Report Claims Black Metal and High on Fire are Great for Computer Coding Productivity


Stack Overflow recently conducted a survey of 90,000 software developers, and the results are of some interest to our little corner of the world: 3.2% of the voluntary participants said they put on some form of metal as their go-to working music. Take a look at the data visualization, which metal sub-genres appearing in the bottom left corner:

Report Claims Black Metal and High on Fire are Great for Computer Coding Productivity

If 3.2% seems low to you, well, yeah, me too, but it’s a stark reminder of how niche the metal world truly is. And even so, with 26 million software developers worldwide, that’s a significant number of folks.

Using the survey results as a springboard, Atlassian writer Sarah Goff-Dupont decided to dive into the data along with some anecdotal evidence from her metalhead coder friend Rob. Is metal good for programming productivity? Why or why not?

What it comes down to, Rob surmises, is that clean-sung vocals are too distracting. The screamed vocals of death metal and black metal are processed by the brain as sounds instead of words, making both genres perfect for coding productivity. Speaking on black metal in particular, which he prefers over death metal when working through those ones and zeroes, he explains:

“If I know I’m going to be at a task for a long time, I’ll put black metal on. Especially if it’s something I’m a bit sad about doing. Like documentation. Black metal is emotionally evocative in a way that death metal isn’t. There are times when you’re coding and you sort of need that emotional awareness. Take writing tests, for example. You’re not only making sure your code works, you’re also leaving a trail for the next person. If you do it well, they’ll be able to come in cold and understand your code right away.

“I also put black metal on when I’m preparing for a meeting where I’ll need to do a lot of talking. Connecting with people is part of the deal if you want them to listen, and you have to be emotionally available in order to make that happen.”

As for doom metal, it doesn’t do the trick, he says:

“Don’t get me wrong. I love doom metal. But the vocals are pretty clean, and it’s usually based on a pentatonic scale like blues which makes it really melodic. It’s also slower with a lot more space between the notes because they tend to play behind the beat. So it’s easy to get distracted by it.”

“Except for High On Fire. They’re super high-energy with just insane riffs. The energy trumps everything. I can listen to that while I’m coding.”

So there you have it: black metal and High on Fire are great for coding. Wonder where Pig Destroyer fall on the spectrum?

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