Powerful Geography
Musicians and Singers

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and Singers


Main Topic: Human and Cultural Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview:  Musicians play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. They perform a variety of genres, such as classical, jazz, and rock. They typically perform music for live audiences and recordings, audition for positions in orchestras, choirs, bands and other types of music groups, practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique, rehearse music and parts to prepare for performances, find and book locations for performances or concerts and create online and media presence to promote themselves. Musicians play solo or in orchestras, bands, or limited-size groups, such as trios. Those in bands or groups may play at small venues, such as private parties or bars, sometimes building enough of a fan base to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Musicians who work in orchestras perform in venues with a stage large enough to accommodate all the musicians and their instruments. A few orchestra musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals. Many times musicians are also singers and may be the lead of the band or perform back-up vocals.

Musicians and singers need geographic skills as their career is usually place based. Geographic location affects what kind of music they play, perform, record or promote and how far they need to travel to different venues as a touring artist. Furthermore, they not only need to know the location but also understand the cultural context of a certain place during a certain time period. Musicians could use cultural geographical knowledge to understand these elements. Other than navigation to different cultural and tourist hubs, they can also use geographic information system (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to analyze and predict locational patterns of social behavior that directly correlates to the audience behavior, record sales, ticket sales, cultural relevance and audience reaction to their music.

In the bigger picture, music and singing is all about cultural geography. The genre of music is based upon geographic location, for example, country is found in Nashville, Tennessee; grunge rock came from Seattle, Washington; Memphis, Tennessee is home to the blues; New Orleans is home to jazz, blues, and zydeco; the Bronx in New York City is known as the birthplace of hip hop. Salsa can be a blanket term to describe the dance music that comes out of Latin America and the Caribbean, but more precisely, salsa music is a Cuban-influenced genre created in New York City in the 1960s.

The instruments used are also based upon geography and cultural factors. For example jazz uses trumpet, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, piano, a bass instrument (such as a double bass or electric bass guitar), and drums. While country music uses the fiddle, steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, piano, guitar, and drums. Regionally there are instruments that are specific like Latin America utilizing congas, steel drums, maracas, and bongos.

Geographers at work:  Cultural geographers, human geographers, social geographers, music geographers, geographic information scientists

Recommended College Courses:  Human geography, social geography, social theories, environmental geography, geographic information science

Skills:  Socio-cultural analysis, Mapping and modeling, geographic information systems, computer and database systems, spatial analysis, map reading and interpretation

Occupation Group: Entertainment and Sports

Learn more about Musicians and Singers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/musicians-and-singers.htm#tab-1

Written by Binay Thapa and Dr. Joanna Zadrozny


Musicians play instruments for live audiences and in recording studios.
Musicians play instruments for live audiences and in recording studios.