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When I was asked to come up with a list of pieces to help people focus at work or during their admin tasks, I felt so much imposter syndrome! I have to confess that, as a passionate musician, I cannot hear a melody in the background and focus on whatever tasks I am doing.

While writing these words, I am actively not listening to any of those pieces of music on the playlist that I've curated. My mind would go straight away into humming the melody along, enjoying the phrasing of the artist or maybe even identifying a chord in the harmony… However, I did a selection of some of my favourite pieces that I believe people would enjoy in the background of their daily tasks.

All these pieces have 3 things in common: an endless melody, a gorgeous harmony, and a slow tempo.

Nico Fleury's Music to Focus

Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte:
This piece starts with a gorgeous horn solo line which I, of course, love! That first melody comes back at the end of the piece - I believe it’s impossible to not shiver when this happens… a wonderful piece to have on the background.

Ravel piano concerto in G:

Ravel again (I believe my dear colleague, Rohan de Korte, also put this piece in his playlist about sleep…) - our Principal Bassoon, Jack Schiller, has also mentioned in an interview that this movement of the concerto is probably one his favourite pieces ever. It’s fair to say that all musicians unanimously love that music. It's such a fragile beauty. No words can explain the feeling I go through while listening to this music. We performed it at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl last year and it was amazing to see the silence and concentration from the audience in this outdoor venue while we played that movement. It just draws you in!

Bruckner “Os justi”/ “Miserere” Allegri

This motet by Bruckner brings me back to my high school and university years. It would be on my CD player all the time on repeat! I could listen to the slow, gorgeous harmony for a choir a cappella for hours and it did help me to be productive at certain assignments. Here is a version by a wonderful group of singers based in London called Voces8. I also put in another choir piece which is just incredible, Miserere by Allegri. Composed around 1638, this piece was for a while allowed to be performed only at particular services at the Sistine Chapel! I love that feeling of hearing "history".

I hope these pieces can help you relax and focus on your tasks, happy listening!

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