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Are all great musicians good at physics?

  1. Jun 15, 2013 #1
    A lot of physicists were good at music. A lot of musicians were good at physics ( for example, the pink floyd guys who went to architecture school. One beatles member wanted to be an engineer, another was good at mechanics. )

    Does this mean all great musicians were good at physics, too?

    Can you name some great musicians who were known to be not good at physics?

    I am worried about it, because music is the most important thing in my life, but I am not good at physics. Does that mean my brain is hardwired to make me not do good in music?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2013 #2
    Great question, tare, and welcome to PF :smile: First of all, to be a good scientist, try to avoid using the word "all" unless you really mean it. So your answer is no. But there is a connection there. Of course, two examples you missed were Einstein and his violin, and Brian May from Queen, who actually published a book recently.

    I'll give you my personal opinion here, and this is just my personal opinion, as I am not a physicist, I'm a neurobiologist and a musician. But's that's where I think I can add to the discussion. I've found that there are 2 types of musicians, left brain and right brain. The left brain type are the technically proficient. These are usually the studio musician type. The other are more the right brain type. These are the type's of jokers that stink technically, but somehow can pull a great song out of nowhere. Most mathematicians and physicists are left brain leaning thinkers in my experience, so it's not surprising that these are the more technically proficient instrumentalists. I don't know about their songwriting, though. :redface:
  4. Jun 15, 2013 #3
    To be good at physics, you need to sit down and study it a lot. How many great musicians have not taken the time to sit down and study physics a lot? Probably millions.
  5. Jun 15, 2013 #4
    Thank you very much for your reply. And yes, it's my first post on PF. And thanks for noticing it.

    About the examples I gave. I actually mentioned some musicians who were also good at physics. I have read about a lot of physicists who were good at music, including of course Einstein, but my concern was not whether ''all physicists are good at music'', because I know a lot of people who are good at physics but not good at music. My concern was whether ''all musicians are good at physics'', because if that's so, then to do well in music, I have to be good at physics, too.

    And about my using the word ''all.'' I know generalization is not a great thing to do when you talk about science with limited data at your hand. That's why I needed some examples of great musicians who were ''known to be NOT good at physics.''
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  6. Jun 15, 2013 #5
    That's true, probably.

    But I wonder whether they could think about how the world works like physicists, too.
  7. Jun 15, 2013 #6
    That's what we in the biz call a non-sequitor. Why would you think that?
  8. Jun 15, 2013 #7
    And about my using the word ''all.'' I know generalization is not a great thing to do when you talk about science with limited data at your hand. That's why I needed some examples of great musicians who were ''known to be NOT good at physics.''
  9. Jun 15, 2013 #8
    The reason is a little complicated. Can I send you a personal message on that?
  10. Jun 15, 2013 #9
    I'd be hard pressed to name more than one or two musicians that have studied physics at all. What a bizarre question.
  11. Jun 15, 2013 #10


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    None of them were physicists, nor do the fields you cite equate to physics.

    As for anecdotal observation, I am a physicist and played in the symphony orchestra in college. Most of the orchestra members, and all of the ones who went on to professional careers, were highly allergic to physics.
  12. Jun 15, 2013 #11
    Thank you very much. This is exactly what I needed.
  13. Jun 17, 2013 #12


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    Many musicians have an aptitude for math.

    The physics probably has little to do with it, except math is an even stronger requirement to be good at physics.
  14. Jun 20, 2013 #13
    I found out recently that Gerald Donald of seminal Detroit techno outfit Drexciya, is a physicist! :)


    He's written some very thoughtful electronic music over the years. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  15. Jul 28, 2013 #14
    I know this is a Necro...and irrelevent.

    Just thought I would say Richard Feynman played a mean bongo.
  16. Jul 28, 2013 #15
  17. Jul 28, 2013 #16
    He knows. He wants to know if Leonard Bernstein could draw a mean Feynman diagram.
  18. Jul 28, 2013 #17


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    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
  19. Jul 28, 2013 #18
    This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.
  20. Jul 28, 2013 #19
  21. Jul 28, 2013 #20
    I am very good at science and math but I am an absolutely terrible musician. However, I am an excellent writer and speaker.
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