How to Fail at Typing Musicians

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:

Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-La
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 …

Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-La

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.


  1. dkog says:

    “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.'”

    REALLY? You’re going to use Dylan’s interviews as an account for WHO HE IS AS A PERSON? This is the same guy who said in one interview that he was playing his mother. He purposely says crazy stuff during interviews, because he DOESN”T CARE. He expresses himself through MUSIC. And he thinks outside the box. He has no qualms about going electric or changing his religion. He was influenced more by poets than by musicians. He is an intuitive; an INFP to be more exact.

    Zappa is an INTJ. He was a control freak like Roger Waters. How was he a sensor? He named his kids DWEEZIL and MOON UNIT. He shut himself away at home and was completely oblivious to the trends around him (meaning, he didn’t have Se as his second function).

    Reznor is an INTJ: another control-freak. He’s comfortable with having a set band, and would rather produce most of his stuff alone on a computer. He doesn’t keep up with trends. Not a sensor.

  2. Lisa says:

    This is so true! I’ve always cringed at the seemingly erroneous mistypings on internet forums. However, with that Rebecca Black bit you added at the end there, I’d like to know what you all think her type is? I haven’t watched any interviews of her seriously, but I’m wondering ISFP? And, I know, like the rest of the world, you’re fed up with the obsession over one direction, but I’d also like to know your thoughts on the typings of the rest of them? –>
    Liam Payne – ENFJ
    Louis Tomlinsn – ESFP
    Niall Horan – ISFP
    Zayn Malik – ISFP

  3. dkog says:

    Sorry, I meant to say that Reznor is UNCOMFORTABLE with having a set band.

  4. Glennawhen says:

    Another way to fail: posting in all caps.

  5. dandre says:

    Mostly I like what you write. About Bob Dylan, I tend to agree with the description of his personality but when it comes to the typing I find it confusing. According to MBTI ISFP would mean his dominant function would be Introverted Feeling, and according to Keirsey ISFP means “Artisan Temperament”. The description of Artisan Temperament seems to suit Dylan, but the description of Introverted Feeling as dominant function seem to fit Dylan poorly.
    The typing systems seems incompatible.

  6. admin says:

    MBTI/Jung and Keirsey are indeed incompatible at certain points. Ironically, just one of these points is the ISFP/INFP divide. (Keirsey finds it far more crucial than does Jung.)

    It is, then, all the more cogent when both Keirsey and MBTI adherents arrive at the same verdict for Dylan.

    Also, we find this description of Fi to fit Dylan:

    Psychological Types §640
    …they hide behind a childish or banal mask, and their temperament is inclined to melancholy. They neither shine nor reveal themselves. As they are mainly guided by their subjective feelings, their true motives generally remain hidden. Their outward demeanour is harmonious, inconspicuous, giving an impression of pleasing repose, or of sympathetic response, with no desire to affect others, to impress, influence, or change them in any way.

  7. Brandin Moghaddasi says:

    Please type Robert Smith of the Cure.

  8. dandre says:

    Thanks for response. I’ve done typing based on looking for a dominant function, and then introverted feeling didn’t seem right for Dylan. But perhaps it is in combination with sensing as a secondary function. I interpreted Dylan’s seeming carelessness “don’t think twice mentality” as indication of an extraverted attitude, but perhaps it can rather be indication of a preference of sensing over intuition.

  9. Isthmusbreaker says:

    Typing prog rockers would be cool (saw the Pink Floyd already)

    I’m thinking:

    Peter Gabriel (Genesis, Solo-career): Based on the few interviews I’ve seen, he admits to be very shy as a youth, to the point that he would not perform in public initially due to stage fright. He seems like an IF at the very least- I suspect INFP personally.

    Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator, Solo career): I’m not sure. He seems very intense, and admits to being rather obsessive. Not entirely sure- though I have my hunches.

  10. jungster says:

    As Wikipedia notes, “In January 1961, [Bob Dylan] traveled to New York City, hoping to perform there and visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie, who was seriously ill with Huntington’s Disease. … Guthrie had been a revelation to Dylan and was the biggest influence on his early performances. Describing Guthrie’s impact on him, Dylan later wrote: ‘The songs themselves had the infinite sweep of humanity in them … [He] was the true voice of the American spirit. I said to myself I was going to be Guthrie’s greatest disciple.'”

    Yup. That Dylan guy “never cared about” the meaning behind his songs.

    And Zappa? Woo. Total S.

    I’d say “How to Fail at Typing Musicians” was an excellent title for this article, but not for the reason intended.

    Mr. Velasquez: Time to hang up your MBTI-typin’ shoes.

  11. Desmond says:

    Perhaps Ric had erred on that point about Dylan, but I think you’re being unduly harsh here, jungster. It’s quite all right to critique others’ assessments, but there’s no need to be snide. :)

  12. admin says:

    FWIW the part about Dylan was there but we inserted the quote during the editing.
    Do give us your proposed types for Dylan and Zappa then, Jungster. Because we agree with Velasquez.

  13. Glennawhen says:

    Spanish boots of Spanish leather meant that he wanted Spanish boots of Spanish leather. Nothing more. Bob Dylan wrote and wrote and wrote, yes he did. But have you all not watch the documentaries from the 1960s? For example a reporter asked him if a hard rain gonna fall meant acid rain, Dylan said no… it meant a hard rain is going to fall. No meaning behind the goddam words. In this song we are lucky to get inside Bods brain and know exactly how he feels, so give the fucking boots a rest. What I question is if he ever got the boots? Or if Suze didn’t want to be a “string on his guitar” at all and didn’t send them. But yeah point is, give Bob a break his heart was broken and all he wanted was some boots of Spanish leather.

  14. Suzy says:

    J.R.R Tolkien please. INFP? I’m interested in your expert opinion.

  15. Debaser says:

    The idea that Bob Dylan is a sensor is completely and utterly ridiculous. It has to be the most absurd typing on a site full of absurd typings. First of all, you cannot type other people based on Cognitive Functions. The entire methodology you attempt to use for typing is fundamentally flawed. Cognitive functions are not behaviors, they are theoretical symbols designed to explain potential motivations for behavior. They are not things which can be detected from observation alone, and they are not to be taken dogmatically and literally. Trying to do so will end up causing you to make ridiculous claims like that Bob Dylan is a sensor. The most important question to ask when typing someone is simply: If they took the MBTI test, how would they score? I absolutely guarantee you that Bob Dylan would not only score as an N, he would be an extreme N. It wouldn’t even be close. Typing is pointless and inaccurate when you try to force someone into a box with this “Se,” “Fi,” “shadow types,” “dominant,” “inferior” bullshit. It’s bullshit. Oh, it has its place, but that comes after you outline the basic type, not as a means of typing on its own. Because the reality is that anybody of any type can SAY anything or do anything at any given time, but that doesn’t “prove” they use a certain function. The one thing you are right about is that it is about looking at whether one would expect MORE or LESS of a certain behavior, but I really fail to see how you think you can take a couple interview quotes out of context from Bob Dylan, a man infamous for trolling interviewers and being weird for the sake of it, and think that somehow means he is MORE S than N, in spite of everything else which overwhelmingly indicates the opposite. If I said I enjoy doing fun things in the moment, that doesn’t make me a damn “Se” user. If I am able to recall a specific detail about something in the past, that doesn’t automatically make me an “Si” user. If I ever consider other people, that doesn’t make me an “Fe” user. If I use logical deduction, that doesn’t make me a “Ti” user. You are taking the functions far too literally and are doing the entire thing backwards, not to mention inconsistently. As for Bob Dylan, he is just obviously an N. In fact that is the letter I am most certain of for him.

  16. admin says:

    Learn to express yourself more soberly if you want to be taken seriously.

    1: You say the typing is ridiculous. It is no more ridiculous than a man (Keirsey) with a Ph.D. in psychology, using a completely different method than we did, arrived at the same assessment.
    2: Your argument is that cognitive functions are not behavior. Well, we *pioneered* that argument. You are preaching to the choir. You’re like a man trying to sell an iPhone to Steve Jobs.
    3: You are huffing and puffing, but you don’t actually provide a single argument besides the fact that you feel that Bob Dylan is an N. People like you are what is wrong with the world.
    4: You say that we try to force someone into a box with shadow types. We have never used any such notions, in fact, we have argued against them. You are a blight on the community.
    5: Finally, we have never used the functions behavioristically in the way you describe. And we don’t think Si is especially occupied with the past. You are taking some amateur understanding of the functions that you’ve read on other sites and then assuming that it also applies to ours. In fact, you just assume a lot of things and that’s your only contribution to this site. Go away.

  17. Debaser says:

    Do you realize the irony of saying things like “People are you are what is wrong with the world” when trying to make some kind of point about rational argument and avoiding personal attacks? Jesus Christ, talk about a disproportionate response. Guess what? Your site is public. I am free to criticize it. If you can’t take criticism, that’s your problem. Now, to address your points:

    1. Appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. I don’t care if Keirsey has a PhD or is the reincarnation of Albert Einstein. That is meaningless to me. And somehow, I doubt his typing had absolutely no influence on you reaching the same conclusion.

    2. Yeah, of course, you pioneered that argument. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but “pioneer” typically implies you were the first to do it. You were not. You are not as important as you think you are. My points about the functions were, admittedly, more broadly aimed at a general method of typing, but it still applies to what you said because your entire argument seems to rest on the idea that Dylan “uses” Se. What? How? Why? Again, because of some meaningless, lousy interview quote you took out of context? You clearly form your conclusions first, find supporting evidence second, no matter what you have to do to find it, and no matter how contradictory or inconsistent it is with more important aspects of behavior.

    3. As I said,your methodology is fundamentally flawed. You look at tiny, arbitrary, irrelevant things that anyone could say instead of looking at the big picture and overall patterns. Again, it’s about predicting how a person would score. Do you honestly believe that:

    A. Songs like “Desolation Row,” “Gates of Eden,” and “Ballad of a Thin Man,” just for a few examples, have no intended deeper meaning?

    B. That the author of these songs, which make EXTENSIVE use of heavily abstract, symbolic, metaphorical, figurative language, is a personality who prefers the literal over the figurative, specific over the abstract, the shallow over the deep? Might as well say Shakespeare is an S too if your typing is to be that inconsistent and arbitrary.

    Moreover, Dylan has NEVER been an excellent technical musician, guitarist or vocalist. SP musicians tend to excel in these areas of the field. Dylan, however, has has ALWAYS excelled at the songwriting, composing process and has always shown a distinct preference for and superiroity at it. These are more indicative of an N type musician like Roger Waters.

    The themes of Dylan’s work also strongly suggest an N type personality. From his early work like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” he has always been a future-oriented visionary who writes about the patterns he perceives. As his career developed and his work became more abstract and symbolic, this reputation furthered and became even more obvious. Do you really believe an S type wrote something like “Visions of Johanna?” I’m not saying it is impossible for an S type to be a good writer, I’m just saying they tend to specialize in more conventional areas with more conventional language and conventional themes. Dylan broke barriers and “didn’t look back.” He was always eager to move on to the next thing, be it his early adoption of electric music while more conventional folk musicians balked or whatever. He always saw the future potential in everything, and never just accepted it for what it is or was. I also recall seeing a scene in a documentary film in which he saw a roadsign and came up with dozens of different ways to rephrase the sign on the spot, which sure sounds like “Ne” to me. Also, listen to the song “Maggie’s Farm.” Assuming you are not foolish enough to believe it is actually about a farm, you might get what I am talking about.

    Believe me when I say that few are bigger fans of Mr. Dylan than I, so I was just utterly shocked at this ludicrous typing which is not consistent with his life, work or reality. He is clearly an N. And then the fact that you actually used a quote from an INTERVIEW with Dylan just proved you have no clue what you are talking about, because Dylan’s interviews are infamous for a reason. He very much acts like an NP type in them as well for that matter, not an SP.

    4. You say this, but the fact that you have typed someone like Kanye West as an ISFJ is just so puzzling that I naturally assumed otherwise. The alternative explanations are unthinkable.

    5. Sure I have, because, again, your own use of the functions seems to be remarkably similar and just as amateurish at any rate, either that or you are just wrong. I realize the difficulty of accurately typing so many different people. I understand that. But if you are going to attempt to do so, please make sure you know the basic facts about a person before trying. And then don’t get so defensive when people who know more about the subjects of your typings call you on it. I realize I may have sounded excessively harsh and I was perhaps a bit unfair. But the idea that Dylan would take an MBTI test and check a box saying he prefers the concrete over the abstract, and the idea that you used such obviously narrow-sighted and biased methods of reinforcing this idea, is insane.

  18. Debaser says:

    And don’t even get me started on “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” If the Dylan quote you cited as the basis for your ISFP argument is true, that means that song is about precipitation as opposed to nuclear war. The fact that it was written during the Cuban Missile Crisis and speaks prophetically and heavily about daunting themes of Armageddon is mere coincidence. You want to argue Dylan is ISFP? You better come up with something better than that quote, because it doesn’t cut it. Hell, you contradict things like JFK saying he is an introvert or Jung saying he is an INTP. I have no idea why you seem to think a single quote from an infamous interview troll should be clung to religiously and proves something about his type. Clearly you have found it possible to disregard your subjects’ words before, even when they were being serious, every other aspect of their lives didn’t contradict and outweigh it, and even if they invented the system you are using to type them.

  19. admin says:

    Again you huff and puff but fail to produce anything but mostly attitude.

    You make a whole host of unfounded claims with extreme certainly and a haughty, devaluative attitude. And then you cry when you are kicked in the nuts for it.

    We never said you couldn’t criticize, we said you should express yourself more soberly if you want to do it on this site.

    What substantial arguments we can find in your post we will address:

    (1) Appeal to authority is a pretty poor argument for why something is the case, but it is nevertheless better than your back alley blowhard ad hominem. Also, we disagree with Keirsey in lots of places on the site. You have really not studied the object that you are criticizing if you have not noticed that. But then again, you yourself admit that you only have a suspicion to go by. Who needs data, right? Well, we do.

    (1.1) Also, on the topic of reasoning properly, don’t you know that when someone keeps spamming his own adjectives into his reasoning (as anything you think is “clearly” or “obviously” the case and anything you don’t agree with is ludicrous) is the converse of actually arguing your case.

    (2) You say: “I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but “pioneer” typically implies you were the first to do it. You were not.”

    We say: So who did it before us? Lay off the attitude and back up your claims.

    (3) You say: “your methodology is fundamentally flawed. You look at tiny, arbitrary, irrelevant things that anyone could say instead of looking at the big picture and overall patterns.”

    We argue a broader claim with more marginal pieces of evidence. Singular instances, to be more precise. This is the same method that Jung and von Franz used. Sometimes people ask us (soberly) about something and if we have the time, we flesh out the claim even more, with more examples and other research.

    Basically, looking at the “big picture” without using any concrete examples to bridge the gap between your assessment and the real world is a very thankful method. As long as you can avoid really drilling down and focusing, things can look very different from what they really are. That’s the method favored by conspiracy theorists everywhere.

    (4) You say that S types “prefer the shallow over the deep.” This would indicate that you don’t understand much about Jungian typology.

    (5) You ask us if a number of Dylan’s songs have an intended “deeper meaning.” Our answer is that they may or may not have, but even if they do, that could actually just as well indicate ISFP over INFP in that particular order. We have a classical Jungian perspective on that here:

    And an in-depth psychological perspective on it here:

    You seem to be entirely unaware of both of these perspectives.

    (6) You talk in a lot of internet generalities about how N is different from S. Much of it is biased and/or wrong and you don’t seem to understand that S types also have an N function.

    If you actually want to discuss what type Dylan is (as opposed to slinging attitude) you should go and assess him and come back with your proposed type for him.

    (7) Kanye ISFJ: Or it could be that there is a glaring axiom regarding psychometrics that the online community doesn’t know about because it doesn’t read books and that half the people typing him as an Fi type don’t know a single psychometric concept beyond MBTI. But of course, that’s just a possibility.

    (8) “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” was demonstrably written prior to Dylan knowing anything about the missiles. Are you suggesting that N somehow implies ESP?

    And as for its meaning, guess who said: “No, it’s not atomic rain, it’s just a hard rain. It isn’t the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that’s just gotta happen.”

    (9) Again, you seem ignorant of the fact that we’ve dedicated an entire article to Dylan here:
    Why don’t you determine what type you think Dylan is and write your own piece? We’ll be sure to read it.

    Finally, you agree that you came on as a blowhard but you still fling adjectives such as ludicrous that make it a bother to discuss with you and reply to your points. Look around the site: When people critique us soberly, we always reply soberly. But our patience with internet blowhards (who don’t even do their research) is unfortunately limited.

  20. dibafe says:

    Not sure whether this is the place to ask this, but anyway, why don’t you also type classical composers?

    There must have been also some important Sensors amongst them(I believe Mozart might be one of them, also possibly Vivaldi and Verdi), and this would probably remove some of the “bias againt Sensation”.

    This would also shed new light on some types not traditionally associated with art. For example, I believe both Beethoven and Prokofiev to have been INTJ.

  21. admin says:

    We want to work on Beethoven, Wagner, and Bach. It’s hard because it’s outside our usual sphere of competence. We want to get it right.

  22. dibafe says:

    Nice. Will you be using their compositions to get an idea of their type, or you’ll only use their biographies?

  23. admin says:

    While we are great lovers of classical and baroque music, we are not competent enough to attempt an analysis on the basic of the music. What we meant in the previous comment is that there is a whole literature of legends and anecdotes surrounding Beethoven, Bach, etc. and – unlike with intellectual history – we don’t know how to weigh the sources. But we’ll find out.

  24. dibafe says:

    Are you interested also in typing non-Western, but pretty famous musicians? (e.g. Ravi Shankar, father of Norah Jones)

  25. admin says:

    Yes but is there English-language material with them?

  26. dkog says:

    Didn’t you guys already type Beethoven amd Wagner as INTJs in one of your articles? Strange that there weren’t any profile pages to follow up on that.

    Mozart seemed like an ENTP to me.

  27. admin says:

    No. A visitor conjectured Beethoven as INTJ and Wagner as ENTJ. We are still working on them. Thanks for the Mozart suggestion.

  28. Axel Nilsson says:

    If you look at Dylan’s life you’ll see that he does actually care about the meaning of many of a number of his songs.

    His albums during his christian stint were overtly moralizing and preachy for instance. Though I think what you are saying is true for a majority of his works anyway. Still some of the arguments in your article are a bit cheap, but that may be necessary due to the subject matter I guess.

    “I just write them. There isn’t any big message.”

    ^He says so because he wants to be seen a musician, resenting the notion of being restricted by causes.
    He has also said that he wakes up a different person every morning. That’s definitely an ISFP thing and not an INFP one.

    One should also take note of the word “big” in the quote above. He uses an abundance of messages, I’m quite sure he wouldn’t make use of any which are in direct opposition to his own morals; nonetheless, they are isolated (Se), failing to form a “big”-picture.

  29. Axel Nilsson says:

    Debaser you fucking suck. Please stfu about matters where you are biased to the point of blindness. It is evident from your posts that you are not even willing to entertain the thought of being mistaken. Ugh. Blergh. Gah.

  30. Axel Nilsson says:

    Another strong indicator of S is his general distaste of arguing. He only does it when he feels he has to in order to ward of misunderstandings. That’s extremely indicative of ISFP>INFP. INFPs while introverted are still comfortable using the abstract sphere in formal conversation. Look at Thom Yorke interviews, compare them to Dylan interviews. Shit becomes evident.

  31. JB says:

    Why all the slinging of slurs? And by an admin? That is fucking pathetic. I agree with a lot of points made by both parties but its ridiculous to see such disrespect to debaser simply because he was expressing his opinion. My interest and regard for this site has definitely fallen a couple of notches

  32. admin says:

    Out of our 500+ engagements with visitors you can find maybe… one other instance of us hurling abuse back at a user. It is possible that the user in question behaved acceptably in this particular thread, but he was bad news from the moment he set foot on the site, hurling personal insults and whatnot. Let’s just say we’re both better off in separation.

  33. Andrea says:

    Another one who believes that every successful musician must be ISFP. Good Lord help me.

  34. admin says:

    If you have to put words in the author’s mouth to find confirmation for your point, that probably means that your point is wrong.

  35. Greg says:

    On an unrelated note, have you tried typing Tom Petty?

  36. Heh says:

    I’m ISTP, I would definately name my kid Moon Unit. Or maybe Moon Moon.

  37. ptypes says:

    I would say the MBTI to Big 5 correlations sort of support this bias

    “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.”

    because the Big 5 measures things in terms of having more or less of a dimension, rather than in terms of preferring opposites.

    Albeit, I’m not sure that’s really misplaced, as I think there are many reasons the actual function of sensation and the function of intuition may *both* be contributed positively to the development of by the Openness to Experience dimension. It includes sensory experience certainly.

    Openness is definitely the kind of thing where you either have more or it or less – in that sense, the S side is pretty much just “less” Openness.

    You kind of see this readily in action too – I don’t think by any stretch that Jung’s “inferior functions,” whatever they were, were literally, on a skill level, necessarily inferior to most people who employ those functions. I am pretty sure Jung was very high in Openness, and this contributed to him having a vast number of experiences and thus immersing himself thoroughly in the different modes of consciousness (4 functions) – going where most don’t go.

    However, implicitly examining his ego for superior/inferior relations to the 4 can fruitfully lead to some kind of rough diagnosis of what defined him most.

    Someone with very high Openness, may, for instance, be more inclined to develop his/her inferior function(s) to experience their psyches and transcend ordinary experience to the fullest (Openness frequently negates conventionality and limitation).

  38. ptypes says:

    I should note for clarity that when I say S, I mean the MBTI instrument’s S, not the sensation function. The two are hardly identifiable as equals, albeit certainly have some key relations.

    Whereas in the article, S is code for the sensation function. I think it’s good to note where the “bias” comes from – the MBTI instrument is not measuring how much someone has sensation the function developed or prioritized. It’s instead measuring those psychological factors which result in a statistically consistent response of S over N in the dichotomies. And conventionality appears to be a major contributor it uncovers.

    In reality, the functions aren’t dichotomies strictly, albeit there do exist dichotomous forces in the psyche which lead to prioritizing certain principles of navigating consciousness more than others. In other words, nobody can say, skillwise, just how developed a feeling type’s thinking function gets. A multitude of forces contribute to the development of a function, and those limited personality factors which converge in both influencing development of one function positively and its opposite negatively are just a fraction of this multitude.

  39. awesomeEllefant says:

    Rebecca Black is an obvious INTJ

    If you can’t see the deep spiritual Buddhist themes in the song lyrics you posted then you must be crazy. It’s a song about time itself and the perfect nothingness of everythingness. Personified. And it makes an important statement about our society and it’s scientific relationship with Fridays. Duh.



    Now that’s how you mistype musicians.

  40. Scoop says:

    I read that admins were pondering over classical musicians and wanted to know if any progress was made.

    I looked into J.S Bach a while back and I think he could be an ISTJ. Would be awesome if you guys look into it… :)

  41. Gabriel says:

    I sure don’t think Bach is an ISTJ. Unfortunately, that reading sort of makes sense because of the stories of his persnicketiness and outbursts of temper, but I think that is consistent with many different personality types: everyone has something that makes them frustrated enough to lose their temper. The machinelike way people play his music would also be consistent with some kind of stereotype of what an ISTJ might be like, but I think that’s just an unfortunate mistake: his music is not machinelike and shouldn’t be played that way.

  42. admin says:

    That’s interesting, though didn’t even Bach’s own contemporaries find his music a bit stiff and rigid? Also, if you don’t qualify your opinion more, it could easily read as anti-S bias…(?) /Ryan

  43. Scoop says:

    My research was hardly thorough but some facets of Bach seemed like Si-Te like to me – hardwork, perfecting existing styles etc. He is also described as meticulous, he is quoted as saying, “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is industrious will succeed equally well.” If I am getting the meaning of it correctly he is discarding personal talent in favor of hardwork if one is to succeed. A very ISTJ thing to say… Doesn’t sound like INTJ to me… Just saying :p

  44. Gabriel says:

    Ryan: Yeah, it kind of looks like anti-S (or anti-ISTJ) bias, but I was giving what I think is people’s impression of what Bach was like and why it might seem ISTJ-ish. Really, I don’t know if an ISTJ Baroque composer would sound machinelike, and maybe I was responding to an argument that nobody is making. I guess what I really think is that Bach does not seem like a T type to me.

    As for stiffness and rigidity, I don’t think it has anything to do with the rhythm of Bach’s music in contrast to other Baroque composers, but rather that he was still composing in complex counterpoint (several simultaneous melodies in harmony). Counterpoint was stiff and rigid in two ways: it was an old technique that most people were giving up in favor of simple melody and harmony, and it is a technique that requires a lot of practice and many rules, or you end up having dissonance between notes in the various simultaneous melodies. So maybe Bach was seen as stiff and rigid for sticking to the compositional technique of a hundred years ago, or his music sounds stiff because it’s so rules-based. Either way, it has nothing to do with his music being machinelike or unemotional.

    Maybe this answer opens a whole nother can of worms in my quest to prove Bach isn’t ISTJ, but there you go! :P

  45. Gabriel says:

    Scoop: Well, I sure hope industriousness isn’t a purely ISTJ trait, because then I will fail. XD Bach was being quite honest when he said he had to be industrious. His only marketable skill was music, and he had to compose and play a lot of music to feed his large family. Either that, or they starve or live on charity.

    As for the other half, I think he was being an encouraging teacher. Talent isn’t always visible at the beginning (except in cases like Mozart), and you can’t say, “Hey, you’ll never be as great a composer as me, but you should try hard anyway!” And Bach didn’t have an inflated view of himself. Not everybody liked his music, and he wasn’t considered the greatest composer in history yet.

    I certainly don’t think he was an INTJ. He doesn’t have quite the triumphant spirit of Atlas Shrugged or Beethoven’s Fifth.

  46. admin says:

    Gabriel: I’m not sure he was ISTJ either, but then, you weren’t replying to me. :)
    I think, beyond the “changing fashions” argument, Bach still had a tendency to compose in mechanical/machine-like ways which nevertheless enabled the music to express emotions of an otherworldly quality.
    And this, too, was noted by his contemporaries. I’ve read at least one source who found the music unnatural and overly hands-on, treating the musician as, well, an instrument or – a machine.
    But who knows – his contemporaries were often wrong about him nonetheless. I’d be interesting to hear examples of the non-mechanical Bach you’ve detected, if any such exist. :) /R

  47. awesomeEllefant says:

    If he was really mechanical and machine like he was probably ESFJ. FJ types are robots without real feelings :) ITJs cry at romantic movies and actually have very deep obsessive emotions.

    Typology Super Expert #1

  48. Gabriel says:

    Ryan: One example that I listened to fairly recently pops to mind: Bach’s Sinfonia in G minor played by Robert Hill, available on YouTube. Glenn Gould plays it with a very strict rhythm, following the note values pretty exactly, but Hill varies the rhythm a lot to emphasize notes and separate phrases, so his rendition has more emotion. Monica Huggett and Bradley Brookshire playing Bach’s sonata in A major is another example. I suspect Bach would have done something similar. The Sinfonias are probably a premier example of mechanical composing, because Bach is just repeating a motif over and over throughout each of them. Yet there’s still emotion, and they sound better played with more flexible rhythm.

    I think other examples of mechanical composing are inversion and augmentation (flipping the contour of a melody and doubling note values), which I encountered in some of Bach’s fugues. I remember in music history class that those techniques were used by a Renaissance composer. They were probably not popular in Bach’s day and they seem like ways to show off your compositional ability rather than create beautiful music, but the fugues sound fine despite that.

    The thing that sticks in my mind about Bach is that he said in his introduction to the Inventions and Sinfonias that the person practicing them should develop a cantabile (singing) style, and other people said that Bach played in that way. That suggests to me that he might add “breathing” breaks, or pauses, to distinguish phrases, much in the way that singers have to insert pauses, or they’ll run out of breath, and that he might vary rhythm to make things sound more natural. Of course, that’s just one way “singing” can be interpreted.

    Ellefant: So I’m a robot? That makes me laugh a lot. XD But I don’t dispute that ITJs have feelings. After all, I mentioned Beethoven, who I think was INTJ. His music is emotional, but in a different way than Bach. I suppose FJ types don’t have real feelings if Fi is defined as “real feelings”. But then we do if Fe is readmitted to the category of “feelings”. I disagree about my robothood, but still I would agree that Bach is an FJ type.

  49. Scoop says:


    Interesting, I am still mostly sure of Si for Bach though, but I can see your point of him being FJ. Combining the ideas that he probably was introverted, an Si type and FJ, I think we can see why he could be ISFJ. What do you say?

  50. admin says:

    I’ll take a listen. :)

  51. awesomeEllefant says:

    Boooooring. Check out Aimee Mann instead – real music :)

  52. awesomeEllefant says:

    There’s no need for so much discussion about bark. Unless you’re a scientist, there’s only so much you need to know about trees…

  53. Gabriel says:

    Ellefant: Okay, I s’pose you’re still trying to be funny, but this is getting insulting. I care about Bach and love his music. If bark and trees are a metaphor for Bach, well, I’m not a musicologist but I still want to know a lot about Bach, so your “argument” is flawed. (Or perhaps you are British, Australian, or Kiwi, and bark rhymes with Bach. It doesn’t for me; I’m American, and I use the German ach-Laut.) I’m sure Aimee Mann is great, but I’m not very interested in that type of music, sorry.

  54. awesomeEllefant says:

    Well I AM a musicologist and I say Bach sounds like bark. And that’s sadly the most interesting thing about him. His music is duuuuullll. Why do you think most normal people would rather listen to Miley Cyrus? Oh yeah, because she actually has some good songs, while all of his sound like a typewriter being thrown down stairs for half an hour. :D

    You probably think Bach was better than Paloma Faith and Radiohead too, and that the moon is made of cheese. :D

  55. hannah_s says:


    It’s possible to like/appreciate both Bach and Aimee Mann, Paloma Faith, Radiohead etc. – they are all great at their given genres/styles. Why does there have to be a competition about which is better? :)

  56. awesomeEllefant says:


    Lol even you prefer Coldplay, Paloma etc. and don’t like much classical music, so if you were being honest you’d have to say modern music is better too!

    I don’t think it’s even a controversial thing really – it’s an obvious fact that modern music is more attractive to humans than classical. Just look at record sales! :D

  57. hannah_s says:


    Well yes, I have my personal preferences, you have yours, Gabriel has his, EVERYONE does. But I don’t think just because more people prefer the color purple to the color brown it’s therefore a better color. :)

    If a girl decides to go out dressed in a shirt that she loves but nobody else likes, does that mean she is doing something wrong? If a man really enjoys a certain horror movie that was trashed by the critics and audiences alike, does that mean he is wrong to like it, or that it makes it less special to him? :)

    These kinds of discussions/debates never lead anywhere, because what really matters is the affection an individual feels towards a work of art, not the artwork’s real, scientifically quantifiable value (if such a thing can exist). :)

  58. Scratch says:

    And here I thought the polite thing to do was not noticing the elephant in the room. Although I guess it might just be too awesome to ignore.

  59. awesomeEllefant says:

    Hilarious. Absolutely ill hairy ass.

  60. rachelw says:

    I have to agree with Ellefant really. She makes some good points. Hannah’s response is also good. I think they’re both right in their own ways.

    Modern music is objectively better than classical. Either that or all music is equally worthless objectively. But that doesn’t matter a bit if you happen to enjoy old music – listen to whatever you want!

  61. Gabriel says:

    I’m back.

    Ellefant: So, Bach is shit because his music isn’t a bestseller today, and because you’re a musicologist and that makes you an expert on musical appreciation? Many different types of music have been “bestsellers” in different places at different times in history, and there is no reason why people in western countries at our time in history should somehow be the ultimate authorities on what music is good. I have actually played Bach and enjoy his music in certain ways. That’s enough for me.

  62. awesomeEllefant says:

    Well if you like him he must be superamazing. Case closed.

  63. Scoop says:

    I am unsure if this is playful teasing or actual friction :S

  64. awesomeEllefant says:

    Actually try listening to Bach and decide for yourself :D

  65. Scoop says:


  66. Gabriel says:

    Scoop: Yes, there is actual friction here.

    Ellefant: First you say I’m a robot. I laughed because it was utterly ridiculous. I’m not a robot; I have actual feelings. Then you say Bach is shit and I’m an idiot for liking him. Your remarks are hurtful and I’m not interested in listening to you, because you’re just being a typical jerk in a comment section. I’m sure you’re a great person in real life, but it’s not coming through in what you’re saying here, despite all the smiley faces you’re using.

    I’m not interested in listening to Bach played on underwear.

  67. admin says:

    Let’s just end this discussion on Bach here. Gabriel, you might find more of what you’re looking for here:

  68. awesomeEllefant says:


    I’m sorry, I never thought you’d get so upset. Like Hannah says, everyone loves what they love and that’s great. We can’t all like the same things :)

    I never called you a robot by the way. And why is that an insult? I’d love to be a bionic supervillain! :D

    Anyway, sorry again.

  69. Gabriel says:

    Ellefant: Well, I appreciate and accept the apology, and I’m glad you weren’t trying to hurt me. I’m pretty sensitive about Bach because his music is important to me. I’d be sad if you didn’t like any music by Bach at all (some of his concertos are probably the most enjoyable pieces), but I’ve got to live with the likelihood that that’s true of someone. Bach’s music is just not going to appeal as much to every type of person.

    You’re right, you didn’t exactly direct it at me, but I am an FJ type and you said they were robots. I guess it could be cool to be a robot with superhuman powers. ^.^ But I was thinking of the android and Borg characters in Star Trek that have trouble relating to people, and I’d rather not have that type of impediment. I already have difficulty because of things like my interest in Bach. So after I laughed, it was kind of painful.

    I’ll take a look at the other article on Bach, and put any further discussion on Bach there.

  70. Jun says:

    Interesting! This is very late in the discussion, (and also I do not trust my knowledge of MBTI at all) but Bach as a sensor would make a lot of sense to me. I agree with the article that one cannot type a musician by their music. However, as a classical pianist, I would argue that the simplest and easiest way to gain mastery of the piano is to work ones way up through the music of Bach (beginning with Anna Magdelena’s Notebook, to the inventions, then to the sinfonias, then to Well Tempered Clavier). His keyboard music, particularly the pieces he used for teaching listed above, shows an incredible mastery of the physical side of playing a keyboard; the motions that commonly pose difficulties, the separation of hands etc. At the same time, his music also teaches musicality and the mental skills needed as a pianist. In comparison, one could work up through the piano music of say, Shostakovich (I chose him because I have studied his life a lot, and am fairly certain he is an intuitive dominant), and work through his Children’s Notebook and 24 Preludes and Fugues (haha, a huge leap in both mental and physical technique I know, but compatible in a way to Bach’s Anna Magdelena’s Notebook and WTC) and although I am sure it would yield huge growth in terms of mental and musical growth, Shostakovich’s music is simply so physically impractical as a pianist, I am not sure how much pianistic technique could be gained from this approach. Whereas the physical skills learned in Bach’s keyboard music are applicable to basically all keyboard music, the physical skills required in Shostakovich’s music are more a reflection of mental organization, and almost apply to a world of their own, not easily transferable to other composers and styles. This is in no means meant to downgrade the extreme mental wealth of Bach or the pianistic skills of Shostakovich (who was a virtuosic pianist himself), but merely to say that Bach had, I think, an extremely good understanding of the physical aspects of the keyboard and keyboardist. Haha, again though, I am not very knowledgable in MBTI, and I agree that music is not a good precursor of type. Also, particularly in some of Bach’s more advanced keyboard works not meant for teaching, he clearly ignores the physical aspects of the keyboard player (and sometimes even arguably the sound of available keyboard instruments in his era).

  71. Milou says:

    (Sorry for the incorrectnesses in grammar)

    I’d like you to tell me more about Jim Morrison being an INFP. Would you tell me how did you get into this result? I’m also sorry to raise up the old “ISFP or INFP” discussion (or battle..). I obviously see Jim Morrison more as an ISFP than INFP but I’m not an expert so how did you type him out? And, yes, I’m an ISFP myself.

    (And what comes to Bob Dylan I can tell you that he could believe everything he has written in his songs and still be an ISFP, what I mean is that he could have real meaning there. We have opinions too, you know. We probably wouldn’t advertise them with a megaphone in the streets but perhaps write them down, or tell someone close to us.)

Leave a Reply