In the music and science survey earlier this year, I asked people to “name a musisci”. More than half of the participants answered this question, and several people gave more than one answer. Some were obvious jokes (Olivia “Newton” John; Obama), others I had to check, and some wrote out their answer as a phrase instead of a name, so it took me a while to fully process. I interpreted “that guy from Queen” as “Brian May”, combined “Girl Talk” and “Gregg Gillis” as one answer, merged all the “Richard Feynman” and “Feynman” answers, split “The Brians May and Cox” into their two respective answers, fixed a few spelling mistakes, and capitalized all names.
I wasn’t able to extract a name out of every answer. I suspect “the guy who invented the Korg” might refer to Bob Moog, but I didn’t count that. I also didn’t know who “my high school biology teacher” referred to, and I even had to discount a mention of the musisci family “Herschel” because I didn’t want to blindly assume it was about William and not his sister Caroline.
Other than the Herschels, the list contains another musical sibling pair (Helen and Kat Arney), one fictional musisci (Sherlock Holmes), and four or five of the names on the list are people who took the survey themselves, but NONE of them listed themselves as musisci example!
There are still some names in this list that not everyone would consider musisci, but I asked this question to see how people would interpret the phrase, and most people used the definition of a scientist who also makes music, or a musician with strong scientific influences.
The full list is below, with the number of times that this person or band was mentioned. I noticed there are far more men than women in the list, with Helen Arney and Vi Hart the only two women that were named four or more times. Björk and Emeli Sandé were probably the most famous women on the list, but not a lot of people are aware of their science connections. Björk has collaborated with scientists on a science-themed album; Sandé has a degree in neuroscience. I don’t think there are that many more men than women who do both music and science, but the ones who are known for this (“The brians May and Cox”, Einstein) are mostly men, and dominated the list.
|Leonardo da Vinci||12|
|Johann Sebastian Bach||9|
|Hermann von Helmholtz||2|
|A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada||1|
|Claire L. Evans||1|
|Joel Thomas Zimmerman||1|
|Johan Gotthardt Olsen||1|
|King Henry 8th||1|
|Loren L. Zachary||1|
|Marcus du Sautoy||1|
|Nicole Frances Galtie||1|
|Robert W Levenson||1|
|The Band 311||1|