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collaborator mix: Ayla's wordless

How do you wordless? If you’re like me, then you likely cue up lyric-less playlists as you start your workday or dive into a creative project, or when you’re ready to settle down in a hammock and catch up on reading. And if you need some fresh sans-words finds, then I’ve made a specially curated playlist just for you!

The mix starts with some ear-massaging neoclassical music to ease you into the day and remind you of the spaciousness of the moment, with songs by Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds and German pianist Alice Sara Ott – the goal being to ground and center the listener before working/creating. (And yes, the first song is intentionally somber; with the news of the last two years, I’ve found it helpful to take a moment to feel/acknowledge things before setting it down and shifting focus.) Other artists on the mix that reflect this vibe include Ludovico Einaudi, Nils Frahm, and Peter Sandberg.

Pretty quickly, with tracks by Tycho and Sol Rising, the playlist shifts toward peak flow state vibes that might make you want to move a little bit. (And you should! The latest neuroscience tells us that moving our bodies can enhance cognition and strengthen learning/memory, so it doesn’t hurt to have a little dance party in the morning.) Other flow state gems on the mix include songs by Tundra Beats, RJD2 (get it?), Com Truise (get it?!), and Else (a duo whose song titles reflect their home country, France). For ones with a nice steady beat – like that rowing scene in Ben-Hur, perfect for when you just need to crank out email replies – the playlist also features the Chromatics, Tourist, and Tone Ranger (whose song titles reflect his home country, the American West).

Feeling adventurous? Need some inspiration? The next phase of the mix includes songs that may make you pause, but in a good way. Elevate your auditory sensors with tunes by Lapalux, Explosions in the Sky, Shlohmo, and TOKiMONSTA – a DJ from LA who actually lost her ability to make music for awhile (check out Lune Rouge, her first album post-recovery). For extra adventure, check out the epic Matmos album Ultimate Care II, which is set to a base score of... laundry in a washing machine.

Last, but definitely not least, are tunes I call “anomalous finds” – a little out of the box and more acoustically oriented, peppered throughout the playlist: wordless songs by Isaac Hayes, Jonathan Richman, and the Beach Boys (in honor of the glorious lost wordless genre of 1960s instrumental surf rock), as well as 21st century gems by Richard Houghton, the Centurians, and Klik & Frik.

And that about covers it. If you made it this far, thank you! Music is such a treasure, especially in difficult times, so I hope you enjoy this collection.

(If you've got your own favorite wordless music to share, check out our open and public collaborative playlist. And if you want to create one of these mixes and write a blog about it, send us a note! wordlesscollective[at]gmail[dot]com.)


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