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Lo-Fi Study Music – YouTube Hit Everyone Swears By
If you’ve ever caught yourself in the procrastination and poor focus cycle, you may have googled something like study music and stumbled upon the famous image of a girl bent over her books with a look of concentration on her face. If so, you’re already familiar with the lo-fi study music concept. If not, it looks something like this:
The idea behind lo-fi study music is the use of low filter (lo-fi), low tempo beats with a hypnotic and relaxing quality. In other words, lo-fi music stimulates your brain to focus better without being stressed about it. The lo-fi girl has been around for quite a while (in fact, since 1995!), but her role as a study motivator has recently gained popularity, especially during the pandemic.
Who Is the Lo-Fi Girl?
Yes, I know, 1995 sounds like a bit of a reach, but the Lo-fi Girl you know from YouTube had another musical role long before she discovered (and was discovered by) the internet. Her name is Shizuku, and she is the protagonist of the Studio Ghibli feature film from 1995, Whispers of the Heart. In this film, Shizuku is often seen studying, writing her novel, and creating the perfect Japanese cover of ‘Country Roads’ (fair warning: you’ll have earworms for days!). The movie is set in contemporary (at the time) Japan and doesn’t have much of the magical realism Ghibli is known for, but the emotional stakes are gripping!
I’m sure Shizuku wouldn’t have thought she’d be this famous, but here we are.
Due to copyright concerns, Shizuku’s original look was updated by Juan Pablo Machado, who created the loop gif that now plays in popular lo-fi live streams. Every now and then, the Lo-fi Girl gets a different haircut, clothes, or background details, but her position remains the same, as does her rapt attention.
The Benefits of Chill Lo-Fi Study Music
The Lo-fi Girl wouldn’t have amassed such a fanbase if there wasn’t anything special about the beats accompanying her. In fact, lo-fi music has proven to have several benefits that aid studying:
- It helps you relax. If you’re stressed, you’ll find it hard to remember anything. Lo-fi study music tempers its beats in a way that promotes relaxation and helps your brain release tension.
- It boosts concentration. Listening to study music has been proven to stimulate parts of the brain responsible for logical thinking, spotting patterns, and comprehending complex ideas.
- Music boosts your mood. Studying in a bad mood tends to be anything but productive, but listening to lo-fi helps you approach your tasks more light-heartedly.
- It drowns out distractions. Life is full of its own music; the problem is that some of it sounds like your neighbours drilling yet another wall in the flat next to yours. Lo-fi music (especially with headphones) removes that distraction, as it draws your attention towards the relaxing beats and your studies.
With that said, let’s equip you with some quality lo-fi study music!
Top 10: Our Best Lo-Fi Study Music
As always, it’s hard to call anything the best since it’s such a subjective adjective. Believe it or not, the original and the most popular lo-fi hip-hop playlist has been dead on YouTube for a while. It may be due to its highly ambitious attempt to have a live stream that lasts 20,843 hours – a bit of a stretch for any streaming platform.
However, there are several lo-fi sources that you cannot go wrong with:
- The Best of Lo-Fi. This is a mainly piano-based lo-fi playlist inspired by hip-hop music. There are no lyrics, and the stream operates on minimalist music principles: a musical phrase is repeated for a while before being altered slightly as the song progresses, creating a hypnotic and relaxing effect. Your protagonist is watching New Year’s fireworks with her cat here 😊.
- Late-night study sessions. This is a string of 4 one-hour compilations. They start at 1am and go on until 5 am. The initial hours are more upbeat to keep you awake and stimulate successful late-night studying, but the last one is pretty slow – even the Lo-fi Girl needs to go to bed, as should you. In general, it’s better to avoid all-nighters, as they mess up your sleep quality, but if it can’t be helped, you’ll have an online companion to commiserate with.
- Jazz/Hip-hop mix. This musical compilation features Seiji, Shizuku’s friend (and later boyfriend in the movie), studying to low-beat jazz music and the sound of rain. Listening to rain helps the mind relax, and the complex jazz melodies stimulate better cognitive performance.
- Tokyo Sunset with the Pomodoro Timer. While there’s no protagonist in this video (maybe they’re on a date), you’ll have a window showing the sunset over Tokyo as you listen to relaxing lo-fi beats. This video has a built-in Pomodoro timer, which functions by having you do intense studying for about 25 minutes before you get a 5-minute break. It’s an effective way of maintaining high productivity and attention.
- Autumn productivity session. Nothing motivates me more to prepare for a new school year than reading about Harry, Ron, and Hermione heading back to Hogwarts on Hogwarts Express on 1 September. The protagonist of this mix is a witch at the beginning of Autumn gathering her supplies. Just looking at her makes you want to get down to your books!
A few more good playlists include:
- Playlist to help you focus while working on the computer.
- Starbucks lo-fi mix. For when you’re working in a café.
- Mood-boosting study mix. This one seems to be inhabited by Chihiro, the clumsy protagonist of Spirited Away.
- Morning coffee lo-fi study music. For a good start to your day.
- A quick evening round. A shorter composition for quick and easy study sessions.
- Anime Lo-Fi Playlist. My personal favourite and perfect for every anime fan out there. You got Lo-Fi versions of classics like Naruto and Pokemon and a lot more.
You can find Lo-Fi playlist not only in Youtube or Spotify but also on Amazon Prime Music.
How to Make Your Own Lo-Fi Study Music – FL Studio Guide
In all honesty, YouTube offers so many lo-fi mixes that you never have to worry about running out of listening material or getting bored. Still, creating lo-fi music is actually pretty easy if you want to play around with new software. Since there are no lyrics, it doesn’t require too much artistic effort – all you need to know is how to find your way around the FL Studio program.
You can download the app (both on Android and iOS) or work with a desktop version. The trial is free, after which you have to buy the software. The prices range from 99 to 499 bucks, with each having more features added. If you want to make a YouTube career out of creating novel lo-fi beats, you may consider buying one of them.
Once you log in, you gain access to the big fancy mixer, as well as a series of musical samples you can use to learn what each feature of the mixer does. You can enhance selected sections, slow them down, add echoes, boost drum and bass, and tinker with sound effects like delays and loops. You have a wide array of instruments at your disposal, including piano, guitar, and synthesiser, as well as a good library of white noise samples.
Lo-Fi = Best Calming Music for Studying
Lo-fi study music is created in a way that helps the brain relax, abandon outside distractions, and retain information better. Downbeat rhythms and melodies help elevate mood and improve focus and have provided excellent company to many students saddled with exam preparations and assignments.
Lo-fi music is well-known for its protagonist – the girl studying (sometimes in the company of her cat). Waste no more time and join her in some of the best lo-fi remixes!