English Majors Making Great Music

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Stephen S, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Stephen S

    Stephen S Member

    Apr 10, 2002
    San Bernardino, CA
    Ever hear anyone say, "If you are good at math you are good at making music"? Well I have and Frankly, I'm bothered by it. I know that in music you have intervals. and progression and such, but 2+2 doesn't equal top 40, and I've never heard of anyone using math to create a real tear jerker. Do you think Cat's In the Cradle was written with a calculator? So I'm wondering if a 5th was called a verb and minor 3rd called a pronoun etc.. would English Majors be good at making music? Discuss amongst yourselves.
  2. pineapple


    Oct 16, 2003
    lexington, ky
    my degree is in english literature and i consider myself very decent at writing my own songs and laying down some good stuff behind my guitar player.

    and i did really, REALLY bad on the math part of the gre, even though it was considered basic. :spit:
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Donald Fagen had an English Lit degree I believe.
  4. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Neal Peart has a degree in english.
  5. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    I've never heard that expression, nor anything similar...besides, my TI-83 isn't the best musical instrument...

    On a similar token, weren't many of the members of Pink Floyd architecture guys? I suppose you could say that's the best of both worlds...

    Edit: TI-83 is a graphing calculator, for those not in the know...
  6. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    The last original band I was in (not counting my current sideman gig) back in the mid 90's was led by an English professor at the local State U. I figure it's pretty much all downhill after that, in terms of lyrical brilliance, at least.

  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I have a BA in English Lit.
    Sucked in Math until my late 20s(went back to school to work on an Associates Degree in generic Engineering)...approached Math as a language. Everything Math, at the time, clicked(finally). ;)

    Anyway, I do see how Math & music are related.

    Anthony Braxton, anyone?
  8. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    IIRC, mathematics/logic and music functions are both governed by the same brain hemispere (right or left? i never remember); also, insofar as both disciplines require analysis of relationships between objects (logical prepositions/intervals), it seems to make sense.
  9. I actually know quite a few English majors who are also musicians. I think English gives one a grasp of abstract concepts that you couldn't get from a math or science background. Stuff like analyzing pieces of literature, for example. Not to diminish those who take on math or science, since I'd think that a lot of what you learn through in-depth study of math could be of huge advantage when it comes to dealing with the theoretical side of music.
  10. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Perhaps you don't see or hear of too many math guys in music because they're too busy with jobs... :D
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
  12. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    <--- English degree here!
  13. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    The strange thing is that Maths is used everywhere. My maths teacher is so strange, he is very philisophical and i think has a degree in puzzles like getting out of ropes when you are tied together. He started talking about this and said that think of something where maths isnt used. So my mate said "executions." But it is. In a hanging they calculate their mass and height for the length of the rope, and how hi-up they must be.
    Maths is in the bass, becuase they have to get the good center of ballance, to stop neck diving and to stop it topling over on it's strap. I also think that they used a formula for the frets. Where by getting higher it doesn't have to have a big gap as when compared to a lower fret.

    That probably makes no sense.
  14. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    The relationship came from the Howard Gardner theory of multiple intelligences. (I think we had a discussion about this sometime ago) I don't really see how changing interval names to grammer terms would make music more accessible to people with a higher linguistic disposition. Numbers follow a logical sequence of order. Grammer does to an extent, but not carved in stone like math. A noun usually comes before a verb in a sentence, but that isn't always the case. Even if you used grammer terms to define interval names, you would still have to use math to explain where they fall into relation of each other. i.e. Let's say you had the noun (tonic), and the direct object (mediant); to explain how they relate to each other, you would have to say that the direct object is 4 semi-tones from the noun. You are going to have to use math to explain music anyways.

    My story sounds a lot like Jim's. Realizing that if I remained in the IT business right now, it would be a struggle, I knew I had to make a career change. (better when you are young rather than old) I had never taken my SATs. I was never a good math student in school, but I knew I would have to study it to take the test. I found myself an old Algebra 1 book and began working my way through it. I actually grasped all of the concepts easily and did well on executing the problems. It turns out the college I'm planning on going to doesn't require SATs because I've been out of HS for a few years, but I'm still glad I taught myself the Algebra. I'm not going to be the next Pythogaras or anything but math is no longer a struggle for me. Did I have lousy teachers in school? Yeah, but I'm disiplined enough to learn on my own. Was I just lazy? No, I got high marks in everything else. Did my math intelligence become more developed over time? Bingo!!!

    For the record, my most developed intelligence in linguistics. (I usually don't waste time on the board typing as eloquent as I can because I doubt many people actually pay that much attention to me hear) I'm thinking about getting a job in sales while I'm in college. :D

    Sting was a teacher. Wasn't it English?
  15. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Your mate is a sadistic mofo. :D
  16. The most chops-obsessed, least tasteful musicians I've ever known were all engineering majors.
  17. ...and most of his lyrics are fan-fic renditions of books I'm sure he was forced to read in university.

    "Look at me! I'm erudite! I can force Geddy Lee to sing my erudite lyrics!"

  18. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000

    Well, at least Neil's lyrics are better than the D&D inspired lyrics of a lot of today's Power Metal bands. (i.e. Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, ect.)

    BTW, If I remember correctly, Stephen Jenkins from Third Eye Blind has an English degree
  19. Old-school D&D-inspired lyrics (Rainbow/Dio, late-period Sabbath, etc.) are so much better than contemporary ones.

    Jenkins is a bastard. I want to punch him every time I see him.
  20. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I think you might be right there.