Previously, in Hire a Music Major, I said people with music degrees “are anthropologists, journalists, scientists, and artists, with mastery in the sonic foundations of culture and communication.” Let’s unpack that statement.
Musicians study humans.
Anthropology is the study of people in a societal context, including the development of past and present culture, society, and linguistic nuances. Most music programs require course material (and major focus areas) in ethnomusicology or world music, and music history or the development of various musical styles. Dipping your toes means you have to analyze society minutia while keeping a big-picture worldview and timeline in mind. Majors must understand history and follow the trends of the human mind towards a shared sense of beauty, movement, collaboration, and language. Finally, add extensive travel and public presentation of all learning. This makes musicians Anthropologists and Historians, causing many to become Producers, Journalists, Media Mavericks, Teachers, and Activists.
Music is complicated, entrepreneurial science.
It’s so complicated that programmers still struggle with computer generated sound, long after they can procedurally generate beautiful images, code, and news articles. Musicians master the science of sound and learn the language of music. They learn the rules of harmonic progression, and then when to break these rules, and then they must intuit breaking the rules of breaking rules. This is the difficulty of music. Like emotion, music follows multiple layers of code and rule following and breaking. For this reason a lot of music majors go on to become Psychiatrists, Programmers, and Business Admin. They dance with communications and find new ways of breaking and reinventing the system.
At the base of it all, people studied in music are technical generalists and polymathic fireworks. They burn longer than any candle, fueled by insight and fascination with the world around them.