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Scores for Studying: TV & Videogame Soundtracks for Your Next Study Session

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 JMU chapter.

If you’re like me, you probably prefer to study with music playing in the background. However, listening to music with words can be distracting since the music is competing with your attention, drawing focus from actually studying. Finding a good album to put on though can be tricky, so I’ve compiled a list of soundtracks I use while studying, hopefully eliminating the headache of choosing your background music.

TV Scores

Music is so integrated into every aspect of our lives, making it difficult to distinguish the soundtracks that are artfully woven into some of the most integral TV scenes. These soundtracks work beautifully as study assistants, telling stories without words and blending seamlessly into each other.


Outlander, a personal favorite of mine, has been nominated for and won several awards because of its score. Scored by Bear McCreary, the Outlander soundtracks help to tell the story even on their own and amplify some of the show’s most moving moments. With six albums and a seventh on the way, there is plenty of material for even the longest of study sessions.

Downton abbey

Another period TV show, Downton Abbey is focused on following a family in British nobility in 1912. Scored by John Lunn and performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London, this rich soundtrack helps to fill the background of any space with grand, regal sounds. While there are only a few albums to this show’s name, the songs are extensive, helping to tune one into their studying.

The mandalorian

Pivoting from period pieces, a seemingly unlikely entry to this list is the score from the popular Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. The Star Wars franchise is most notably known for its title sequence score, a musical expectation that carries over to the rest of the franchise’s subsects. The Mandalorian soundtrack, scored by Ludwig Göransson, utilizes rhythmic beats and winds to create a syncopated rhythm, the repetition being perfect for studying.


Rounding out the list of TV scores is the soundtrack for the acclaimed Marvel series Loki. The soundtrack for this popular TV series, scored by Natalie Holt, utilizes a stronger sound, utilizing more technological sounds and percussion beats, creating a grand soundscape. While this is a contender for the loudest instrumental soundtrack on this list, the repetitive undertones of the soundtrack provide an interesting background while straying away from being a distraction to the listener.

Videogame scores/mixes

As an avid videogame player, I would be remiss to not mention the stellar soundtracks featured in these games. However, many videogame companies are incredibly selective about where they choose to release their soundtracks, if they release them at all. That’s where the lovely work of Lo-fi artists comes in, remixing and remastering the iconic video game soundtracks while still holding true to the source material.

Zelda & chill

The albums that inspired my search for instrumental music, the Zelda & Chill albums by GameChops. These three albums take the iconic music from the Legend of Zelda franchise and set them to a soft beat accompanied by techno sounds and sound clips from the games. These albums are perfect for studying and can be enjoyed even if you’ve never played a Zelda game.

Café Days

A collaboration between two fantastic Lo-fi artists, Coffee Date & GameChops, the album Café Days remixes background music from multiple video games. Coffee Date adds elements of jazz and sounds one would hear in a coffee sound, such as coffee pouring, in the background as their flair. This album, and many of their others, is reminiscent of studying in a coffee shop, which is perfect if you can’t find one of your own to study in.

Coffee Talk

A slight deviation, the albums Coffee Talk and Coffee Talk Ep. 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, are the licensed soundtracks from the indie game series Coffee Talk, about a coffeehouse set in a fictional world. Scored by Andrew Jeremy, these albums contain instrumental songs with an 8-bit sound overlay, giving them a warm, cozy feel. These albums also contain famous piano pieces, such as “Clair de Lune”, and are given the cozy coffeehouse treatment.


The album Unpacking is in a similar vein to the Coffee Talk albums, as it is the licensed soundtrack to the indie game Unpacking. The game follows an unnamed protagonist as they unpack moving boxes as they grow up, and the soundtrack follows the themes of growing up and experiencing life. Scored by Jeff van Dyck, the album is cozy and inviting, with the same 8-bit sound overlay. One can almost determine the different stages of life the music is invoking with the slight changes in musical styles and song titles, ranging from “Child’s Play” to “Going Solo”.

Isabel is currently an English major at JMU who loves dancing, crocheting, and reading romance novels. You can find her working on a new project, trying to make a dent in her TBR, or rolling dice at her weekly D&D sessions.