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Why You Should Give Ambient Movie Soundtracks a Listen

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GCU chapter.

In a culture obsessed with visual and auditory storytelling, the ambient music of movies and TV shows is often forgotten. You only notice a movie soundtrack if it sounds out of place. Usually a thankless task, composers dedicate their lives to writing music for movies and TV shows. Compared to pop music, their work remains relatively unknown. But there are scientific reasons why you should listen to ambient movie soundtracks and how they could improve your homework and sleep schedules.

What is ambient music?

Ambient music is gentle, largely electronic instrumental music that creates an atmosphere, typically in hour-long collections. Ambient movie music is very similar, except the music used comes from the movie or TV show. It will normally be the lower-energy, calming songs from the movie that are included in an ambient track. These tracks can also include normal sounds over the soundtrack like rain falling or wind whistling.

Now that we know what ambient movie soundtracks are, why should you listen to them?

Listening Reduces stress and anxiety

Music is generally known to lessen stress, but ambient music has an even more apparent effect. Studies show that listening to ambient music lessens the cortisol (the stress hormone) in your brain, allowing it to relax. Ambient music also results in a quicker bodily recovery from stress; your nervous system is better equipped to process and eliminate physical stress after listening to ambient music.

Listening Improves focus

Homework can be mentally taxing and draining on both the mind and body, but ambient movie soundtracks work against that draining by stimulating neural pathways. Music activates and connects the left and right parts of the brain, keeping the entirety of the brain engaged so it does not lose energy as quickly when performing cognitive tasks. Studies show that instrumental music is the only genre that shows clear cognitive improvements when utilized since music with lyrics can be more distracting. Ambient movie music keeps all parts of the brain engaged during homework sessions, improving overall focus and productivity.

soundtracks are simple and Familiar

Ambient movie soundtracks are repetitive and familiar. This allows the brain to multitask since the music has been previously introduced. In a busy world that emphasizes the newest innovations in music, listening for a prolonged period to a simple, repetitive ambient soundtrack offers relief from a bombastic music industry. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and music from childhood movies is no exception. Studies show that nostalgic music can instill a sense of youthfulness and memory and enhance social connectedness by reminding the listener how they are connected to their past and those who share similar past experiences.

Where should I start?

Now that you have been convinced to try out a movie soundtrack, how do you decide what to listen to? The first place to start is your favorite movies. You would be surprised how many of your favorite movies have amazing soundtracks behind them. You can search “[favorite movie] ambient soundtrack” on YouTube, and there will be numerous soundtrack videos to choose from. Think of your favorite TV shows and video games. You can even search generic ideas, like “ambient soundtrack rain falling outside coffee shop.” There are YouTube channels entirely dedicated to ambient soundtracks, like Ambient Worlds.

If you are still struggling with first decisions, here is a list of some of the most popular ambient movie soundtrack options:

  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Interstellar

If you like these, you can check out some other movie soundtracks that these famous composers have created:

  • Hans Zimmer
  • John Williams
  • John Powell
  • Howard Shore

You are now fully prepared to immerse yourself in the world of ambient movie soundtracks! Choose the world you want to enter, and get some homework done as you transport yourself far away!

Leah is a junior at Grand Canyon University, studying pre-law with minors in professional writing and worship. She loves to read, write, and travel to different cities to experience all types of culture. She can often be found listening to movie soundtracks with a good book at a local coffee shop.