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Programmers who are also musicians – what's your #1 motivation? (Survey)
7 points by MusicToTheEars 17 days ago | hide | past | web | 7 comments | favorite
I know this sounds like a weird request – but apparently a lot of software developers also happen to be musicians.

I'm looking to structure music lessons for "logical-minded" learners (e.g. STEM-oriented people). But first, I'd love to get a sense of what programmers are like – what motivates you, what style you like, why you would want to take up a creative art, etc.

Anyone up for filling out this short survey? It's only 8 questions. All responses are anonymous.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TCD32ZV

I might make another survey to get specific insights about music concepts. I know a lot of people find music, especially the notation, completely illogical (thanks to an article I came across here called "Music theory for nerds").

Thanks, I appreciate your feedback!




The notation of western music needs a serious upgrade. Or more people should be made aware of the other types of notation out there such as graphic scores. I think programmers would really dig coming up with their own notation to favor a certain aspect of music they would like to bring out. For example, western classical (the usual notation everyone thinks of as musical notation that isn't a lead sheet) notation isn't so great for having the result come out all that much differently each time. It is a kind of "paint by numbers" that favors the composer who wrote it. Other types put more responsibility on the player. I think novice musicians are not encouraged to think in these ways that can be tremendously inspirational from an educational standpoint.

Thanks! Yes certainly, the notation looks outdated. Even the names and terminology are so ingrained in western classical. Lately I've been using numbers 0-11 for the intervals, instead of the traditional 1-7 with a confusing system of #'s and b's. 0-11 uses more numbers, but at least I can just subtract two different notes to find the interval between them.

the intervals being important is one of the problems with its notation. But then we have Ornette and Andriessen and many others after them who write otherwise; free-er with emphasis on different elements or structural shapes. Obviously, the terminology depends on the composer, but in old classical music up to about 1960, that is true. After that, there was a lot of linguistic variation. The sharps flats thing is really confusing, especially to learners. Then there is the whole transposition thing. (on different instruments) And all of this because composers want to make sure their music will sound almost exactly the same each time it is played so we all know who to give credit to. The cool thing and the progressive thing would be to let go of that idea of attribution and reproduction being the key thing. It is very colonial, not very artistic, actually. In my view, we should always be reaching for something as artists, and the underlying philosophy has been revealed to be outdated- not aspirational for our world today, and rather elitist. It would be cool to have more people like you working on new notation systems that open up the field.

I think programmers especially are attracted to music because it's an emotional medium that follows logical rules, not terribly unlike fractal art.

Unlike something such as painting, there is an absolute 'right' and 'wrong' sound. The music "won't compile" if you play a note in the chord too sharp or flat.

That and you can enjoy your hobby while working, which is a huge plus for me :)


Music is one of the most logical things out there. It either sounds good (to you), or it doesn't. If it doesn't sound good to you, you change it until it does.

In your research, you might want to look into people who only play physical instruments, versus people who record and use DAWs to compose and put songs together on their computers. The latter is even closer to programming than just thinking about music theory, and a lot of people might be interested in learning how to do it.


Thanks for your advice! Yes, instrument-players and DAW users probably have different work styles, though many respondents still had a similar motivation for music – improvising and coming up with melodies – based on the results so far. A lot of people chose "develop their creative side", so perhaps composing/creating music is a common trait among programmers (as opposed to just performing).

Survey completed! Maybe a bit off topic, but it would be good to create a list of music artists or bands that programmers listen the most. I'm always thinking about how Pink Floyd for example helped me a lot to finish some important tasks and how their music helped me multiple times to bring myself in to the zone :)))




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