When we mention the word ‘ intelligence’ the first thought that comes to mind is that related to academics. But, every child is different and can show an interest in a variety of fields like art, music, and math, and excel at it.
A child who does not show interest in language, for example, might have great ability in the field of mathematics. A child who finds math uninteresting may have a flair for music, or in other words, have high musical intelligence.
Musical intelligence is the ability to process and produce music. It is a cognitive ability often associated with creativity, emotion, and social development.
Musical intelligence is not a single ability but rather a collection of capabilities, including pitch perception, rhythm production, memory for melodies and lyrics, musical knowledge acquisition, and musical expression.
As proposed by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, musical intelligence is a part of multiple intelligences. Gardner theorizes that people do not have just an intellectual capacity but have many kinds of intelligence, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligence.
People with high musical intelligence can learn musical instruments easily and have a fine sense of rhythm. They are able to identify musical instruments distinctly and can remember notes and tunes easily. They are skilled at composing and identifying various kinds of music. Musical intelligence enables one to identify patterns distinctly.
In this post, we will navigate through the list of famous personalities with high musical intelligence who carved a name for themselves in the music industry.
Famous persons with high musical intelligence
1. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. He was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. Popularly known as the king of pop, there may not be a music lover in the world who doesn’t know his name.
Michael Jackson exhibited a high level of musical intelligence from a very early age. Jackson popularized complicated dance moves such as the moonwalk. Some of his songs are credited with breaking racial barriers and having a strong impact on the minds of people. He helped propel the success of MTV and continued to innovate with his videos.
His album, Thriller became the best-selling album of all time, while Bad was the first album to produce five U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles.
Mozart, a composer from the classical period. Born in Salzburg and showed prodigious ability from his childhood. He was competent on keyboard and violin and began composing from the age of five. He performed before European royalty. His father took him on a grand tour of Europe and then three trips to Italy. At 17, he was a musician at the Salzburg court.
Mozart was a versatile composer and wrote in every major genre, including symphony, opera, solo concert, chamber music, string quartet, string quintet, and the piano sonata. Although these forms were not new, Mozart improvised their technical sophistication and reach. He almost single-handedly developed and popularised the Classical piano concerto.
3. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is a British vocalist, songwriter, composer, bass player, poet, and painter. His association with the Beatles helped lift popular music into a creative, highly commercial art form. He is also one of the most popular solo performers of all time regarding record sales and attendance at his concerts.
A multi-instrumentalist, McCartney also played the drums on some Beatles tracks, played all the instruments on some of his solo albums, and led guitar at concerts. Usually known for ballads and love songs, McCartney also was responsible for many of the Beatles’ more challenging rock songs. He had an extraordinary gift for melodies that showed his musical intelligence.
Beethoven is widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived. Beethoven composed music in the transitional period between the Classical and the Romantic eras, and his work has been divided into roughly three periods. He composed some of the most successful pieces during the second phase. Beethoven rearranged the formal structure of the Classical symphony. Beethoven’s work elevated instrumental music to new heights. Beethoven holds an important place in the history of the piano.
Beethoven created many beautiful pieces even though he was deaf. This is the perfect example of someone who could imagine notes and rhythms without hearing them. Only a person who had a high musical intelligence can achieve this.
5. Stevie Wonder
He is an American singer and songwriter. He sang across various genres, including rhythm and blues, pop, soul, gospel, funk, and jazz. He is a multi-instrumentalist and a child prodigy. His mastery over the new generation of electronic keyboard instruments made him a pioneer and an inspiration to rock musicians.
Blind from birth and raised in inner-city Detroit, he was a skilled musician by age eight. Stevie Wonder was the recipient of numerous honors. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and in 1999 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize for lifetime achievement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
6. Sarah Chang
Sarah Chang is a Korean American classical violinist. Recognized as a child prodigy, she first played as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1989. She enrolled at Juilliard School to study music, graduated in 1999, and continued university studies.
Especially during the 1990s and early to mid-2000s, Chang had major roles as a soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras. In 1986, when Chang was 5 years old, she auditioned for and was accepted to the Juilliard School. In 1991, when Chang was 10 years old, she recorded her first album, Debut.
7. Marin Alsop
Marin Alsop is an American conductor. She is currently music director laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well as chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Ravinia Festival. In 2020 she was elected to the American Philosophical Society. She was the first woman to lead a major American orchestra.
Alsop was the daughter of musicians and studied piano and violin as a child. At a very early age she knew she wanted to be a conductor. In 2005 Alsop was named a MacArthur fellow, the first conductor to be accorded the honor, and received the Classical BRIT (British Record Industry Trust) Female Artist of the Year Award. She was the subject of the documentary The Conductor, which premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival, New York, in 2021.
Cher is an American singer, actress, and television personality. She is referred to by the media as the “Goddess of Pop.” Cher gained popularity in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher after their song “I Got You Babe” peaked at number one on the US and UK charts. Together they sold 40 million records worldwide.
Her solo career was established during the same time. She emerged as a fashion trendsetter by wearing elaborate outfits on her television shows. Cher is a dyslexic. She had difficulty in reading and could only rely on her auditory memory to help her study. However, her musical intelligence helped her achieve success in the field of music.
9. Sergei Rachmaninoff
He was destined to become an army officer until his father lost the entire family fortune through risky financial ventures and then deserted the family. Young Sergey’s cousin Aleksandr Siloti, a well-known concert pianist and conductor, sensed the boy’s abilities and sent him to Moscow for lessons.
He was believed to have been suffering from depression. One of the most legendary pianists of all time, Sergei Rachmaninoff was a leading figure in Russian music in the late Romantic era.
10. Paul Simon
American singer-songwriter who brought popularity to rock music. Simon made his own music group as a teenager along with his friends. Among songwriters of his generation, Simon enjoyed one of the longest-lasting careers as a pop innovator.
Exploring the sounds of indigenous musical cultures, from Southern gospel to Brazilian and West African percussion, he incorporated them into American rock and folk styles to create a highly flexible, personalized style of world music. Simon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Why do we even need musical intelligence?
Musical Intelligence helps musicians come up with exclusive compositions that are creative in nature. It allows them to create more content without having to spend hours practicing. It also helps them understand the music they are listening to better so they can learn from their favorite musicians and songwriters.
Studies suggest a connection between musical aptitude and linguistic abilities. It also indicated that persons with musical intelligence have better pronunciation skills, accurate chord discrimination ability, and more prominent sound-change-evoked brain activation in response to musical stimuli. Research also pointed at music having a modulatory effect on the brain’s linguistic organization and alter hemispheric functioning in those who have practiced it for long periods of time.
People with musical intelligence look for patterns in their environment and are drawn to sound. They are able to memorize phrases and words easily. They enjoy dancing and singing. They have an enhanced level of understanding of the musical structure, notes, tone, and rhythm.
They have a good rhythm and are skilled at playing several instruments. They have a keen interest in music and have the ability to remember songs easily. Musicians need the ability to create and perform music. This requires a certain level of skill in any instrument they choose. Many musicians also have an instinctual understanding of their instruments that allows them to master the technical aspects at a young age.
To wrap up, we can conclude that music has been proven to be beneficial in many ways. For example, it can reduce stress levels by lowering heart rates and blood pressure. It also helps with depression by releasing hormones called endorphins which produce feelings of happiness. People with musical intelligence seem to have a flair for linguistic skills too.
In today ever evolving and stressful world, there must be an emphasis to recognize, appreciate and practice the other types of intelligence like music which will help us to face the world with ease.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,