Some people need absolute silence to be at peace or to work. Others opt for lo-fi beats, classical piano or white noise to help tune their wandering brains. Lately, however, I’ve discovered a section of YouTube that allows me to feel cosy, nostalgic and peaceful, filling dead silences with tingling ASMR noises and relaxing ambient sounds. Whether I want to hear the soft patter of raindrops on the window of a café, the quiet chatter of Parisians in a jazzy French bar or Elvish songs accompanying a gorgeous visual of Rivendell, there’s quite literally something for everyone. From the weird to the wonderful, here are 9 of my favourite ambient music soundscapes and videos on YouTube.
Jazz in a Rainy Coffee Shop
When I was at University, I always favoured working in cafés over the quiet, gloomy library. My brain feels calm and focused when I can hear the chatter and minutiae of daily life. I long for the day, post-COVID, where I can sit in a stained, sagging leather armchair, touching knees with a stranger, sipping on a flat white with a novel in my hands. With jazz, rain and gorgeous visuals, this video is one of my favourites, making me yearn for the small daily pleasures and feelings of comfort that this pandemic has robbed from us.
Rainy Hogwarts Study Session
It’s funny how those Harry Potter books just wrote themselves, huh? No idea who the author is. Not a clue. Growing up obsessed with the Wizarding World and having limited myself to just one re-watch a year, suffice to say I was pretty excited to discover this delight. The rustle of book pages, the soft glow of candlelight and lamplight, the rainfall against the stained-glass window: all the little details come together to make you feel like you’re hunched over in your house’s common room, scribbling away with a quill.
Cosy Cabin with Rain, Thunder and Fire
Though quite similar to the jazzy café, this video eschews any form of melodic music and instead focuses its attention on creating a soundscape of rain, crackling logs on a fire and distant thunder. Out of the window we see trees sway and the outline of misty hills, while indoors, a tortoiseshell cat perches on a bed and a steaming mug of tea sits expectantly next to a typewriter. Unspeakably soothing.
Rainy Music and Music from Studio Ghibli
It’s no secret that the films of Studio Ghibli are known for their calming qualities, with storylines that pull on the heartstrings and stunning visuals to boot. But it’s the music, for me, that really makes Studio Ghibli feel like a cosy hug on a cold day. With the majority of the music composed by Joe Hisaishi, here his beautiful compositions are paired with the gentle patter of rainfall, featuring music from My Neighbor Totoro, The Wind Rises, Princess Mononoke and more.
A Rainy Night at Hogwarts with Music from the Films
The last Potter-themed addition to this list, I promise: this one, unlike the previous, opts for music from the film that adds to the angsty, elegiac vibe of the video here, depicting the Hogwarts Castle and rainfall. Though the early Harry Potter films recall memories of cosy common rooms, crackling fires and Christmas jumpers, there’s also that tinge of sadness that accompanies the storyline – the protagonist is an orphan with murdered parents, after all.
Twilight at Rivendell – Music and Ambient Sounds from Lord of the Rings
There are countless Lord of the Rings music compilations and soundscapes on YouTube covering the Shire, Rohan and back again, but one of my favourites is this soothing soundscape evoking the sounds of Rivendell. Howard Shore’s note-perfect score enlivens Tolkein’s universe, which revolves heavily around songs and music. The mystical Elvish song that floats in and out of this ambient video is equal parts haunting and relaxing, combining with the periodic tweet of a bird, the rustling wind and the faraway sound of waterfall.
Rainy Day Sounds and Music from Animal Crossing
Oh to be 11 years old again, peacefully playing Animal Crossing: Wild World on my Nintendo DS under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. The game franchise is known for its quietly calm and therapeutic qualities that allow you to potter, garden and fish to your heart’s content – and also for its distinctive music. This video makes me unlock so many nostalgic memories that I had forgotten I had, letting the worries of my day ease away as I fired up the game and felt soothed by the score.
French Cafe Music and Ambience
In case you’re not one of the unlucky souls I know in real life who hear me prattle on about it every day, I lived in Paris for a year and yes, it was the best year of my life. I’d give anything to go back to my gorgeous apartment nestled between Bastille and the Marche d’Aligre, where buskers played the accordion and surly Frenchmen chatted animatedly in cosy café terraces that lined every street. The next best thing I can get is this video, which doesn’t do a bad job at all.
Relaxing Snowy Piano
Christmas may still be four months away, but I can’t be the only one wishing for the boring hazy days of summer to end so that I can wear my woollies, drinking copious amounts of red wine and crank the Nat King Cole. I adore everything about the magic of snowy scenery, and this video lets you listen to soft, distant piano while admiring the snowcapped outdoors from the comfort of a cosy indoor bed. Add that to the intermittent crackle of a fire and rustling blankets and you’re good to go.
Words by Steph Green
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