PHQ | QUESTIONS: Music Type Theory and Donations

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PHQ | QUESTIONS FROM COMMUNITY: In this episode Joel and Antonia answer a question about music type theory and the idea of having a donation button on the Personality Hacker website.

In this episode Joel and Antonia answer a question about music type theory and the idea of having a donation button on the Personality Hacker website.

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Showing 39 comments
  • Erika

    Probably no one will ever read this comment, but I’ll just go ahead and write it for my own amusement 🙂

    I’m a professional musician, and music theory has always been one of my strong suits. The theory, the way it was presented in the PHQ, was almost impossible for me to understand, though. The premise of the circle of fifths having 16 parts is, simply put, wrong. In western music, the octave is divided into 12 parts (or notes/keys), and so is the circle of fifths. So the comparison to the 16 types and the 8 cognitive functions doesn’t work numbers-wise.

    That said, I realised from reading Taylor’s comments on here, that he was using music theory mainly as a metaphor to express an idea, and the details of the metaphor could be seen as secondary.
    If I understand his idea correctly, it is that motion, or maybe rather development, happens through conflict. There is a need, a deficit, a goal, or whatever one wants to call it, and this brings about movement.

    The most important teacher I had during my studies, said that music is tension and resolution.

    So one could say that the beauty of music comes from tension and resolution, tension and resolution, tension and resolution. I don’t play chess, but I would imagine that the enjoyment of it comes from solving the challenge, the problem set up by the rules of the game.

    In a similar way, personal development happens through tension, conflict, discomfort, and the willingness to work through those. The enjoyment of music comes from a willingness to be present with the tension and resolution comprised in it (and different people have different tolerance levels for tension in music).

    It has been interesting to consider these ideas and formulate my take on them, so thank you.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Erika. “Tension and Resolution.” That is a fascinating concept with multiple applications. Now I’m going to listen to music and look for that tension and resolution. I can see this as a very interesting rabbit hole. 🙂

  • Knut A. W. Jøsok

    Hi, guys fellow musician and analyst here (INTP) I think you guys might have read too much into the quote. I rather think that Robert Laughlin meant the relationship between 2 opposite forces. I totally agree that there is music involved, but I will try to explain my take on it.

    Male & Female
    Ying & Yang
    Major & Minor
    Ebony & Ivory
    Husband & Wife
    Thinkers & Feelers
    Night & Day
    Moon & Sun
    Religion & Atheism
    Attack & Defence
    Nature & Science
    Good & Bad
    Light & Dark
    Introvert & Extrovert

    All are 2 opposite poles, and one of them might seem to be dominate, but they both need each other to create harmony.

    It’s a beautiful quote and my take might be wrong, but I’d love to hear your opinions.

    • Knut A. W. Jøsok

      Thought I add a verse from a famous song by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. I think this sums up life and the quote as well.

      “Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
      Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?

      We all know that people are the same where ever you go
      There is good and bad in everyone,
      We learn to live, we learn to give
      Each other what we need to survive together alive.”

      Hope everyone has a great day/night! 🙂

  • Taylor

    **whoops, sorry, I meant to say another person saw the driver process as not the dominant P5

  • Taylor

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for digging deep into my idea and analyzing it next to the car model. I’m glad you made a reference to the modes ie Phrygian; in Plato’s Republic he discusses how different modes of the octave reflect different personality types. It was the Republic which first got me thinking about the correlation between music and personality.

    Another person posted they too saw the tonic as the Driver process, which I’ve mulled over for a few days. Your description of the tonic/dominant relationship was very nice, and, while I still hold to my viewpoint that the dominant P5 represents the driver, your phrase “The P5 is a strong guide that will always lead us home” supports this nicely, even if you intended it for another argument. There isn’t tension between P8/P1, and a great deal of tension exists between the driver process and three year old.

    The home we are searching for is the tonic (the resolution), the 3 year old process (as you also described).

    We do not seek nor long for what we already have. We own the dominant, driver process, and we lack conscious control of the inferior, 3 year old. Isn’t life’s journey about finding, integrating and understanding this 3 year old? That wonderful sense of relief of “home”, like the sense of completion (the tonic) at the end of a song, comes at the end of life.

    Again, though you meant it for a different argument, I like viewing the octave, P8, as the “go-to”, simply because I see all of humanity as slowly moving towards the completion and full circle, we’re all trying to go-to the end of the scale.

    The point of relating the circle of fifths to typology is that these intervals of fifths, when strung together, go full circle. If people are symbolically like a fifth, a dominant seeking a tonic, when “strung” together, we create a whole.

  • Jennifer K

    Music Theory as a Car Model:

    First off, I think this theory is beautiful! I’m a studied music theorist and a lover for personality types, and I can see the Car Model tucked away in this new idea!

    Before I dissect the model, I’ll give a brief (or as brief as I can make it… haha!) description on music theory as far as how it will relate.

    Music theory part 1:

    Taylor said that when you say the music key center is in C, that gives you an idea of what chords will typically be used the most and what will drive one chord to the next. The most common chords are the I, IV, and V (the “tonic,” “subdominant,” and “dominant” respectively). The V (dominant) will almost always lead us to the I (tonic), and the tonic is often considered “home.” This resolution usually creates the most sense of relief, although you’ll typically experience some form of relief any time you resolve to the tonic. The IV (subdominant) is less likely to lead to the tonic, but not uncommon nonetheless. This resolution is not as strong, but you’ll still feel like you made it “home.”

    I (tonic) = “home”
    IV (subdominant) = “not as strong”
    V (dominant) = “leads us to home base”

    Music theory part 2:

    Using these three prominent chords (I, IV, and V), we can repurpose their natural objectives by reassigning their quality. Meaning, instead of using chords as their function, we can make them either harmonic or melodic intervals. The I (tonic) interval can be an octave or a unison, and the IV and V (subdominant and dominant) can be a fourth or a fifth. When you take an octave and invert it, it becomes a unison. When you take a fourth and invert it, it becomes a fifth.

    I (tonic) = octave becomes unison/unison becomes octave
    IV (subdominant) and V (dominant) = perfect fourth becomes perfect fifth/perfect fifth becomes perfect fourth

    Music theory part 3:

    In four-part counterpoint (traditional music theory stuff), we are trained that perfect octaves and unisons are pleasant, perfect fifths are good, and perfect fourths were to be avoided. They were considered dissonant in the days of our late music ancestors. (Disclaimer: The four-part harmony rules also state that you are not to have too many parallel octaves or perfect fifths. But that’s only important if you are dying to correct me. Hehe!)

    P8 (perfect octaves/tonic) = pleasing to the ear, and usually the peak of interest
    P1 (perfect unison/tonic) = not unpleasing to the ear, but is so uniform that it is sometimes masked-sounding and is considered extremely weak. As the inversion of the octave, it’s usually the least interesting.

    P5 (perfect fifths/dominant) = pleasing to the ear, but feels unfinished (like a pause in a sentence) and therefore leads us to the tonic.
    P4 (perfect fourths/subdominant) = not unpleasing to the ear, and as the inversion of the dominant function, the tonic has a natural tendency to lead to the subdominant (according to the Circle of Fifths rule) rather than vice versa like the dominant, but it is considered very weak and will also feel unfinished.

    (So much for being brief, eh? Hehe!)

    NOW! The car model:

    The Driver: If we decide that our driver is going to be the our “go-to,” then I’d say that “home” is our driver. But which tonic is going to be our “home?” The “home” that peaks our interest? Or the “home” that is hard to find/hear because it’s weak? I’m gonna go with the former! That’s the octave! P8!

    The Co-Pilot: If we’ve decided that our driver is going to be the octave “home,” then which of the dominants will be the Co-Pilot? I like to think of the Co-Pilot as a helper for our driver. So do we want the weak P1 leading us to the Driver? Probably not. Do we want the weak P4 leading us to the Driver? It’s not the worst, but it’s not the best. Or do we want the P5 leading us to the Driver? Since that is, after all, its main function. I say, YES! P5 it is!

    The Ten-Year-Old: If the Ten-Year-Old is the exact opposite (or the inversion) of the Co-Pilot, and the P4 is the direct inversion of the P5, then I’d say this one is basically spelled out for us! Like the P4, we don’t typically run to the Ten-Year-Old process unless under certain circumstances. And also like the P4, we typically never let it drive!

    The Three-Year-Old: Welp. There’s only one left. But let’s work it out! We’ve decided that our driver is the P8. The Driver’s direct opposite and inversion is the Three-Year-Old, and like the P8, so is the unison: P1. We tend to ignore the Three-Year-Old and place little to no value in it. It’s weak to us. The P1 unison is also considered weak and often holds little to no value in music (unless you’re tuning! Hehe!).

    The P1 is the baby because we only use it when we’re tuning or playing in a beginning band. It’s rarely found in intermediate musical compositions. But it’s not to be under appreciated because it holds foundational skill. If we overlook the power of the unison and forget to practice it, the musical composition could be compromised because we’ve lost touch with our tuning/intonation.

    The P4 is also slightly immature because in music it’s typically neither an ending or a beginning. It’s never driving or co-piloting. In a standard 12-bar blues progression, you’ll find the IV chord always placed between the V and the I, or between the I and the V. But it certainly brings colour to life, and when put to practice has the potential to create beautiful tonality (shout out to my Phrygian friends!).

    The P5 is a strong guide that will always lead us home. It’s our friend and our second in command. But like our musical founders, if we ONLY fluctuate between the Driver and the Co-Pilot (or the Tonic and the Dominant), then our music/life could lack challenge and become uninteresting.

    The P8 is similar to the P1 because they are literally the same notes. However, the difference is that the P8 has two different registers and when used melodically, it creates interest and a sense of climax. Also, because it represents “home,” we can lead into it as the triumphant ending that we all desire. It’s the winner’s circle and the trophy. We’re good at it! And that’s why it’s where we want to go as the Driver. We’re always trying to use “home tonic” as a way to be the greatest “us” that we can be! And our Co-Pilot P5 complements our triumph by aiding us.

    But really. How interesting is a triumph if we always make it look easy? I mean, who wants to watch a movie that doesn’t have a villain or some sort of a struggle? But! If we practice our other functions, then we’ll be able to live a life as colourful and beatuifully functional as a musical masterpiece. 🙂

    Jen K – ISTP

    • Charis Branson

      Wow! Thanks for that in-depth analysis Jen. We appreciate you taking the time to explain it to the musical theorists of our community. 🙂

  • Taylor

    one last thing to add. The universal concept I was referring to is music itself, not music theory. Even in the western world music theory is not universal, especially here in Germany there are a lot of concepts that do not exist in British or American music theory. Yes, the octave and circle of fifths isnt found in all musical traditions, however, that doesn’t mean someone in India for example can’t still enjoy music such as the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony and understand its “joyful”.

    I believe music itself is universal, that irregardless of culture or language it can stir ones emotions and speak to one on a deeper level in a way everyone can understand.

  • Taylor

    I don’t know if I speak for other Ni-users, but metaphors are sometimes the only means I have to verbalize ideas which exist comfortably in my mind, but do not fit within the confines of language that exists. Its not about seeing what sticks, its about seeing how the qualities in everything is like the qualities in everything else.

    …Homer never mentions the color blue in the Odyssey. He instead says things like, “the wine dark sea”. Metaphors. Why? The greeks didn’t have a word for blue. If the language doesn’t exist for a concept, you either have to create new words for it, or you have to explain it using ideas or words that are already available to you.

    I saw an essence in personality type, and the concept of that essence I translated using the circle of fifths and the octave. Its less about getting all the details right than it is about conveying an idea through a familiar model. As soon as you zoom in any further on the infinite number of exceptions, yes, the model falls apart. With that same logic, so does personality type.

    • Charis Branson

      As another Ni-user, I found your metaphors incredibly enlightening. I can’t follow the music talk, but once you used the metaphor of chess I got it! I love metaphors and especially appreciate the observation you made here:

      “We don’t seek the dominant function because we are the dominant function. The dominant function describes how we move through life, I don’t see tension there because we own it. The inferior function describes what we’re moving towards. Its the goal point.”

      That gives me a different perspective than I have ever really considered. It’s like approaching Driver/Copilot dichotomy from a completely different direction – and I like it! Thanks for your insights!

  • Taylor

    Afraid I have to disagree and still stick with the dominant function as the dominant, and the inferior function as the tonic. The Amen Cadence is not an authentic cadence (V-I) but a plagal cadence (IV-I)–perhaps that was a bad example to use. I didn’t want to make the point of tension through cadences at the end for, as you rightfully pointed out, there are many kinds of cadences.

    Again, I want to stress I’m talking about an idealized musical piece like a classical sonata. You’re right, the inferior function is aspirational, and we aren’t likely to ever fully arrive. Unlike a classical sonata, we’re unlikely to end in the tonic. Jazz, in my opinion, is the most “realistic music” if we want to use music as a representation for people. Jazz pieces often do not end in the tonic–jazz pieces break the rules of the idealized piece.

    We don’t seek the dominant function because we are the dominant function. The dominant function describes how we move through life, I don’t see tension there because we own it. The inferior function describes what we’re moving towards. Its the goal point.

    Okay, I’m probably complicating things even more by throwing out another metaphor, but here it goes.

    Chess. What drives the movement of the chess pieces on a board?

    The opponents king.

    Why? The opponents king represents the goal. The end point. The game of chess ends when I have successfully cornered the opponents king. From the beginning of the game, every movement of each pawn, bishop, queen, rook, knight etc is strategically played in the pursuit of the end goal. Sometimes my queen might stray to accomplish a smaller side goal, by removing a pawn for example, but the big goal is always in sight. Every movement is always to move one step closer to chessmate.

    What happens if I remove the King? There is no end point to drive the movement of the pieces. The game becomes a “last man standing” which would be pointless, and chess surely would not have survived for several hundred years if that was the case.

    This metaphor is the same for all competitive sports. The goal drives the movement of the players. The dominant function of a pawn is “straight ahead, one space”. Thats how it moves. The dominant function of a bishop is “diagonal spaces”. That is how it moves.

    The dominant describes how we move through life, but its not the end we seek.

    This was the point I was making with the second law of thermodynamics, but Ill leave the point for now..

    • Meg

      True, the “amen” is plagal, which follows the perfect cadence of the chorale or hymn tune. (Been a while since I’ve sung one. 🙂 ) In which case, yeah, the example doesn’t hold up. Chess? Now I feel like it’s just throwing metaphors at a concept to see what might stick. And I’m still going with the Western music chord tone analogy does not stick. However, look at the harmonic series, interval ratios, the actual physics of sound, and I bet you’ll be very happy with what you find there. Good luck!

    • Mike

      Even Newton’s Third Law (Action-Reaction) plays into this distinct interplay between dominant and inferior. Without the resistance of a counterforce, the definition of a force would be meaningless. All forces need counterforces/resistance to generate proper semantic meaning.

      Actually the interplay of opposites (like light/dark) also play into this pole, as dark is only defined with respect to the lack of light. Without the property of light, dark simply has no meaning. Likewise, any amount of light automatically negates dark…so these two terms will naturally be interwoven in a highly definitional way, in precisely the manner in which dominant and inferior opposite (just as you nicely described). It all very much makes sense.

  • Meg

    Hm. At first blush it sounds like a nice metaphor… but I’m not convinced that, if you flesh out the music theory, it would hold up even as a metaphor. OK, so we move through the circle of fifths by intervals of fourths and fifths. Those, along with the octave and unison, are consonant — and carry nearly equal weight in the (if you will) hierarchy of the scale. I do like the comparison of the dominant and auxiliary functions with the tonic and dominant scale positions — where the dominant Jungian function is “home base” like the tonic of a scale, and the auxiliary Jungian function is that guiding voice that points you back toward home, like the dominant scale position points back to the tonic. But, metaphorically speaking, the inferior function creates dissonance, no? There’s a friction there; it’s a blind spot. Not unlike in tonal music, you can work with the dissonances, and those dissonances can serve to move you through progressions and keys in new and interesting ways. All that aside, let’s keep in mind that this is Western music theory and is hardly a universal or “natural” way of hearing, understanding, experiencing music, so it definitely has limits as far as describing any kind of neurological or psychological “universals.” What about the harmonic series? What about microtones? I ask these questions not to shoot down your idea but to flesh it out from other angles. I LOVE music (obviously) so I enjoy hearing about how others experience it; I could talk about this stuff all day. Cheers!

    • Taylor

      No worries, you’re not shooting down my idea, I tend to be blind to a lot of details in pursuit of the big picture so it’s nice to have people point out the things I missed.

      I would like to note, I’m an amateur enthusiast when it comes to music theory, I have no authority in it.

      I know there are so many exceptions in music theory, especially when we get to jazz, you can kiss the rules and framework goodbye. Different cultures have different rules, so that does make the question of universality tricky. The octave is not unique to western culture and has emerged in other parts of the globe at various times in human history.

      I’m focused largely on the octave and again, taking a big view picture and blurring out all the details. The Robert Laughlin quote that inspired this idea was from a book on emergence in physics, and I take an emergent rather than reductionalist approach to it. Personality typing itself is generalized and emergent. It describes the universal patterns we see in each type but does not address the complexities and unique qualities belonging to each and every person.

      I’m speaking of music theory in its most ideal form, in the same way a chemist might use PV=nRT (the ideal gas equation). Gases in the real world do not behave ideally, but the ideal gas law equation describes how an ideal gas would act, and it can be useful in chemistry for solving for unknown variables.

      (for anyone not familiar with music theory, perhaps its easier to think of sol-fege, Do-Re-Mi. The tonic would be “Do”, the first note of the scale, and the dominant is “So”, the fifth note.) This relates to the circle of fifths because it is arranges the major keys by intervals of the fifth to create a full circle.

      First, I see the dominant function as the dominant (V), and the inferior function as the tonic (I).

      The dominant seeks the tonic, the way our dominant function seeks the inferior. An ideal piece of music ends in the tonic.

      The way I understand Jungian theory, the process of individuation is to develop the undifferentiated unconscious functions (namely our tertiary and inferior). The goal is to become whole, which means reaching and integrating the inferior. I know for myself personally, that end goal of inferior Se is always beckoning, like Jay Gatsby’s green light, the end point that I’m always reaching for When a song doesn’t end in the tonic it can feel cut off, incomplete.

      As for the friction, (I’d probably use the word “tension”) think of the end of a hymn, the “A-men”. It is so hard not to return to the tonic. People who know nothing about music theory instinctively want to sing the “-men” back in the tonic.

      • Meg

        OH! I TOTALLY misheard your question! But now I think I like it a little less. My understanding of the inferior function is that there’s an aspirational quality to it — we want to get there, or integrate it into our consciousness, but it’s not a place we are likely to fully arrive at and not where we’re most comfortable living. We’re comfortable in the dominant Jungian function. To my mind, that’s the tonic, or do, not the dominant/fifth, or sol. And then, OK, let’s think about cadences. The one you describe is actually commonly called a “perfect” cadence – from V to I – which is a neat name in this context! (Called that mainly because it follows certain rules for getting from one chord to another that were written down around Bach’s time.) A lot of the tension we perceive in that dominant chord (“Ahhhh-“) that makes us want the final tonic chord (“-mehhhhhnnnn!”) soooo bad are the closer intervals that movement creates — not merely the sol-do motion but also the re-do and mi-do that go along with it. Those closer vibrations are an important piece of this puzzle that are hard to ignore.

        Then there are other types of cadences that go from the fourth to the tonic — listen to Van Morrison’s “Hymns to the Silence” for a good example of those. For me, that harmonic motion creates a certain kind of stasis — it’s kinda cozy! But it never feels like it gets anywhere. Where would that fit into the Jungian stack? Maybe dominant-auxiliary? Auxiliary-tertiary?

        Please see my reply to one of the previous comments for ideas about the octave and the harmonic series, which seems like it might have more juice as a metaphor for typology models and human development.

        • Meg

          (correx: that’s Re-Do and TI-Do!)

  • Beckie

    I completely understand the desire to give back; in fact, I purchased the Intuitive Awakening program and a couple of other lower-cost items (gifting guide, growth series) almost entirely because I felt it was unethical for me to continue reaping the benefits of the free content and not reciprocating (although I gleaned lots of valuable info from the programs). At the same time, I likely wouldn’t have purchased the IA program if it weren’t for the option to pay in installments.

    My suggestion would be to break the installments into even smaller amounts for the more costly products, as well as to categorize the products via price point (e.g. products under $50, products with installment payments of $10 per month, etc.). If that model were followed, I think it would absolve PH of any integrity concerns AND clearly outline a pricing structure that could suit almost anyone’s financial constraints.

    In regard to you theory, Taylor, I think that’s an absolutely brilliant connection to make! I don’t know enough to be able to add anything to the discussion, but you have certainly inspired me to research the idea further. 🙂

    As always, thanks for everything, Antonia and Joel!!


    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Beckie!

      Joel has been tossing around the idea of a subscription service, whereby people would subscribe for a low monthly payment and gradually be able to work their way through most of our premium content.

      We are seeing more and more of that pop up in the digital media world. It may very well be the wave of the future!

      • Beckie

        Cool, great idea! Thanks for the response, Charis!

  • Jill

    Thank you so much @Taylor – both for the Radiolab recommendation and for going down the rabbit hole with me! 🙂 Btw, downloading thoughts is probably coming – and there are people working on it – at least they are making progress in translating thought using functional MRIs. Maybe someone can create an app to make our phones act like the FMRI. 😉 It may not be in my lifetime, but I bet it will be in yours!

  • Wulfex

    Maybe it’s not a donation button, but a tip jar. Also, I’m not sure how you run your business, but maybe you could look into something like Patreon and give “value” to everyone for a certain amount of donations or tips.

    • Charis Branson

      Great idea, Wulfex! I had never explored Patreon before, but I love it! Thanks for making me aware of it!

  • Jill

    Well, maybe I’m taking this too far, but the golden ratio – which is said by some to appear in numerous places throughout nature is 1.6(18….) – and according to a quick google search, there appears to be some relationship between it and the circle of fifths….

    On a (tangentially) related note, are there any music theorists out there that have studied how specific types of music affect mood? I know that certain apps use algorithms to try to match music to mood, and I want to learn how it works in order to create a tool for alleviating depression. The apps in their current form fall short because when someone is depressed, a play list matching their mood will just make them more depressed, and listening to uplifting music doesn’t usually help until the person can get into a receptive state for that music. I think that there is probably a way to gradually take a person out of a depressive state with a few tweaks of the algorithm….

    P.S. Antonia and Joel, what great, insightful work you do! I see absolutely no problem with a donate button. If people see value in your work and want to pay for it (either in addition to or instead of the products that you sell), there should be a mechanism for it. Kudos on a great job!

    • Taylor

      I see their point, and I also agree with you Jil. Perhaps we can convince them otherwise, to let us show our appreciation 😉 Donations aren’t entirely charity, we want to support you both in any way we can so you can continue sharing your great ideas with us.

      • Taylor

        @Jil, radiolab has several interesting podcasts on music, psychology and mood. Not sure if any of them exactly answer your question, but nonetheless give some insight into how music ties into our lives.

        As for the golden ratio, I have thought about this and made a loose connection.

        When I think of the golden ratio I think mostly of fractals and spirals.

        Herman Hesse said in his book Siddartha, “‘We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.'”

        Don Beck’s + Graves model spiral dynamics– this may be my dominant Ni speaking, ha, I’m not apt to consider endless possibilites,– I do not believe there is a Graves level beyond 8. A spiral is always going up, yes, but it is still looping. Octave, 8 cognitive functions, Keplers music of the spheres (8 planets), 8 spokes to the Dharmachakra , 8 original temptations of man. I think 8 is full circle, then the cycle resets, even if it doesn’t repeat, because its a spiral. Songs have an end, books have ends, seasons, games, stories, people, all have ends.

        I can visualize Herman Hesse’s quote like a piano keyboard. I can start at the low end and play one scale. As I continue playing up the keyboard, even though the circle repeats (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C,) I’m still going up in pitch.

        …that’s a very weak explanation/connection, I know. So, where are we on techonology that allows us to download our thoughts? Anyone working on that?

        • Meg

          Except the octave is only the very beginning of a theoretically infinite overtone series! Imagine a guitar string: You play it open, you get the fundamental pitch; split it in half, you get the octave. Split it again, you get a fifth; again, another octave; then a third, then another fifth, then the ratios go all wacky and you get super-flat (to our ear and compared to the rest of the math) sevenths. And on and on. THAT is the spiral we’re talking about, and a more precise analogy to the music of the spheres.

          If you’re interested in the intersection of music and metaphysics, a great book to check out is “Music and Renaissance Magic” by Gary Tomlinson. A good explanation of how overtones work is at

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Jill!

      In regards to your comment on depression, I have found working to balance my Chakras and doing regular meditation is really helpful. There are lots of musical choices on Youtube for balancing the Chakras.

      Sam Joseph does piano music that is aimed specifically at the Chakras. I will sometimes listen to it while meditating.

      Here’s a link:

    • Meg

      Here’s a great bibliography of research on music perception and cognition:

      Much of the more recent research confirms what one might expect about the relationship between music and mood, which is that there’s nothing really empirical about it; i.e., such-and-such interval/key/tempo/pitch/style/whatever doesn’t elicit particular moods. The effects largely depend on the listener or player’s current mood and what they like in general. A lot of music therapy works on the iso principle: starting with active or passive music activities that match where the client is in the present and then working through to a more positive state (which is not always mirrored in music that might conventionally be considered “positive”).

      • Jill

        @Meg! Thank you so much! I had not heard of the iso principle, but that is exactly what I was wanting to do with the app – begin with music that matches the mood and then lift gradually.

        I’m disappointed to hear that there isn’t a consistent empirical method for matching mood and music. I suppose it makes sense given the broad spectrum of musical taste, but I was hoping that there were patterns that I am unaware of due to my lack of education in music.

        I was thinking that maybe it would be possible to use a person’s own music collection (to account for the particular tastes/ genres, etc.) and then from that use interval, key, tempo, pitch, style, etc. to figure out the mood and then make the list to match and progressively lift.

        In any event, I appreciate the information, and I will check out that site!

  • Taylor

    Tyler, that is incredibly kind. I couldn’t accept such generosity–while I may be a poor grad student, I’m far from destitute, and feel such charity would be more beneficial spent on someone who is in greater need of it. Thank-you nonetheless for the thought.

    Regarding the PHQ, the Robert Laughlin quote might be helpful:

    “It represents the tension between two poles of thought, which drives processes of understanding the world the way the tension between the tonic and the dominant drives a classical sonata. At any one time in history a given pole may be stronger than the other, but its predominance is only temporary for the essence of the plot is the conflict itself.”

    Currently reading Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope”. He mentions on more than one occasion the tension between the two opposing poles of thought, present in every person and every society, as the drive behind democracy (and us).

    It might simply be a convenient coincidence. 8 notes in the octave, 8 cognitive functions. 16 keys in the circle of fifths (again, counting C twice as you do in the octave), 16 MBTI types.

  • Tyler

    This was one of the best PHQ that I have listened to. I would be willing to donate but in a different fashion than you talked about. I would be much more will to purchase premium content for someone like Taylor. I have purchased some premium content and found it very beneficial. After hearing Taylor’s theroy I am confident he is the type of person that would really benefit from premium content.

    I feel this is a win win scenario. Personally hacker gets to maintain their current business model, and other listener get the benefit of the premium content.

    • Charis Branson

      Your Awesome, Tyler! Thanks for being part of the Personality Hacker family!

  • Taylor

    Wow, thanks Antonia and Joel for discussing my theory, much appreciated. And yes, I do see your point on the donations, thank-you for explaining.

    Even if my music idea doesn’t make sense (or is complete rubbish, which I concede it might be), it is a nice metaphor nonetheless– humanity is like the octave. Before the equal tempered instruments we have today in western music, the tonal imperfections of the scale were contained on one note called the wolf. In an equal tempered octave however, the imperfections are spread between each note, so the octave as a whole is perfect.

    Humanity is like the octave. Each person has a piece of imperfection, but together as a whole we are perfect.

    I have developed the idea further, if anyone is interested.

    When I tell people about personality type and they get upset about being put in a box or given a label, I tell them personality type is a lot like musical keys. Saying a song is in C major doesn’t tell me what the song sounds like itself. It does however tell me what patterns of chord progressions I’m likely to see. It tells me certain guidelines and loose rules, but there are still infinite possibilities for songs written in C. No two ISFJs or ENTPs will be alike, there are infinite possibilities, but type like a key signature, type will tell you what patterns are likely to emerge, and what rules that persons melody is likely to follow.

    • Alexia

      Loved your theory! I think it makes sense, and even if in the end there is no real connection (which I think there could be!) it really is a nice metaphor! (ENTP)

      • Charis Branson

        I agree! I think it’s beautiful that everything is interconnected. Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Taylor!

    • C

      I don’t know anything about music, but I like your theory and it reminds me of the 8 body type constitutions of Korean acupuncture. I believe in a Creator, and a universal theory makes a lot of sense. It is nice to think that we humans are each one of 8 notes, imperfect, or unbalanced individually, but the sum is pure and perfect.

    • Mike

      Hi Taylor,

      I recently listened to this podcast, and as a fellow INFJ, I find your theory to be downright gorgeous an elegant. As you would imagine (as INFJs), I love when various complex theories intermingle with each other to generate novel emergent insights, and the way that you interwove emergence theory, music theory, and Jungian type theory has such an elegance to it that I think can be expanded on in really powerful/cogent ways. I see how you connected the circle of fifths and its encapsulated symmetry (in terms of sharps, flats, and neutral keys) to form 16 possible keys, which in some sense can be juxtaposed to the 16 Myers-Briggs types, divided into 8 distinct dominant-inferior poles (with 2 types occupying such poles). I also can see how each type (as defined by its dom-inferior axis) can serve as a distinct flavoring and color, just like each note. Then one can consider both the distinct flavor that each type and axis brings as well as the unity that all types/people have in a deeper metaphysical sense. So in a nutshell, I deeply value your contribution here, and probably would learn a lot more if you found other ways to expand on this level of deep, interwoven mystical Truth. I do think that you are on to something here, given the emergent, interconnected nature of it all, and would love to ponder more about how it all fits together. Really awesome insights here! Thank you for sharing them!

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