagine that I’m somewhere in nature, perhaps by a peaceful lakeside, without a worry in the world. A great song to relax the senses in the midst of stressful study sessions.

The track “Red House”, from the original (UK) edition of the band’s 1967 debut album, Are You Experienced, is a brilliant example of the electric blues genre in its latter days, just as it was morphing into mainstream blues and psychedelic rock. With its steady rhythm, the smoothest of bass lines and Jimi Hendrix’s unmistakeable vocals, it is a thoroughly relaxing, satisfying song to listen to. Despite its multiple guitar solos employing heavy distortion, it remains remarkably chilled throughout, never reaching excessive intensity. A great track for helping set a calm atmosphere: one to have on in the background while you get through work.


Mountain View

‘Norf Face’: Profiling music in north London

“Screen Shot” by Swans

Jacob Tucker, Section Editor

“Screen Shot” starts with a simple, menacing bassline that circles back around into itself. The coda of this bassline is a variation that feeds back into the beginning, but, once this point is reached, a guitar is added to the mix, playing the same notes an octave higher. Further variation is added as hi-hats start tapping along to the same rhythm. Then, a heartbeat round of snare drums joins this emerging, seemingly organic, piece. A cowbell is added next, maintaining a simple rhythm, and allowing the previously-established instruments to embark on variations without sacrificing the structure of the song. Vocal passages are only added after the first 93 seconds, and, when they are added, they prove to be just as mesmerising as the other components, all creeping along to the same eerie beat for some unknown purpose. This is why the track is perfect for studying: it lulls you in, allowing you to start working without any overt distraction as it builds up. The increasing complexity and intensity emerges gradually and therefore does not prove itself to be a distraction. Rather, it serves as a drum: an elaborately-unfolding rhythm to work to.