The Most Relaxing Music In The World

by | January 28, 2014 | General | 12 comments

For the last two
months of 2013, I was seriously depressed. I have bipolar disorder, which I’ve
talked about on this blog before, and my doctor tried a new medication on me.
It didn’t work. I sank into a pit of despair I hadn’t been in in many years. In
fact, I had forgotten how horrible I used to feel. When it was unbearable but I
had enough composure to ask for help, I called my doctor. I’m now back on my
old medication, just a slightly higher dosage. I’m fine now. I don’t ever want
to go through that again. That nightmare has long been over.

One thing I did
while in the pits was self-medicate through music. I listened to a nature
sounds radio station, an alternative therapy station that played New Age and
ambient music you’d hear in reiki healing, massage sessions, and holistic
health spas. I also listened to trance music in the afternoons as a way to pick
myself up. This music was very soothing. I even played it in the bedroom so I
could listen to it while I slept, and it helped me to sleep well. As an
afterthought, I’ve considered buying some French and Italian language CDs to
play while I sleep so I may learn Italian and brush up on my French.  I used to do that in college with cassette
tapes and it works.

So imagine how
intrigued I was to learn that a study
determined which songs are the most relaxing tunes ever composed
. Granted,
this study was conducted by a bubble bath and shower gel firm and the sample
size was tiny (40 women), but it’s still fascinating. The song deemed the most
relaxing tune ever made was “Weightless” by Marconi Union. The study
determined this song is so relaxing you shouldn’t listen to it while driving
because it could make you drowsy! Here is “Weightless”:

All ten songs in
order of relaxation are:

1. Marconi Union –

2. Airstream –

3. DJ Shah –
Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)

4. Enya –

5. Coldplay –
Strawberry Swing

6. Barcelona – Please
Don’t Go

7. All Saints –
Pure Shores

8. Adele – Someone
Like You

9. Mozart –
Canzonetta Sull’aria

10. Cafe Del Mar –
We Can Fly

[Go to the link
above to listen to all ten songs.]

I listened to
“Weightless” and I didn’t find it to be all that relaxing. I
certainly didn’t get drowsy. The ones that seemed to work with my natural
rhythm were Enya’s “Watermark”, Airstream’s “Electra”, and
Adele’s “Someone Like You”. I’ve always enjoyed Enya, anyway, so
“Watermark” came as no surprise.

This got me to thinking
about listening to music when reading, editing, doing research, or writing. I
like to listen to music when working and reading. Not everyone does. I know
plenty of writers who must work in dead silence, otherwise they can’t
concentrate. They find music to be much too distracting. Other writers don’t
mind lots of noise including wailing kids underfood, the TV blaring, the radio
playing, game sound effects when the kids (or the husband) are playing World Of
Warcraft. Some require all that chaos. Then there are the writers who prefer
white noise playing softly in the background without anything else going on
around them.

I like to listen
to nature sounds and New Age/ambient music in the morning when I write, and
trance music in the afternoon when I edit, do research, or work on particular
types of scenes. Sometimes I listen to classical or Baroque music. For me, the
type of scene or book I’m working on determine the music I listen to. When I
was in that black pit of despair last year I couldn’t write at all, but music I
found relaxing helped me maintain my sanity. I often listen to the same music
in the morning to get in a very relaxed mood so I may properly write romantic
and sexy scenes. I can’t be agitated and write erotic romance. I save the
agitation for horror and dark fiction. 🙂

Here are some examples of music or ambient sounds I listen to that either inspire my erotic writing or put me in a safe and comfortable place where I may write at all.
First up, thunderstorms. I can listen to this all day and night and my heart rate will never go about 65. LOL

The same applies to the sound of ocean waves crashing. Plus these two videos run for ten hours! I live near the ocean so I don’t have to listen to waves crashing on my computer. I can jump in my car, take a ten minute drive to the beach, and listen to the real thing. It’s very soothing and inspiring. The only thing missing in this video is seagulls calling.

To me, Biosphere’s “Substrata” is the most relaxing and beautiful ambient music ever recorded. “Substrata” consistently makes the top of “best of” ambient music lists. It’s worth a listen.

This is my favorite song from “Substrata”. Eerie. The voiceover is from “Twin Peaks”.

I recently discovered “Duet” when I watched the movie “Stoker”. Philip Glass’s minimalism can be inspiring if his music is the sort of thing you get into.

Another song I discovered from a movie. The entire soundtrack to “Half Light” is beautiful, the love theme in particular. Plus the movie is quite good.

When I write erotic scenes, I often play “Principles of Lust” in the background. It suits the mood.

I found the study about the most relaxing music to be very interesting if flawed. Some writers love sound whilst others can’t bear it because it ruins their concentration. Do you listen to music when you write? How about when you read, edit, or research? If you do listen, what are your favorite songs and types of music or ambient sounds?

Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. Kathleen Bradean

    It's funny how irritating I found that "most relaxing piece of music." I wanted to crawl out of m skin after a couple minutes of listening. I guess everyone has a different take on what would relax them.

  2. Fiona McGier

    I can't listen to any music while I write–it tends to block the voices in my head that I'm listening to for my inspiration. But when I exercise, I want there to be music with a steady beat to keep me moving, since I've always loved to dance. And in my car and the grocery store I'm a heavy-metal or blues kind of gal, dancing around with my I-Pod playing music for my head.

    My husband has a lot of CDs he likes to relax to, mostly Native American music, some with flutes, like Carlos Nakai. When I'm relaxing I want a good book and some total quiet in which to absorb the author's words.

  3. Fiona McGier

    You have my sympathy for what you have to go through to feel what the rest of us regard as "normal". I have a cousin who will call me when he's having a bad time, so I can talk to him about anything to take his mind off of his own thoughts. He says it helps. Meds can help too, but it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right combination. You're a strong woman.

  4. Korhomme

    I've been where you were, RG: and I know how I felt, even if I (obviously) can't know how you felt.

    I tried listening to the relaxing choices; they didn't appeal to me, sorry.

    I didn't listen to music when I was down, but should I find myself there in future, I think I'd prefer things that make me realise that no matter how bad I feel, there is always the hope of improvement; for others have been there (or somewhere similar) and survived and flourished.

    So, my choices would include:

    Findlandia (and the Finlandia hymn) by Sibelius

    The chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco

    Unsurprisingly, both of these were banned by "the authorities". Even someone as musically illiterate as I am can see why. And:

    Amazing Grace. Even if you are an atheist, you cannot but be moved by this.

    I'm sure there are more: but the message to me must be, that even if I'm in the gutter looking up at the stars, there is still hope.

    • Rob Camp

      Perhaps I should add. wrt today's news, "We shall overcome" but then I'd remember "When will they ever learn" and think that they won't, ever.

  5. Elizabeth Black

    Kathleen, that "relaxing" piece of music struck me the same way. Not all that relaxing. Some of the other songs on the list grated on my nerves. Everyone's different. What relaxes one person makes another one want to drive thumb screws through her eyes.

  6. Elizabeth Black

    Fiona, I met lots of people who can't write with music. Drowns out the voices. They also want to keep tapping to the music and listen to the words (if there are any) and that's distracting.

  7. Elizabeth Black

    Thanks, Fiona. 😉 It's rough sometimes but I have my husband, son, and a few very close friends to help me when I need it. That alone is relaxing.

  8. Elizabeth Black

    Interesting you chose "Amazing Grace", Korhomme. Another song I forgot about which you just reminded me of is "Hallelujah". Simply beautiful.

  9. Elizabeth Black

    Good points, Rob! I totally agree with you.

  10. Rob Camp

    Another couple: Rachmaninov's first piano concerto was badly received, be became very depressed. His mentor/therapist/shrink, Dr Dahl, encouraged him to write another, to try again. His second piano concerto was hailed as a masterpiece; it's dedicated to Dr Dahl.

    Brahms' Academic Festival Overture is quite different. Written as a sort of thank you for an honorary degree, it's full of student drinking songs; the stuffy academics were horrified.

  11. Lisabet Sarai

    Hello, Elizabeth,

    Sorry to drop by so late. I'm so glad you've crawled out of the hole. I had a roommate who was bipolar once, and not good about taking her meds. It was terrible to watch.

    I'm one of those who can't write to music. In fact, almost every bit of music I really enjoy makes me want to dance.

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