Written by Ric Velasquez – edited by the CT Admins for publication, and used with permission
When it comes to determining the types of musicians, one ubiquitous problem seems to be that people don’t separate the musician as a person from the music that that person has created. But if you want your typings to hold up, it is necessary to do so.
Take, for instance, somebody like Miles Davis. Here you have a guy who initiated several big stylistic changes in the world of jazz over the years. He was at the forefront of cool jazz, modal jazz, jazz fusion, avant garde jazz and more. If you compare an album like Kind Of Blue to an album like On The Corner, they’re just on completely different planets. Miles Davis was an exceptionally creative guy with a wealth of innovative ideas. So, what one might erroneously take from this is that “he’s constantly coming up with new ideas and thus must be an Ne type.” But, if you put these preconceptions aside and read interviews with Miles Davis, you find absolutely nothing in the way of Ne there whatsoever. As to his extroverted perception, Davis shows Se, not Ne, and you end up with ISTP for him.
It is the same with Bob Dylan. Keirsey has written a really good article about Bob Dylan where he points out that because people connect with Dylan’s lyrics and ascribe meanings to his songs, they assume that Dylan must be like them and must care as much about the meanings behind those songs, just like they do. Yet Dylan never cared about that stuff – he just wrote songs. As he says, when asked about the meaning of his songs: “I just write them. There isn’t any big message.” Again, the same thing happens. If you forget about his music and watch interviews with Dylan, you end up with ISFP for him.
And you see this pattern over and over again. Frank Zappa, Trent Reznor, certain famous rappers, etc. – when you ignore how creative their music or lyrics may be and you focus on considering them as people, they are clearly S types.
The point is that you have to research what the musician is like as a person. You can’t derive a person’s type from their music or their lyrics. Especially when it comes to lyrics. It seems to be another recurring theme that people attach undue importance to specific instances where an artist they like has used a metaphor and then say: “See – this person must be an N type because he used a metaphor!” The implication of their argument is that an S type would not be capable of coming up with a metaphor, simply because they’re an S type. One wonders what they think a song written by an S type would be like. Perhaps they think every song that was written by an S type would read like a redux version of Rebecca Black’s Friday:
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah Yeah-ah-ah Yeah-ah-ah Yeah-ah-ah Yeah, yeah, yeah
…Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today is-is Friday, Friday
… Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after …
The question of being metaphoric vs. being literal is not a question of black or white; it’s a question of more or less. [And the point is not here, that the more metaphorical a person is, the more Intuitive they are. The point is that everyone uses metaphors to some degree, and that lyrics, by their very nature, are prone to feature metaphors.] Do you expect lyrics written by an S type to be completely devoid of all metaphor and abstraction? And if so, do you also expect the lyrics of N types to be completely devoid of all practical and specific meaning as well? If the answer is no, then the underlying assumption here is that S and N is not a true dichotomy in its own right, but that N types are really S types with an extra layer. This assumption is clearly incorrect, in so far as the Intuitive dominant types tend to have definite problems mastering their Sensation.
So, what happens across the board is that S type musicians get mistyped as N types for all of the above reasons. Because these preconceptions prevail, people will inevitably arrive at the impression that N types make better musicians. But anybody who looks properly into the matter will find that this is simply not the case, and that there are fantastic musicians of both the N and S types.