Music soothes the savage beast. But music can also soothe the soul. It can reduce your stress, your anxiety, improve your mood and help you find inner peace. Welcome to the aural realm of Lofi music.
Lo-Fi: Music that heals the souls
You sit at your desk with your hands on your forehead. The meddling light from your laptop still intrudes your vision, reminding you you can’t escape from the humdrum work and chaos surrounding you. Your heart starts beating faster. Your head starts throbbing harder. You exhale deeply and open your eyes to bring yourself back to your reality. You force yourself to get back to the task at hand, yet you continue to desperately seek some inner peace.
That’s the moment you plug in your headphones, head on to YouTube on your smartphone, and enter nirvana by playing lofi music. The slow, soothing chill beats take over your mind, body, and soul as you feel the immediate calming effects of the sound that reverberates through your entire being. You breathe deeply again, but this time to release all the stress and frustration that you’ve been holding inside. A feel a sense of calm and peace taking over you, making you feel better, happier in fact. As you lose yourself in the gentle, dreamy and relaxing tunes of lofi, you feel your brain fog finally disappearing and welcoming you to a clear mental state. You finally get back to work with better focus, clarity, motivation, and mood. As the mental and actual noise dissipates, you feel your best self has finally come forward to help you do your best work.
Thanks to lofi music for this drastic, immediate mental and emotional transformation. If you have ever listened to a lofi track, you know what I am talking about and why is lo-fi so popular these days. Today, lofi has become the go-to music for study and concentration for millions of individuals across the globe. But what exactly are lofi chill beats? Let’s dig in to understand this magical sensory experience.
What is lofi music?
Lo-fi or low fidelity music is a type of audio production. It involves elements typically considered as phonographic imperfections or environmental interference, such as tape hiss, background noises, buzzes or hums, mostly intentionally. It can be considered similar to the music generated from old-school vinyl record players. Lo-fi music is usually downtempo, mellow, hip-hop music that has certain hypnotic effects and helps us concentrate and relax.
Nowadays, lofi music, often identified as chill beats or soft music, have become a popular music genre among students and people trying to work, relax or even sleep. Numerous YouTube channels and Spotify playlists have become popular for their lofi offerings helping people relax when they are anxious or stressed.
Lo-fi embraces quality degradation even though other music genres strongly avoid it. While it may sound a bit scratchy initially, it will undoubtedly help to soothe, relax and heal you – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Lo-fi involves and combines various elements, including jazz, blues and gentle static noises, mixed with random, vague human voices or dialogues, to create a dreamy, calming effect.
The visual aesthetics of lofi music is generally associated with Japanese animations (or anime), such Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki’s art style, which further evokes feelings of contentment, happiness, dreaminess and nostalgia. This music genre became especially popular during the pandemic thanks to frequent live streams from music creators.
Benefits of lofi music
The hypnotic qualities of lo-fi music, coupled with its scratchy textures and absence of vocals have quickly become popular worldwide for a number of different reasons. While every genre of music affects its listeners differently, the mental health benefits of lofi music are undeniable and unavoidable. Here are some of the most common lofi music benefits –
1. Improves mood
It’s no secret that music can lift your mood. But relaxing, slow music like lofi beats can help to increase the levels of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your brain. Studies show that “reward anticipation during music listening increases dopamine availability in the dorsal striatum regions,” of the brain. This increase in brain chemicals can lift your mood, even when you feel tired and frustrated after a long, stressful day. Listening to your favorite lofi tracks can make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
2. Boosts brain activity
The predictable loops of lofi music make you feel nostalgic and comfortable by making you feel detached from your external environment and outside noise. This increases your brain activity by activating both brain hemispheres. According to the Attention Drainage Effect Theory, lofi chill beats remove distractions that unconsciously reduce your attention capacity. This allows your brain to purposefully and deliberately focus on selective tasks while listening to the music in the background.
According to a 2022 study, relaxing music can increase the release of neurotransmitters and hormones, activate reward and prosocial systems and change the chemistry of the brain. This can help to improve concentration and focus. “Music engages multiple cognitive functions, and promotes attention, concentration, imagination, creativity, elicits memories and emotions, and stimulates imagination, and harmony of movement,” explain the researchers.
In fact, listening to non-lyrical lofi tracks can help to recall past experiences, better cognitive processing, information retention and boost memory.
3. Reduces stress & anxiety, promotes relaxation & learning
It cannot be denied that lofi music has therapeutic, calming and relaxing effects, without even going into the science of it. The soft, repetitive and predictable music helps you create a safe and protective mental space, which is just perfect for being more productive. But why is lofi music relaxing? By reducing the release of cortisol, an anxiety and stress inducing hormone, it helps to reduce irregular heartbeat and blood pressure. The mellow, continuous rhythms of lofi beats help you to manage your stress and anxiety and make your brain to slow down, to enter a relaxed state of mind.
So is lofi good for learning?
Lofi is regarded as one of the best genres of background music that helps students to learn better, with increased concentration and lower stress. Today, lofi has become the most preferred music for study and concentration. Using chill beats to study to learn better can help young students avoid negative emotions and mental pressure that make them distracted and divert their attention. Moreover, the dopamine boost from listening to lofi tracks can empower students to overcome depression as well. If you ever wondered “why is lofi music good for studying?”, it’s because lofi beats help students create the best headspace for effective studying.
4. Promotes sleep
If you are having difficulty sleeping, then simply try listening to lofi music at bedtime and you will start experiencing the healing effects in no time. While lofi tracks may help you focus and lift your moods, it is also highly effective in helping you fall asleep. The dreamy, rhythmic beats make you feel snug, cocooned and warm as you feel protected from all the chaos of the outside world. Being in a safe mental space, you let your guards down and fall asleep faster. Listening to relaxing lofi music before sleep can improve subjective & objective sleep quality, explain scientists
5. Improves focus and productivity
As lofi music has repetitive, predictable beats, the music is just perfect for enhancing productivity as it is neither too slow nor too fast paced to make you feel bored or distracted. The soothing music accompanied by the distorted noises of water, rainfall, cars passing by or pages turning trigger certain brain regions that promote focus and productivity. The familiar ambient noises make us feel relaxed on a subconscious level and empower us to focus on what we are doing at the moment.
Apart from these, lofi tracks also help you to build a positive attitude, make you feel happier and help you avoid distracting background noise in your environment, without being distracting itself. However, you should remember that everyone has different tastes in music, so the effects of listening to lofi beats may vary based on your preferences.
History of Lo-fi music
Contrary to what most people think, and regardless of its seemingly fancy name, lofi music is not a new genre. It is based on jazz music, bass, snare drums in a boom bat rhythm, no vocals, and natural ambient sounds. All these different elements are cooked together to create the perfect soothing rhythm that stimulates your brain the right way. It has evolved greatly throughout the years and started becoming popular and recognized by the 1990s, identified as DIY music. However, earlier versions of lo-fi may not have been necessarily recognized as belonging to this specific genre of music.
It is believed that lo-fi has originated from the music of artists like J Dilla, Madlib, and MF Doom. Rapper J Dilla is mostly credited for the evolution of lo-fi music due to his unique style of developing beats. Modern day “chill beats” music is widely seen as his musical legacy.
Why Lofi is the right music for you
Do you struggle with stress and anxiety? Do you constantly try to mute intrusive thoughts, especially when trying to sleep after a long day? Are you having trouble concentrating while studying or working? Then allow the hisses, buzzes and crackles of lofi beats to release your frustrations and evoke positive emotions that you desperately need right now.
It is believed that the “flaws” present in low fidelity music can have certain beneficial neurophysiological effects on our brain. It enables the front lobe of the brain to boost concentration and enhance brain activity. Although many experts believe that the monotonous, bland and mellow attributes of lofi music is “apathetic” and helps only in doing mundane tasks, most listeners experience a rise in productivity when listening to lofi.
The truth is, the addictive and trance inducing nature of lofi is just right to make us feel focused and relaxed. It’s not too slow to make you feel sleepy, nor too loud to invoke your anxiety. It provides your brain just the right amount of stimulation that helps you stay focused and productive, without feeling stressed or bored.
Millions of listeners listen to lofi tracks on an endless loop as it allows us to relax without distracting us from the task at hand. As your brain can subconsciously anticipate how the music is going to flow, there is less anxiety about being taken by surprise. This allows your brain to focus on your work without getting distracted by the sound.
Studies show that listening to soft music, like lofi, can help to –
- Induce multiple cognitive processes in the brain
- Influence stress-related cognitive processes
- Influence physiological responses
- Reduce perceived levels of psychological stress
- Increase coping abilities
- Increase levels of perceived relaxation in a stressful situation
“Music listening has been suggested to beneficially impact health via stress-reducing effects,” add the researchers. Researchers suggest that music is a rich source of health and well-being, regardless of your age, environment or background.
Tune in to lofi
Lofi music has become highly popular nowadays and the image of the girl studying in her room with her cat has become iconic on the internet. And for good reason. Lofi beats are not just dreamy and soothing to listen to, but it offers actual mental health benefits that help you live better and happier.
The truth is, lofi music has become a movement of its own. The soft, predictable and soothing sounds of lofi music helps you detach from the noises of your chaotic environment, and helps you get more done. Lofi helps you to create a comfortable, safe and relaxing space in your mind, where you can be calm and relaxed, yet focused and productive.
So tune into lofi beats and tune out of all the chaos in the outside world.