9 songs to never - ever - pair program to

Many programmers love to listen to music while coding; but pair programmers should be extra careful about what they choose to play

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Unless you or your pair programming partner is a tweenaged girl, it's best to avoid playing the Biebs when coding

REUTERS/Mike Cassese

The question of whether music boosts productivity is an age old one. Studies have been conducted, some supporting one side of the argument, others supporting the other. To me, these studies are a waste of time. The effect of music on productivity depends on the person (not to mention the music). Some people (like me) feel that music really does help them to focus, while others (like my wife) can’t work with music playing. C’est la vie!

Of course, listening to music isn’t an option for some jobs (e.g., judge, airline pilot, televangelist) while other careers seem tailor made to being done while grooving out. Programmer is definitely one of the latter professions. Sitting at a computer by your lonesome all day, with access to an essentially unlimited amount and variety of tunes through your mobile device or computer, just begs for it. 

Many folks have shared, discussed and analyzed the perfect music to code to. I’m not going to add to that well-worn discussion. Sure, when I was coding, I had my favorite tunes to get me going; for example, I always found the Smashing Pumpkins went well with Perl. But, again, whatever works for you, music or silence, Beethoven or Cee Lo, more power to you.

However, with the rise of pair programming, I think there’s a whole new angle to this discussion. What if one person likes to code to music but the other doesn’t? What if they both like to have music playing, but one prefers Django Reinhardt and the other Kanye West?

I never pair programmed, but this has gotten me to thinking: assuming two people pair programming together both want to listen to music while they work, regardless of their individual tastes, what music, or songs, should definitely be avoided at all costs? It seems to me that the wrong choice of music could pretty severely affect the chemistry of the pair and the quality of their output.

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