Male-Female ?

This article is part of the Psychology section.

There is no doubt that neither James Bond nor Barbie could be good classical musicians. James would have to soften up and loosen up, both physically (especially his right wrist) and emotionally. Barbie would need to toughen up and get serious. They could do several years of psychotherapy …….. but a simple injection of hormones could have an even greater effect, and what’s more, the effect would be instantaneous. James would need the feminising hormone estrogen, and Barbie would need the masculine hormone, testosterone. Problem resolved !

We musicians – unlike James and Barbie – require both the feminine and the masculine sides in our playing, and we need also the ability to change instantaneously from one extreme to the other: from the most utterly gentle, maternal, loving tenderness, to the pitiless violence of an enraged bull. And from the seductive teasing of a “femme fatale” (a lot of French music ) to the cold mechanical violence of a psychopathic police state (Shostakovitch).

Not surprisingly, measurements of hormone levels in classical musicians blood show that this musical necessity becomes part of our body chemistry. Music makes us quite androgynous. Male musicians have more female hormones than your average bloke, and vice versa for female musicians.

So it’s not surprising that, while listening to recordings (or to orchestral auditions in which the players are hidden behind a screen), our guesses about the candidate’s gender will probably be wrong. That’s great, because we do not want to be able to identify a player’s gender from their way of playing!!