Casual Cadenza: Drawing productivity from film scores

Thus, I’ve spent my Easter weekend in a productive mood rather than the celebratory one ironically encouraged by my professors. Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

Given that I’m writing this on Easter, I was hoping to recommend a convoluted playlist somehow related to pastel colors, abnormally large bunnies and candy-filled eggs. Unfortunately, there are no songs I know of that pertain to those themes (as confirmed by a 20-second keyword search on Spotify). The least I can do is acknowledge it is Easter and compared to last year’s holiday, things seem to be slightly better. With vaccinations being rolled out, the chances of seeing friends again drawing closer and the end of the semester approaching quicker than anticipated, I can finally admit to seeing some sort of light at the end of a very long tunnel. 

And yet, the tunnel continues! Five essays have been specially reserved for the remaining month, while three of them happen to be due the day before spring break. I like to call these my “academic challenge weeks,” when my habit of putting off big assignments backfires and requires me to work incessantly until the last minute. There were a lot of those moments this semester, and now I’m bracing myself for another one. 

Thus, I’ve spent my Easter weekend in a productive mood rather than the celebratory one ironically encouraged by my professors. If there was anything that got me through Saturday when I was writing about how Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would evaluate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political policies, it was listening to the ambient mixes saved on my SoundCloud. 

Finding the right studying music can often be an arduous task. In the past, I’ve usually catered toward simple lo-fi beats or instrumentals, whereas other times I would just play my movie playlist on shuffle. As it turns out, film soundtracks create the best productive environment. Syneptic VIP on SoundCloud has a bunch of soundtrack mixes from various movie franchises — including “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” — all of which I experienced while working on my essay. 

It’s difficult to describe each piece as they happen to be an hour long, but as a collective assortment, they all contain the perfect balance of being not too bland to bore and not too bold to distract. I think the most distracted I got was during the “Star Wars” mix, mostly because I had hit the two-hour benchmark and forgot how good the score was. John Williams tends to have that effect on people, I guess. 

My appreciation for Hans Zimmer also ended up resurging after delving into “Pirates of the Caribbean,” which I consider his third best work after “Interstellar” and “Inception.” In my humble opinion, “One Day” is objectively the prettiest piece of music ever made. Despite being prepared to physically fight anyone who says otherwise, I’m open to dedicating another column to prove my theory as well.  

There is a large possibility that my enjoyment of calming fantasy music stems from longing for fictional universes and the subconscious denial of college and corona-filled reality. On the bright side, having that sliver of optimism is enough to provide much-needed motivation for the next couple weeks — especially since optimism is hard to come by recently. Now that my Easter plans have remained uneventful, maybe I’ll incentivize myself by purchasing some discounted candy later. Munching on some bunny-shaped Peeps may not lessen the workload, but it’ll definitely be a positive reminder of better times ahead. 

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