ADHD Musicians: One thing's for sure... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

CHADD's Adult ADHD Support

8,809 members2,291 posts

ADHD Musicians


One thing's for sure, music from an ADHD brain is the most interesting stuff I've ever personally listened to. Any of you guys ever spend your time just zoning out to music and allowing the pictures in ur mind to take over? I've always had crazy dashes of color dancing around in my brain when I listen to music. As a teenager, I often listened to techno & house music underneath a blacklight and I'd just go nuts- I never needed drugs because my brain was creative enough on it's own.

Any ADHD musicians here with their own tunes to share? I'm sure the community would love to hear them!

17 Replies

Everyday of my life practically. I play 15 instruments and listen to a massive eclectic amount of music of different styles. I also act, paint, draw, and do a large amount of impressions. Creativity and ADHD go hand in hand.

Here is my latest album, it is a Jazz Fusion/ Prog album, which contains styles and scales from all over the world, and different decades.

My Youtube channel is called: Wilhelm the Esoteric. I have other albums and some videos on Inattentive ADHD on there as well.

Wonderful! I really like your "Channel Surfing on Neon Prism" song. Has a nice flow (and good visuals).

LOL. I'm so disorganized, I end up uploading my tunes to random websites that make them hard to access later and I always forget where I put them.

I got bored with music last year (again... for the 100th time) and so I sold a bunch of my stuff. Before I did this, I had a really short career as a club DJ, until I got bored... notice the pattern?

I managed to dig this tune up that I wrote shortly before quitting. Would probably be a cool tune if I finished it, but the energy in it always puts me in a good mood.

Killer track man, "Don't Stop". Very catchy

Thanks man. Speaking of visuals, that song was inspired by my trips to the mall as a kid in the early 90s. The aesthetic of malls during that time was vibrant, geometric, lots of plants/palm trees, beautiful geometric water fountains and rather avant-garde objects. The song is in 3 parts. The 1st part is walking through the mall and seeing all that. 2nd part is much more tranquil emphasizing my long walks through stores that sold beds, furniture etc. that usually had very soothing exotic ambiance style music. And the last part is emphasing playing in mall arcades of the time and the dreamy like atmosphere it brought fourth. It essentially is meant to take the viewer through a visually stimulating trip through the mall of the past. I'm gonna make a video for it eventually.

Sorry to hear that man. I was very disorganized as well before taking my medication and supplements. Getting bored with things and dropping them is a huge ADHD symptom. It's a struggle but we gotta pull through and thankfully there is help. Thanks for sending me your track, I'll check it out

Hi , glad you got over giving up stuff easily, cheers!!

Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I come from a musical family and grew up singing. I have played guitar, bass, and percussion but I am not very disciplined. I typically don't play songs at all but, rather, embrace my spontaneity and improvise. I have a good ear and can instinctually find the right key and rhythm. A fellow musician called me a noodler which is a title I embrace.

I am also a avid consumer of music. My MP3 collection contains over 36,000 files covering music from all over the world and across gerns. I drive my wife crazy by listening to it in scramble mode.

cjnolet in reply to Wylly

Wow. I'm very similar with regard to improvising vs just learning to play popular songs. I never was interested in learning other people's music. I had started learning music theory at about the age of 11 and spent all my time composing. I loved learning to improvise because it allows me to compose music much faster.

I found on the guitar how to figure out most rock/pop/blues songs and used to love showing my friends "this is just a 12-bar pattern in this key, etc..." I'd extract the key by ear and with a little noodling on the guitar in about 15 seconds and I'd start soloing over the songs. It's amazing what we accomplish when we're interested in something we love.

Nice. Your story is exactly like my brother and myself. We realized when we got older that the gift of figuring out what scale/song is in and being able to mimmick the riff within seconds is called having good "relative pitch". I've been a music instructor since 2008 (I teach piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocals) and was under the impression that having good relative pitch was due to having ADHD. I'm currently in grad school to become a Psychology MFT and have studied ADHD for a few years and noticed that some of my ADHD diagnosed music clients have absolutely no ear, borderline tone deaf. This led me to believe that not everyone who has ADHD has relative pitch down packed, that comes down to genetics, but having ADHD does help out with the creative outlet.

That's very interesting about the psychology degree! I'm actually in the doctorate computer science program @ University of Maryland primarily focused on machine learning. I've considered trying to do some data science on ADHD datasets to see if I can learn or model any interesting patterns based on data from research and studies.

I have not had much luck finding good data but I admit I have not looked exhaustively either. Let me know if you come across any such studies/datasets in your travels through the psychology program. Would be neat to collaborate or learn from each other.

Props on the degree and getting into the program, I hear the math classes are intense (I hate math, due to my condition haha).

Sounds good man, lets keep in touch on here. I'm working on a ADHD film covering the issues Inattentive types go through from the elementary school through adulthood, gonna include hyperactive and combined types scenes as well. I finished the script for it last year. I want to put the word out there about this condition most of us have, and the daily struggle it is for some of us. I finished all the elementary school scenes (wasn't easy, especially with kids haha), and just started the middle school scenes yesterday.

I love music and play guitar, ukulele, and keys. Right now I'm mostly focused on uke. I write my own songs and sing all the time. Sometimes it's probably annoying because I'll make up random (goofy) songs throughout the day too.

I don't produce a lot of music (I sort of play flute and I sing a little but I never wrote anything) but I love to listen to it. I find music to be a very intimate thing. The kind of music a person likes can tell you a lot about them. I like all kinds of different music, usually depending on my mood, because I'm a very sporadic person.

I will also hyperfocus when I find a new song or group of songs I like and if it has words I will listen to it/them on repeat for hours/days/weeks on end until I know every word. Once I really learn a song, I never forget it.

Sometimes I really like to lip sync to songs and kinda act them out with my facial expressions, or just dance around the room if nobody's around.

When I was in 4th grade, I asked my mother if I could play drums. She told me I could if I learned piano first. So, off to piano lessons I went! I started playing drums in 6th grade orchestra. My mother was a folk singer in the 70's/early 80's and her 12 string was always sitting in our living room. I picked that up and started learning when I was 15. That is right about the time I started recording as well.

I have written/recorded probably around 100 songs since. A small fraction of which I have ever shared with people. Started out doing industrial / dance ish music.

I started playing in Rock/metal bands by 17 years old. Dipped my feet trying to play a couple clubs with those bands but things really took off when my brother and I formed a band with some friends. We decided to just not try and force ourselves into a genre and see what each of our individual tastes would create. the result was some blend of punk, ska, Irish, funk, and a sprinkle of Tom Waits haha.

It started rough but we had something cool by our second recording. We were getting some real attention and packing local clubs. It was fun but by the time we were about to release our 3rd album, we were a mess. Everyone was fighting some form of addiction and the family feuding between us brothers was getting tired. So that quickly dissolved and we never pressed that album. I still have the masters though :)

I am getting ready for a trip first thing in the morning but when I get settled I will see if I have some stuff to share.

I was a pro musician some years back and the work definitely suited my ADHD brain. There was lots of variety. Every gig was different. And playing music provides structure and is sort of like hyperfocus. If I'm in the middle of playing a song it's almost impossible to get distracted. Almost -- I'm a singer and I sometimes blanked on lyrics because my mind wandered. Even so, if I started getting bored with a song, there was always another one only three minutes away.

I liked the work a lot, especially when I was playing my own music. Really gratifying. But the hours were weird and the pay was tough, and it's definitely a younger person's gig. Starting in my mid to late 30s I couldn't handle the late nights anymore!

Hyperfocus is awesome! I set out to record a 5-7 minute song and ended up with 10:33, lol But who cares, it's the best song I've ever written...or improvised on the spot :) So far, anyway.

I was misdiagnosed when I was a child as having "the least amount of Asperger's" the doctor had ever seen in someone who had it and never believed the diagnosis because I didn't have any of the symptoms that were exclusive to Asperger's. I did, however, have many of the ones that overlapped with ADHD, but didn't know it at the time or have the wherewithal to do the research. As an adult I finally did some research and found out I also had the ones that are exclusive to ADHD. BOOM! Self-diagnosis...successful. I did see a doctor to double check and they agreed 100%.

Anyway, I've always wanted to be a musician. As far back as 5 I remember humming fully completely formed songs that I even gave names to. In my late teens and early 20s I started messing around with free loops that came with Acid Music...anyone remember that program?...on my windows 98 machine. Well, after years of experimenting with no real serious intent to release anything (although I did want to) I now have 2 albums on Amazon (

Over the years, I went through many styles...most of which were experimental and sounded like or actually were Noise music ala Merzbow. I had a whole workflow down and everything. One Christmas a few years back my brother gave me his ex-girlfriends (1966?) Tiesco Del Ray bass. The thing looked like it had been thrown down a flight of stairs and jumped on...20 time times in a row. It was missing the third string and the neck was visibly warped, leaning to one side just enough to notice. I took it to Guitar Center and they told me never to replace the strings, especially the messing one, or the neck would warp further. They even laughed at me when I asked them to tune it, telling me it wouldn't stay that way long enough for me to get to my car...but they did anyway. The highest string buzzes, the 2nd string sounds pretty good, and the lowest sounds as though it's touch loose even when tuned properly (I've since learned how to do that, btw). Long story short, I plugged it into my computer to A) see if it would work as an amp and B) see if the bass would even work or make any sound at all. Well, the computer amped just fine and the bass sounded exactly like it looked like it a crappy mistreated bass. I didn't even ask the next question, "Do I know how to play?" because I knew the answer was no...absolutely not. Did I care? No...absolutely not. I quickly loaded Apple Soundtrack Pro and recorded a bit of open chord, conventionally rhythmic, definite song structure like, tooling around. And as soon as I hit playback, I knew what the lyrics were. So I threw them in (recorded in CD quality with my video camera's XLR mic), edited the bass to sound a tad more polished (as though I was in a professional studio, lol) and...I had the first song for what I didn't know at the time would be my first album. I did have to go back and adjust the levels and all that (which I did right then) know, learning curve and all that (because it was my first time ever playing a stringed instrument, ever). Recently, I taught myself how to master...instead of spending $200 for 10 songs for some guy on the Internet to do it for me (like I did for my first album). Anyway...

That song and the next two became a running joke between my friends and me. They weren't bad...they were just...more like someone was purposely recording goofy music for the sake of making people laugh. From that POV the music was awesome. Since then I've embraced and even polished my open chord structure, bought two guitars (one of which I had modified for special tuning), a stand up bass (6 feet tall!), a fully electric (not electro-acustic) Balalaika, a harmonica, and a few odds and ends in the miniature synth and novelty noise machine categories. My brother, who teaches music for a living, offered me free lessons, but I turned him down. I love the open structure sound and learning how to play would most likely ruin it (I know how to play so why don't I?). Now, I actually take my music a bit more seriously and have even begun recording/writing more "grown up" songs...moving away from the whole novelty thing.

6 months to a year before this I bought two Jandek albums at a record store having a liquidation sale (days before going out of business). I'd never heard of him but was intrigued by the album artwork. Long story short, I didn't take the time to properly listen to him so I never fully understood what he was doing. Until, that is, I included him on a compilation I made/threw in my car. One of his songs came up by random and...WOW!...did he know what he was doing/have actual intent with everything he did. I was hooked and since then I've bought 18 more of his albums (and counting). I was already doing what he did before I even knew he was doing it so he didn't influence my sound, but he was doing what I did AND taking it seriously. Huh? So I gave it a try and loved the results. I recorded a serious song in the same style I had assumed would only work for little novelty ditties and it was awesome. I had finally found myself as a musician! I could finally enjoy playing and recording something that I then could equally enjoy listening to...that other people would actually ejoy listening to listen to as well (noise music has a limited audience even when it's exceptionally well done).

ADHD and music? H3!! yeah it's a thing. The deal is though, you gotta stop wasting your time, actually find out where your talent lies, and stop being self-conscious to make it happen. Even if your first album takes 2 years to produce :)

You may also like...