“Does a theremin make music thru science or from being haunted?”: Jacob Collier answers the internet’s music theory and instrument questions and they’re as bonkers as you might expect

So, you get your opportunity to put any question you like to musical polymath Jacob Collier and what do you ask him? “Why does holes in guitars exist? They are annoying when things fall into them.”

We won’t dwell too long on that one, but in a new video from Wired, you can watch Collier answer this and other posers as he provides ‘musical instrument tech support’ to people who’ve asked for it on Twitter/X.

They start out fairly sensibly. “Why are there 88 keys on a piano?” one user asks. Because that covers a large range of the frequencies that humans are capable of hearing, replies Collier.

Things quickly take a turn for the surreal, though, with one person wondering if a theremin makes music “thru science or from being haunted?”. Another contributes “Please, what is treble,” (no question mark). 

Fear not, though, because Collier does get to the chance to flex a bit more of his musical knowledge muscle when he’s asked about microtones and whether they’re ever used in Western music (answer: yes), but it’s not long before the charmingly named ‘Piss Kink’ asks “Why do people even play bass u can’t even hear that shit lmaoo”. 

On we go, discovering why minor chords sound sad, and hearing another user posit that we’re entering a “post-riff world” because all the good ones have been used up and new ones are either bad or copies another riff. Unsurprisingly, Collier disagrees with that one.

There’s also some interesting stuff on what makes a bassline funky and how you go about keeping your drum beats interesting, and Jacob then goes on to put odd time signatures and polyrhythms under his Collierscope.

And, throughout it all he remains, patient, polite and respectful, no matter what kind of question he’s confronted with. If the recording and performing thing doesn’t work out, he’d make an excellent music teacher.

Jacob Collier

(Image credit: Getty Images)
Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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