musical ability and intelligence...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DEFELDUS, Jul 30, 2003.



    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    ok, i am very involved in my high school band, i play bass for the marching and jazz bands, and am debating playing for the wind ensemble (double bass baby!) and i have come to a conclusion: people who are talented in music tend to be much more intelligent than the average people. in my band program about 60-70% of the kids are horrible, musically, behaviorally, and intelligently... yet the ones who are talented musically i have noticed are also the ones who are more intelligent (and have better behavior of course). so i was wondering, in you guys' opinions do you think there is a direct corrolation between intelligence and musical ability? i definately do.
  2. the overlooked

    the overlooked Guest

    Jun 8, 2003
    i dont. look at all those 80's hair bands. great guitar players. total idiots. look at kurt cobain. musical genious- total moron
  3. Uhhh...well....

    See, the thing about that is...uhhh....

    fieldy r001z!
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Portland, OR
    I wouldn't call Cobain a genius. And I don't think the 80's bands were stupid. Just really, really high.

    There might be some correlation, but I'm not aware of any specifics or studies. I know they say music really helps people do better academically, but I don't know about intelligence helping music.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    err, perhaps this is the wrong forum. i didnt mean in popular music, seeing as how my experience im drawing this from is from a classical sense maybe i should post this in the db forum. also, i didnt mean it as a "do either help the other" type thing either. i've just noticed all the "good" players are much more intelligent than the others. and im sure there are exceptions. just because one has a lot of musical ability doesnt automatically make them smart and vice versa. anyways, its just been something i've been pondering for quite a while.
  6. the overlooked

    the overlooked Guest

    Jun 8, 2003
    well one could argue that you must be dumb to begin with if you do drugs
  7. I knew a girl who practiced piano for 5 hours a day then studied the rest of the day. She's also skipped a grade and is studying to be a lawyer AND a doctor. :eek:

    Their talent comes from hours of practicing, only after hours of studying math/science/etc. Sometimes a person may be naturally inclined one way or another, but to be good at both requires work. And it requires a certain person to want to work in such a way.

    You should make a study though. Compare their school achievements with their musical achievements. But then to quote Benjamin Disraeli: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."
  8. Intelligent people know you have to study to get good grades, and you have to practice alot to become good at your instrument. Dumb people don't practice, thus they suck at their instrument.

    I hope that made a little sense, Im kinda out of it right now and really shouldn't be posting in intelligent threads till I get some sleep...
  9. What if you know you should study to get good grades but don't? (In math,physics and music I usually have grades like A or A+ without studying, so in those cases it doesn't really matter)
  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    As my old band director, Ben Minor, used to say, "Music is an intellectual activity." Of course true musical talent is a sign of intellectual superiority.
  11. I have never met a "proficient" musician who is not more "intelligent" than the average joe. But in saying that, im sure there are absolute musical geniuses out there who are a thick as 2 short planks of wood.
  12. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Tacoma WA
    Depends on what is meant by "Intelligence". The regurgitation of information or problem solving/common sense?

    I have an Uncle who's IQ tests are near 200 and can sit and answer every question on "Jeopardy", but doesn't have the common sense God gave a 2x4.

    Frank Zappa, when asked about some of the phenomenal players that have come through his bands, said that the more virtuostic some of his players were, the more other common brain functions/social skills seemed to suffer. He said it was like babysitting half the time. Some of his guys couldn't brush their teeth properly.

    I used to work with a guitar player that was possibly the scariest musician I ever saw.
    You could pull just about any Jazz tune out of the hat, in any key, and he could play the most wonderful, unaccompanied version you ever heard.
    He could run the most obscure, absurd scales at lightning speeds, yet he was so clueless about everything else in everyday life I sometimes wondered how he got through each day without getting himself killed.

    Although I agree that the average musician is probably a little more intelligent than the average non-musician, I've worked with a few others that had Jaco-like virtuosity on their instrument and they always seem to be "nutcases" off the stage. Doing/saying things that constantly left everybody around them scratching their heads.:confused: :meh:
  13. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    The ignorance you display continues to astound me.
  14. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    In answer to the original question, there is a known link between intelligence and musical ability, I believe.
  15. Moley is indeed correct. There have been several studies that have shown that folks with musical ability in general have a higher IQ than folks without musical ability.

    The key point above is "in general".

    I personally believe that EVERYONE has talent in some area, but that few people have true talent in a LOT of areas. I like to call my pet theory the "status quo model". This is just an observation I have from reading up on the lives of talented folks and knowing some in my own lifetime: Those with a lot of talent in one area SEEM to lack talent in other areas, hence some of the examples above in this thread.

    I'll give you some better examples....Mozart...maybe the greatest composer of all time...yet never developed emotionally above a 12 year old. Ravel, the great impressionistic composer was totally lost in social situations. Andrew Jackson was a military genius but couldn't but two sentences together to save his life, and oh PLEASE turn on the spell checker.

    I could go on and on with examples, but I wish to make another point here. I support Howard Gardner's theory on multiple intelligences, of which music is one. Very few are blessed with intelligence in all areas of his spectrum.

    Just to recap both sides of the equation here since I rambled a bit...folks with musical ability have higher IQ's...and musical ability is its own form of intelligence.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    good responses (for the most part ;)) keep em coming

    but yeah, i definately think there is a link. i think its not that being intelligent makes music easy or anything, but its more along the lines of the way a person is that makes them develope in both areas. for instance the "smart" kid is the kind that knows whats what and how to do it (i.e. practice and learning and such) whereas the "stupid" kid is the type that doesnt take anything seriously and is generally immature.

    so yeah, i think its more about the personality and the way that persons brain works, which makes it easier for them (us) to excel in whatever area we choose. like we know if we want to progress, we have to work for it, and we are willing to do it. we dont expect it just to happen or someone just hand it over to us.
  17. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area

    Intelligence is not some unitary measurable quality like the IQ test implies. Educators pretty much agree w/ Gardner that there are multiple intelligences. I forget the list but its something like


    and like 2 others. I guess memory isn't one of my areas of intelligence.
  18. Speaking about how the brain works.....its the spatial ability that is connected with music AND math where the connection of musical ability and intelligence can be found. Those folks who score high in spatial abilities also score high in math and musical abilities.

    Once again, this is a general statement, mileage may vary.

    Not to brag (but I will anyway), my son plays piano quite well and scores in the 99% on math tests. I won't tell you what his IQ is...but its way way out there.
  19. Gardner's list is:

    Visual/Spatial Intelligence
    Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
    Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
    Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence
    Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence
    Interpersonal Intelligence
    Intrapersonal Intelligence
  20. High school chem class. I did about four hours of study out of school for the entire year 12 syllabus, but ended up explaining stuff to people who had done literally *tens of times* more work than me, and my comprehension of the subject was still much higher.

    That's really irrelevant in terms of academic achievement - despite OK grades, I was not a good student - but how do explain the millions of people like me who just find some things easy if all there is to comprehension is hard work? It doesn't make no sense.

    I figure, music is like that. And if I found music as easy, as *natural* as maths or chemistry, I would be a very happy man.