Skip links

Flow State Music: 10 Best Instrumental Albums For Getting Into Flow

When you need to be creative and get things done at work, the ideal state of mind is a “stream of consciousness” state known as flow.

Flow is a technical term from psychology for an optimal state of consciousness where you feel your best and perform your best.

It is the ultimate performance enhancer. But for many of us, flow is an elusive state. That’s because the allure of multitasking and distraction is so difficult to resist in our hyperconnected age.

Since flow always follows focus, you need to set clear goals and eliminate all distractions so you can spend long periods of time working on a single task.  To get in this mental zone necessary for sustained concentration, I find that listening to instrumental music using headphones is very effective.

Music is a powerful flow enhancer because it literally lights up both hemispheres of your brain and it releases a constant stream of dopamine, which increases focus and makes what you are doing feel more enjoyable.

The best kind of flow music for most people is lyric-free instrumental music with a consistent beat. The main reason instrumental music is so effective is that it engages the emotional centers of your brain while songs with lyrics also activate the verbal reasoning areas of your brain, which can interfere with your focus.

Flow State Music: 10 Best Instrumental Albums For Flow

When I need to relax the chattering of my mind and get into a “stream of consciousness” flow state for doing inspired work, I turn to these instrumental albums for getting into flow.

1. Lindsey Stirling – Lindsey Stirling

Dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling is a YouTube sensation with 1.2 billion+ views. She skipped the typical record label route and built her loyal following online by making amazing videos.

Her entire self-titled album is phenomenal but the classical dubstep violin song “Crystalize” is my favorite track for getting pumped up.

Listen to more instrumental music from Lindsey Sterling on SpotifyiTunes, YouTube or her Website.


2. Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

The master of ambient sounds, Brian Eno crafts sonic soundscapes that are ideal for immersing yourself in reading and studying.

In particular, I find that “An Ending (Ascent)” has the peaceful beauty of a religious hymn and it inspires me every time I listen to it.

Listen to more instrumental music from Brian Eno on SpotifyiTunes or his Website.


3. Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells

This classic album has sold over 20 million copies since it was released in 1973. Tubular Bells also has the distinction of being the first release from Sir Richard Branson’s startup at the time, Virgin Records.

When I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll listen to a session of Tubular Bells to reignite my creative spark.

Listen to more instrumental music from Mike Oldfield on SpotifyiTunesYouTube or his Website.


4. Hans Zimmer – The Inception Soundtrack

Hans Zimmer is my favorite Hollywood musical composer. He has crafted brilliant soundtracks for epic films such as Inception, GladiatorThe Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King and Interstellar.

I find the slow build and epic finale of the song “Time” from Inception to be one of his greatest sonic masterpieces.

Listen to more instrumental music from Hans Zimmer on SpotifyiTunesYouTube or his Website.


5. Robert Miles – Dreamland

I first heard the Robert Miles song “Children” while driving home in a friend’s car from a rave when I was a teenager and I felt like it put me into a hypnotic flow state.

Ever since then, I’ve listened to this hypnotically beautiful song when I want to relax and clear my mind. I find his whole Dreamland album is one of the best instrumental albums for getting in a creative state of mind.

Listen to more instrumental music from Robert Miles on SpotifyiTunes or his YouTube.


[alert type=white ]

Experience Deep Transformative Meditation With These 6 Free Tracks

Download iAwake Explore – 6 free tracks designed to give you a taste of the solutions we provide for relaxation, optimal performance, spiritual development, and healing with binaural beat technology.

Free Binaural Beat Meditation Tracks


6. Tycho – Awake

Tycho seamlessly blends ambient, electronica and post-rock melodies into hypnotic soundscapes that I find are great for helping me get into the zone when I’m working.

The title track from his most recent album is a stroke of mellow genius.

Listen to more instrumental music from Tycho on SpotifyiTunes – YouTube or his Website.


7. Booker T. & The M.G.s – Green Onions

This instrumental album is full of guitar classics that mix R&B, soul, rock and funk. Booker T. Jones’ tuneful organ playing provides the background for each track and the guitar riffs on this album are simply legendary.

The groovy organ of the title track “Green Onions” has made it one of the most memorable rock instrumentals of all time.

Listen to more instrumental music from Booker T. & The M.G.s on SpotifyiTunesYouTube or their Website.


8. Afro Celt Sound System – Volume 1: Sound Magic

Afro Celt Sound System fuses modern dance rhythms with traditional Celtic and African music.

Dark Moon, High Tide” is one of my favorite songs. It’s a hauntingly beautiful fusion of Celtic bagpipes, flutes, guitar and percussion rhythms from Africa.

Listen to more instrumental music from Afro Celt Sound System on: SpotifyiTunesYouTube or their Website.


9. Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place

Explosions In The Sky are an American post-rock band with narratively styled guitar instrumentals, which they refer to as “cathartic mini-symphonies”.

Their songs usually start out quietly and then slowly build in intensity to soaring climactic crescendos.

Listen to more instrumental music from Explosions in the Sky on: SpotifyiTunesYouTube or their Website.


10. God Is An Astronaut – A Moment of Stillness

These guys are an Irish post-rock band that brilliantly mixes electronic music and elements of space rock.

If you love guitar-infused sonic landscapes then A Moment of Stillness is sure to blow you away with its sonic guitar wizardry.

Listen to more instrumental music from God Is An Astronaut on SpotifyiTunesYouTube or their Website.


What Gets You In The Zone?

You can listen and subscribe to my full playlist of Flow State Music Instrumentals on Spotify.

What are your favorite instrumental album for getting in the flow state? Let everyone know in the comments.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. THANK YOU, Thank you, Thank you!
    This is exactly what I have been looking for, literally. I heard ‘Your Hand in Mine’, by Explosions in the Sky, appx 8 years ago, didn’t know the name, and have been looking for it ever since. What a gift!
    Thanks again. Amazing list here.

  2. Man I am studying for quantum mechanics and your suggestions were absolutely incredible. You opened up a door that I never knew was there in music. Thank you for taking the time to share you musical suggestions.

  3. LOTR, Harry Potter, Joe Hisashi (Any Hayao Miyazaki film score), Inception (mentioned above) and Changeling all have great film scores to study to!

    1. Awesome pics, thanks for your contribution!

  4. Thanks for the recommendations. Just had a listen to Tycho whilst at work – thoroughly enjoyed it and still managed to get lots done! God Is An Astronaut are one of my favourites. I’m also a big fan of Mogwai and am in a band that write instrumental music. Here’s a link to one of our tracks – see what you think:

  5. some great suggestions here!

    Some of mine:

    Nils Frahm – Screws especially but all amazing
    Max Richter – Sleep
    Dirty Three – Ocean Songs

  6. Thanks – this is a great article.

    A couple of my favourites are Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

  7. Check out Stations of the Sun. I think they are on Soundcloud. Good instrumental with a bit of driving beat and violin. A space surf sound.

  8. Lazlo Hollyfeld (Albums: The Pacer, Desert) and Populous (Albums: Queue For Love) are both amazing instrumental artists. Definitely the kind of music to get you focused and in the mood to work/create! I would say that those entire albums are worth a listen through!

  9. Hey Kyle, thanks, great music… For my suggestion, try All India Radio: Echo Other, Fall and other albums…

  10. Check out the ever huge Jel – Greenball, Greenball 3.5, and Jel’s elusive – 10 Seconds.
    Jay Dilla instrumental records on Spotify there’s a bunch of goodies, ymmv, listen through for the best
    Madlib – Soundtracks 0-1, 3-4, instumental beats for Lootpack
    other artists who pretty much have excellent instumental discographies
    Four Tet
    Nosaj Thing
    Boards of Canada

    1. You know your beats! Great choices… Here’s a few more. Look for their instrumental albums.
      Kero One
      9th Wonder

  11. Some great choices here, Kyle. I have a few of these on my go-to focus list (Inception, Brian Eno, as well as a selection from God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky).

    I also second what Randy added re: Max Richter’s Four Seasons (saw him perform this last year at the Sydney Opera House!) and the Interstellar soundtrack. I also love using the soundtracks from the Bourne trilogy movies. Something about the intensity of the music…

    Also saw God is an Astronaut live a few months ago in Oslo. Great show!

    1. Thanks for adding your $0.02 Kevin! I’ve been listening to Max Richter’s recomposition of the Four Seasons and I really like it. Seeing God Is An Astronaut in Oslo must have been an epic experience!

  12. For me I have a few gotos, although not all completely instrumental:

    Max Richter – Recomposed – Vivaldi Four Seasons
    Max Richter – Memoryhouse
    Philip Glass – Solo Piano
    Ok Ikumi – Alpine Sequences
    Bonobo – Black Sands
    Philip Glass & Uakti – Aquas de Amazonia
    Hans Zimmer – Interstellar Score

    I also really like the Above & Beyond weekly podcast – Group Therapy.

    If I need something to pump me up, I’m a fan of mashup music like: – Bruneaux – The Art of Noise, Creature of Habit, and Pure Magic – Milkman – Circle of Fifths, Algorithms – Girltalk – Feed the Animals

  13. Some of these songs are real gems! I like to listen to instrumental jazz. Here are my picks:

    A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
    Time Out – The Dave Brubeck Quartet
    Saxophone Colossus – Sonny Rollins
    Jazz At Massey Hall – The Quintet
    Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

🍪 This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.