The secret to musical mastery: women

This post is to celebrate the lead-up to South by Southwest, one of the best music events on the planet.

billyandchristieWomen are responsible for the vast majority of music ever created. Either they were creating it themselves, or they were inspiring young men to do the same.

Most women are shocked by this revelation. “You mean all men learn to play guitar in order to increase their chance of scoring?”


“But they say it’s because it speaks to their soul.”

They’re lying.

There are two reasons why wooing the ladies is the main reason men gravitate toward musicianship. First, it works. I could go into why I think it works but it really doesn’t matter. The supporting data are overwhelming. Second, learning to play an instrument is difficult. After a few weeks, it seems like you’ll never get to any level of proficiency. Without the promise of a woman’s attention dangling out there, most men give up. Of course, the promise of a woman’s attention motivates a great deal of what we men do (working out, making money, etc.).

I’ve been a musician my whole life, and I do love music for reasons that have nothing to do with getting lucky. But those reasons came later, way after I started learning how to play. Even in 5th grade, where I changed from piano to saxophone, I did it to play an instrument that was “cooler.” This is really just a fifth-grader’s way of identifying a more girl-friendly strategy before he’s even figured out that he likes girls.

The problem is that most men fail to acknowledge the real reason why they should learn to play an instrument, even to themselves. As a result, they don’t optimize their approach to get the results they are after. This can lead to things like playing the oboe. No one ever got a date by playing the oboe. Sorry.

Men, it’s at this point that you need to look at yourselves in the mirror and be honest. Music is a wonderful, beautiful, artistic thing, but if you really want to become a good musician you need to focus on the possibility of one thing: groupies.

As in the earlier oboe-playing example, the point where most guys go astray is the point of instrument choice. If you choose a bad instrument, the ladies will ignore your efforts and you will quickly stop playing. You might even wonder why those harp lessons never stuck. But really, you were done before you started.

So to help you, I have included below a list of what I consider are the ten best instruments to woo the ladies – gathered from years of observing their effectiveness. You can play any of them, based on your personal taste and the type of women that interest you, but I wouldn’t stray too far from this list.

1. Guitar – A good guitar player is like superman, from the arena stage to the campfire. There is a reason why “Guitar Hero” is one of the most popular video games of all time.

2. Vocals – A man that can sing well can speak in ways the rest of us can’t. He also carries his instrument with him wherever he goes. The only reason he isn’t number 1 is because he doesn’t have the mystique of the guitar player (If you need to understand this dynamic better, see Cameron Crowe’s seminal movie Almost Famous).

3. Drums – The drummer is the working man of the rock band, the captain of the rhythm section. As such, even though he is further from the women in the front row than other musicians, the fact that he lays down the beats means his connection with them is more primal. Women will sometimes walk right past the lead guitarist and front man to talk to the drummer right after a show. Laying down the beat lays down the groundwork.

4. Bass Guitar / Stand-up Bass – In certain instances the man on bass can hop over the drummer, but in most cases bass guitar offers the least opportunity for expressiveness in terms of your traditional rock band instruments. But it’s still a powerful combination of rhythm and proximity to the audience. A Stand-Up Bass can earn you a little extra mojo if you work in a few full spins.

5. Piano / Keyboards – Piano is, in my opinion, the most legitimately romantic instrument behind vocals. This is why the hair bands of the 80’s, who were the least coy about their motivations for picking up instruments, would occasionally roll out a piano ballad to further their efforts (See “Something to Believe In”, Poison, 1990).

6. Saxophone – When I throw sax out there, most people think Kenny G. Stop it. This is not the sax I’m talking about. Sax is #6 for one reason, and that’s jazz. The jazz saxophone is the closest instrument to the human voice, and can nearly match its expressiveness. The weakness for the sax, as with other wind instruments, is that you cannot roll a combo with instrument+vocals. (For good sax, see Michael Brecker)

Before I go on, that’s an important note about instruments 1-5 above. Instruments like bass guitar or piano can shoot to the top of the list when paired with vocals. This is the only way a guy who looks like Billy Joel could marry Christie Brinkley (and he’s now married to 28-year-old Katie Lee – no judging, how you wield the power is your choice).

7. Trumpet – Ok, trumpet is a little bit of a stretch at #7 but I put it in not only because it’s another great jazz solo instrument, but also because it’s arguably the manliest instrument in the symphony orchestra (I know I’m reaching, but in the same room with men playing bassoon and viola, this guy is a rock star).

8. Violin / Fiddle – Violin is another cross-over instrument, because although it’s the prima donna of the symphony, it’s a great solo instrument for country/western/bluegrass/celtic. Unfortunately, fiddle-style violin just isn’t that sexy in most cases. But you can’t say Charlie Daniels didn’t considerably increase his luck every time he rolled out “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” (1979)

9. Trombone – Trombone brings it in at #9, as it too can be a powerful jazz or orchestral instrument. Though it’s a little pokier than its brass cousin the trumpet, it makes up for it a bit with deeper, manlier timbre.

10. Bagpipes – I personally think women get freaky when they hear the bagpipes. But I might be alone in this opinion. I mean, they play the bagpipes before Irish battles and at the funerals of policemen and firemen, for pete’s sake. This is a much better choice if you are looking for something non-traditional than say, the dreaded accordion.

So men, I hope my list will help you budding musicians out there in the early choices that can mean the difference between virtuosity and obscurity. And if you try them all and find that you have no musical talent whatsoever, remember that you can always grow a mustache.


4 thoughts on “The secret to musical mastery: women

  1. Ali – Thanks, great clip. And an impressive list of all the songs ever named after a girl, that must have taken them awhile.

    Cindy – Sorry to give you flashbacks. 🙂

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