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LoFi music

LoFi music, mental health, and its beautiful impact on its listeners

LoFi music has made a huge splash on the internet during the start of the pandemic, especially with mental health.

As people attempted to find new ways to focus and relieve stress while adjusting to a new work-from-home environment, Lo-Fi music steps in to bring in sounds that create the perfect ambiance for a stress-free productive environment.

According to Discovery Mazingine’s “ Why, LoFi Music Draws Listeners In” it defines Lofi as “ ‘ ‘low-fidelity,’ a term for music where you can hear imperfections that would typically be considered errors in the recording process …those ‘mistakes’ become an intentional part of the listening experience.”

The kind of music is rooted in no vocals, jazz sounds, bass and snare drums in a boom bat rhythm, and natural ambiance sound in everyday life coming together to create a beat that hits the sweet spot of not being over the top and not too slow which is perfect for stimulation.

One person highly credited for this style of creating beats is J Dilla a rapper/ producer from Detriot, who rose in the underground Hip-hop scene during the 90s.

He was highly respected in the hip-hop community and worked with big names like Erykah Badu, Tribe Called Quest, QTip, Common, etc. At the time of his last and most accredited work Donuts (2006) dropped, he was in the hospital due to complications with lupus.

He passed away after his 33rd Birthday. Most of what is listened to as Lo-fI music today has his musical legacy all over it.

These particular type of study/stress-free playlists is popular on platforms like SoundCloud, Youtube, and Spotify.

According to’s “ The science behind the ‘beats to study to’ craze” Brain.FM’s company director Kevin Woods, who also holds a Ph.D. in auditory neuroscience was quoted stating:

“​​Good focus music has no vocals, no strong melodies, ‘dark’ spectrum, dense texture, minimal salient events (more on that later), heavy spatialization, a steady pulse, sub-30-200Hz modulation, and above 10-20Hz modulation… Ideally, focus music is going to have a drive and energy. You want a sense of motion in the music, not just something light and airy”

When it comes to mental health, there have been studies that correlate the kind of music that is listened to, and the arousal state you are in. A medium post by Elisabeth Sherman referenced this study created by a member of the Cambridge brain sciences team in 2017, Tram Nguyen.

Nguyen was quoted in the piece stating “ ‘High-arousal’ music often has more distinct events per unit of time than low-arousal music, potentially making it more distracting, because the listener is more focused on processing the music rather than the task at hand.”

The overall study proved that “low-arousal negative music — music with low tempos and minor chord melodies, which are usually associated with despondency and sadness — improved memory performance the most.”

This kind of music does have the potential to block out intrusive noise through aural cocooning which is when a sound is repetitive and predictable enough to tune extra noise.

This kind of music also creates sound spatialization. This means the music has an element that hears as although it’s actually in the same room compared to the way hear through regular headphones. The rhythm and repetition of these beats create a stimulating environment. This can also help with cognitive issues.

Although there are some studies, there isn’t anything overly stating that Lo-Fi can be a fixer helper for mental health. LoFi music’s ability to create a calm and chilling atmosphere is something that overall can help regulate your mental health and emotions throughout work and everyday tasks.

1. Lofi Girl

2. ChillHop


Lofi music is the new wave: The evolution of an underground genre

Lofi music stands for low-fidelity music, it is the opposite of high-fidelity music. Think vinyl. High-fidelity music, namely, is the high-quality music production behind most mainstream music nowadays.

Unlike Hi-fi music that is precise and perfect in every detail, lofi music contains audible imperfections such as background noise or performance mistakes; Lo-fi music happens when the music is recorded with inexpensive equipment.

PHOTO CRED: Lofi Girl (YouTube)

Despite its imperfect nature, lofi music celebrates an authentic aesthetic, unique beauty of its own kind. Most of the time, the genre is non-lyrical. If you hear people’s voices, they are likely from samples of early television or radio recordings.

In the last ten years, the genre has flourished on platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud. Throughout the years, it has drawn millions of listeners. But why are music producers and common people so obsessed with lofi music? We investigate.

The evolution of lofi music

Even if lo-fi music has just gained much attention in the recent decade, something similar to it has been around since the 50s. Errors and mistakes in the recording process are admired in the genre; they are even sometimes intentionally created to enhance the listening experience.

People who listen to lo-fi music for the first time can get hooked on to its rhythm easily. The ambiance that the music brings to the audience is relaxing and embracing; it is like a chill community. In a way, we can say it provides listeners with a sense of belonging.

Lo-fi music is its own genre, but its characteristics are frequently added to other genres of music as well. According to MasterClass, in the 80s and 90s, “many punk, indie rock, and hip-hop artists pursued a lofi aesthetic for economic and artistic reasons.”

Contemporary Lo-fi music started when live streaming began to flourish on YouTube in 2013. Lo-fi pioneer Nujabes, for instance, has played an important role in promoting this genre of music on social media.

His 2004 soundtrack, Samurai Champloo, combines Lo-fi and Japanese animation and adds some visual elements to the livestreams. Other known Lo-fi artists on YouTube are French artist ChilledCow (now Lofi Girl), Netherlands-based Chillhop Music, Chilli Music, and etc.

Benefits of lofi music

How do you identify lo-fi music? Well, it has three key characteristics. First, drum loops form its rhythms. Second, jazz chords create relaxed and thoughtful quality. Lastly, samples build connections between different mediums.

Lo-fi music serves many purposes in our everyday life. Students put it on as background music to help them concentrate while studying. As Brenden Lutes writes, the technical flaws such as distortion, background noise, or limited frequency response in the music can trigger the cerebrum and help people focus.

Music therapists use it to assist patients in coping with their stressful surroundings. lo-fi music carries a therapeutic purpose. It soothes anxieties and helps its listeners articulate their emotions better.

Why is lo-fi becoming a trend?

It’s great to integrate Lo-fi music into your personal project.

As slow music, Lo-fi releases Serotonin – a neurotransmitter known as “Happy Hormone”, increases Dopamine, and decreases Cortisol (a stress hormone). The music itself produces positive neurophysiological effects that help increase brain activities. Moreover, other benefits that Lo-fi music bring are improved cognitive ability, elevated mood, reduced anxiety, and restorative effects.

But why is lofi music so good? Because it motivates us to be more productive and performative in our projects. When we experience improvements in our progress, we feel the urge to further pursue our passions and increase our commitments.

Furthermore, lofi music is known for its power to help people find their communities online. Utilizing lofi music as the background music in your project, in this case, allows people to connect and communicate while checking out your work.

What does lofi music say?

@Chilli Music

Just because lo-fi is an “imperfect” production of music doesn’t mean it’s shallow. Behind its chill beats, lo-fi music sings people’s needs to seek for a safe haven in contemporary society. More importantly, it subtly reflects people’s struggles and their intentions to reclaim calmness in the chaos.

Listening to lo-fi is not simply to relax. It is a spiritual journey of communication that connects different souls. To hear a story, to be touched, and to generate empathy. And within these deeply felt emotions, we attain a higher level of creativity and enlightenment.