Musician Programmers

Hey all!

I graduated with a B.A. in Music (classical guitar) but have been focusing on programming the last year and a half or so. My experience has been that practicing music and practicing programming are similar in many ways. In particular, the act of writing a program and composing a piece/song. I think my years of experience being locked in a practice room hacking away at Bach pieces and such has carried over into my ability to practice programming. I’m curious if any of you are musicians and if so, do you feel like you’ve had a similar carryover between music practice and programming practice.



If you are interested in working with programming and music together, this is a really amazing video by someone at spotify:
It’s funny, interesting, and not language specific.


You should check out TOPLAP and come join us in the world of algorithmic music

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Thanks guys. These links are great!

You should check out Sonic PI.


I have been a musician since I was 15 years old and do think there is definitely a connection. Perhaps the ability to break something down into smaller pieces and putting them together. I also used to love playing with Legos and I think that helped a lot with both music and programming lol.

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I think that when you’re good at anything, you’ll be able to find connections and analogies to just about anything else. It’s only natural, as humans tend to learn new things in terms of what we already understand. There’s very likely a connection between childhood creative development and later skill building (link), but I’d wager that it’s a one way street. That is, learning music at a young age would be a benefit to programming later on, but learning to program wouldn’t have the same effect on music. It’s not so much that there are similarities between programming and music as it is that music is brain exercise and confidence building.

Incidentally, it’s quite common for programmers to pick up an instrument like the guitar to help fight off RSI. Ironically, I had to stop playing because of RSI, but it wasn’t caused by programming or music.


Oh my ! I’m not a musician but this really does sounds fun ! I might try and learn it just to get some quick beats :smiley: thanks!

In my experience, there’s a lot of overlap in these interests:

  • programming
  • music
  • martial arts
  • magic (performing – not the card game)

They are all similar in that you can never be “done” or know everything. There’s always room for improvement, and those who know the most realize how much they have left to learn, and those who know barely anything think they are amazing.

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+1 to this
Sonic Pi is a TON of fun. and you can even pick up some ruby while you’re at it

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Despite there being a plethora of audio programming languages and projects, finding resources (and trying to meet people with similar interests) on learning the black art is much, much tougher. Hopefully these tools will change all that.

I’m a musician as well and I’ve noticed the same similarities. I think composing music and composing computer programs stimulate some of the same parts of the brain.

I’m a musician, too. I think the link between music and programming lies in the mathmatical nature of both. Or you can also say the abstract nature. Both music and programming have a “mathmatical background”. I once heard that it is said that music is the most abstract form of all arts. It is not as concrete as e.g. writing or filmmaking. You can’t really see musical notes, and they don’t have a real stand-alone meaning, like words or pictures do. It is more about how you link the notes together to create something whole, a bigger picture. And in programming, you are also on an abstract level, within an own world where you link together abstract commands to create something completely, surprisingly new and different.

I know a lot of musicians who are also dealing with programming or mathmatics or similar stuff. Similar way of thinking probably. I’m also a writer and (used to be) a filmmaker. And although I like both of that too, I’m honestly enjoying music making and programming more.

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… and btw., you would be surprised how many bugs you have to spot and creatively remove when you are composing and producing music. I’m always saying: As a music producer, you have to be a doctor as well lol.

Good points actually that you also have martial arts and magic on your list. I also feel attracted by doing martial arts, but I’ve only done some gentle Tai Chi for a long time (since I’m not the most sturdy fellow lol). And while I’ve never tried doing real magic, I absolutely love Magic the Gathering lol. And Hearthstone (which is pretty addictive). And I mean you are also doing magic in these games, creatively combining the card ressources that you have. And when I used to passionately play role playing games (pen-and-paper) in my teenage times, I was always playing the wizard (while actually all the others in my group didn’t).

Maybe that’s what we really are, guys: Wizards! :smiley: Cause actually it’s damn magical what we are all doing: Typing strange commands into a keyboard (spells that we have learned), and the result is a cool website, web app or even a computer game. Pretty magical, isn’t it?

Have a nice magical weekend everyone!

Maybe we could add “dancing” to that list. I absolutely love dancing! Pretty similar to martial arts as I’ve always found, although the purpose is a different one. But not too much actually, cause in Kung Fu movies they are more dancing than fighting.

Ok, but now back to the coding work lol

I just put up a blog post about this! I find learning to code very similar to learning guitar.

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Great post! That’s exactly how I feel.

Great post! Makes me want to learn the guitar. Know any good resources?

I actually gave up on guitar and learned bass first, because I couldn’t work out how to read guitar tabs, but bass ones were usually easier and only played one string at once. After I got good at that, I eventually switched to guitar tabs (I was into metal at the time).

Believe it or not I could play complicated metal songs before I ever knew any chords! Pub sessions at folk festivals is where I started playing acoustic and learning more about chords, then I studied music at college which taught the theory stuff, which tbh I never use, but it’s interesting to learn. Watching people on YouTube helps too.

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