Our next stop on the library train brings us to a theatre. The Byre Theatre functions as the town and university’s setting for most theatre productions and film shows. The modern, 1930s architectural characteristics of the building, combined with the interior’s warm lighting, orange tones, wooden tables, stone walls, and contemporary artistic hangings, forms a complete dedication to aestheticism and creativity. When you’re there, and you’ve taken advantage of the theatre’s calming studying spaces, you’ve entered this realm of creativity. For me, the Byre is not the study space for the busiest of my workload days, when it is ten in the morning and the weight of your unwritten essay drags your mood, and the hours of work loom ahead. It’s the setting for when you want to enjoy your work, for when you just have lecture notes to review or tutorial preparation to get ahead on, for when you want to feel like a university student watching Art History lectures studying in a beautiful Scottish seaside town. The study spaces are funky, warm, imaginative. So the Library Listens that follows does not exactly have the same effect as the white noise sound- proof-headphone soundtrack that I usually turn on during deadline week.
It starts with the jazz classics we all know and love. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington immediately trigger an ambiance of ease and concentration. The playlist then looks to Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night” to up the pace a bit, taking students into a faster headspace.
Leon Bridges, the 21st-century neo-soul-pop-rock artist primarily inspired by these jazz and soul pioneers, takes the reins as his debut album tracks bring the calming, sweet, and romantic vocals that perfectly match the slow and glowing lighting of the daylight Byre study session. “Smooth Sailin” amps up the tempo and transitions us into the funky, classic Paul Simon album “Graceland.” The Byre Theatre serves as a multimedia setting, and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” perfectly matches this functional combination. Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo take the university student on a mesmerising journey. The harmonies and eventful vocal overlays continue in Simon & Garfunkel’s “Baby Driver.” These groovier instrumentals motivate your lecture type-ups and problem sets.
We travel back to the 70s with some Carole King, Van Morrison, and James Taylor classics, perhaps reminiscent of car rides auxed by your parents, to continue with these stimulating older-school instrumentals.
The second half of the playlist, however, pursues even further the more contemporary versions of innovative, creative, and warm complex instrumentals. NewYork- native band LCD Soundsystem defines the overlap between techno- innovation and rock sound. These two longer LCD Soundsystem tracks garner creative energy but prove rhythmically funky and consistent enough to maintain academic focus. The Alabama Shakes, Lake Street Dive, and Father John Misty songs trigger the happy and comforting jazz, contemporary folk-rock sound perfect for the calm Byre session.
Still Woozy’s classic indie-pop hit “Goodie Bag” and his most recent album’s “That’s Life” further this consistent alternative neo-funk sound. The playlist finishes off the experimental sounds with the recent Bruno Mars-Anderson .Paak duo, and some of Anderson .Paak’s Malibu’s jazzy, neo-soul, hip-hop sound I find mesmerising. I chose to end the playlist with a return to the techno-experiments encapsulating one final dedication to the creative innovation that matches the Byre so well. Michigan native band also known for its rhythmic skill and funky patterns, Vulfpeck and LCD Soundsystem complete the musical journey. “Dean Town” and “45:33” boast addicting melodies so diverse in techno-sound and beautifully contrasted to, but somehow the 21st-century version of, the original jazz forms of experimentation and innovative instrumental music. These unique pieces push the Byre Theatre studying students into a typing rhythm that locks in those last hours of productivity.
You can find this playlist and all of our Library Listens over on The Saint’s Spotify account: