ADHD and electronic music

So my older kid recently got diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager, and we strongly suspect my younger one may have it as well. Since it has a strongly suspected genetic basis, my wife thinks it’s very likely I have it too, based on a lot of signs (intense but shifting focus on many projects, difficulty with boredom, absent-mindedness, etc.).

I’m scheduled for a full eval in a couple of weeks, but meanwhile I’ve been reading up more and realizing that this is a very common “condition” with creative people, so not necessarily a bad thing (I don’t want to start a whole debate about whether ADHD is “real”–I agree with those who think kids are over-diagnosed and over-prescribed, for the record). It’s about recognizing how our individual brains work, embracing the positive things, accommodating the challenges, and living/eating/self-medicating (or not!) in a healthy way.

I’m wondering how many people here have themselves either been diagnosed with or strongly suspect ADHD. I’m learning that the “classic” signs I grew up associating with the older ADD diagnosis (inability to sit still, hyperactivity) are only part of the “disorder” (again, I really hate that pathological language), and not everyone is on that side of the “spectrum” (I don’t really seem to be myself). Many people who live with ADHD without a diagnosis seem to develop their own strategies for coping, like figuring out how to work in short, intense bursts, finding professions that keep them from getting bored, etc. It certainly seems like I have.

Anyway, I’m really curious not just about how many people here feel this might apply to them (I suspect a lot), but also specifically how they’ve coped, and especially what they feel their brains get from–and give to–their music and gear obsessions. Do you think that electronic musicians/producers tend to have certain kinds of brains? I know there’s been some discussion of how autism spectrum might play a role in the community, but I suspect that ADHD might be even more prevalent (and that sometimes the two conditions may get confused or conflated).

Edit: I should add “impulsivity.” It’s a classic sign, and I wonder whether struggles with GAS are related.

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Thanks for sharing this. I’ve suspected that I have ADHD for years, but have had a couple assessments by professionals who say I don’t have it. I’m honestly disappointed because it would help explain a lot of my problems.

I think that electronic music is stimulating for people who struggle to focus because it’s often hypnotic and repetitive. Electronic music is one of few things that helps me zone in and slows down my racing mind. Video games and motorcycling are others, because they move quickly and demand your attention. It seems backwards, but things that are complex, dense and move quickly can be the most calming. On the other hand, activities that are meant to calm you down, like meditating, seem to have the opposite effect on me.

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As awareness of these spectrums grows and diagnostic catagorization and techniques evolve, I think many creatives are being diagnosed with characteristics of both camps… I certainly have family members that fall somewhere between them. Not just one spectrum or another, but a spectrum of spectrums, as it were.

Self-awareness can only benefit artists, whether that comes early in life or much later. Gary Numan is a great example IMO.

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interesting topic; thanks for bringing it up. i wonder if i’m somewhere on that spectrum but also hate the tendency to diagnose everything these days. i wonder if some of this shortened attention is due to the advent of internet use. when our culture values quick access to information, not deep knowledge or memory, it’s no wonder we can’t focus. also, how prevalent is this type of diagnosis around the world? here in america, there’s a whole generation of parents looking for an answer to their children’s behavior. do european or asian countries see anything similar? for me, it was much easier to concentrate in my younger years, though looking back, i was always pretty active. one look at the multiple in progress projects in my wood shop and all the music gear on my desk makes me wonder, though.

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I totally agree the internet is probably to blame for a lot of younger folks. In my case, my signs go back to the 80s well before the internet was widespread, but whatever I’m dealing with is certainly exacerbated by the internet (for example, I’ve been in front of my computer for 2 hours this morning and have yet to do any proper “work”!).

For me, it’s less about diagnosis with a particular syndrome or disorder, and more about understanding brain diversity (or “neurotypical” vs not) so I can live a healthy life, be kind to myself, etc. I’ve beaten myself up for years for patterns that may, in fact, not have been fully in my control and/or aren’t really “bad” things at all…

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I have some friends (Electronic Music Producers) with ADHD and what I’ve learned from them is that they tend to go with Instruments that doesn’t require a complex structure to operate. As an example, they will be more attracted to something like a Moog DFAM or a Roland TR-8 or the Elektron Models instead of an Octatrack or any Synths with a lot of Modulations. Often, cabling and routing (Audio or MIDI) are a nightmare for them.

I’m not saying that everyone with ADHD are the same. These are just my observations with a very limited sample of people.

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Super interesting. I myself hate menu diving and get stressed out about complex modulation. I’ve owned and sold some more complex Elektrons, a Zoia, and some other gear that just required too much patience. My favorite gear has been knob-per-function stuff. Things like the Wavestate stress me out (even just videos).

On the other hand, I’m increasingly drawn to modular gear that allows me to “see” signal paths directly and really understand what’s going on.

You should see the spaghetti behind my desk–it works, but god help me when I need to disconnect/reconnect something! I do ok with midi routing if I carefully draw out diagrams first.

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Good example.

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ADHD used to be seen as a disorder, but what it is and where it comes from has never been found. The era of neuroscience on this topic is ending. New research looks at genes and behaviour. We look at it as it is a variation in our society.

New research monitors sleep, movement, stress, phone-use, etc. I think (don’t know exactly, people with adhd love to be sucked into something and forget time and space. Elektron suits that very well.

Not an expert here, but I do research about digitalisation and adhd, still in pre-research though

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Great topic by the way.

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Thanks–that’s why I love this forum! Great conversations with nice, thoughtful people. Can you imagine this thread on GS? :roll_eyes:

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No. I never did go there. Must be that I didn’t feel the need of anything beside Elektronauts. I must say that I’m not a Social Media guy. No FB, IG or whatever.

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Not diagnosed, strongly suspect I am somehow neuroatypical. I’ve always been very creative, but very bad at concentrating on menial tasks. I snap, crackle & pop but have a very low tolerance of drudgery. I am easily inspired & have been known to inspire others, but have difficulty keeping my house clean or life organized (I can do it, but it takes a lot more effort than most people).

I am personally quite happy with who I am, but my SO (or boss, hah) isn’t. We’ve had our rows over house work and dependability, which I’ll be the first to admit aren’t really my strongest suits. I am afraid that medication would dampen my spirit, and I’m not sure I want to trade dependable vacuuming & dish washing for creativity.

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Similar story here…was diagnosed with adhd much later in life after one of my kids was diagnosed.

Just knowing felt great! It explained so much and I didn’t feel I needed treatment. However, after a few years of ruminating on all the negative things that have happened in my life because I am not neurotypical and the bad habits I learned as a way to cope coming to the surface started to make me feel miserable. If you are diagnosed I strongly suggest finding a good therapist that specializes in adhd sooner than later just to see if there are some things you need to work out.

I’ve always had a hard time with creativity and time management is the biggest issue for me. I’ll either procrastinate and not do anything, get bored after 10 minutes if I’m not feeling it, or I’ll get so into something I’ll lose all track of time. Also the impulsive gear buying/trading/selling is ridiculous and it’s something I’m working on.

I do think that a hyper focused brain can be incredibly creative, but I have to say I do get kind of bummed on the “adhd is my super power” thing. I don’t want to be someone else and wouldn’t trade my experiences, family and friends for anything, but it’s difficult not to think about how different life could have been with a “typical” brain.

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I was diagnosed as a kid. I have huge issues with time management and freezing up and spending many hours trying to get started on one task instead of just doing one. I’m still in the process of developing some coping mechanisms for things and I have gotten a lot more productive in recent years. Sometimes it’s super difficult to start, others it’s easy and I get sucked in for way too long resulting in myself being awake for many hours. I do think that my being like this does play a big part in the way my creativity manifests but I don’t nessecarily think it’s a key component either.

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When it comes to work, I find that people like me (ADHD or not, but similar) don’t do well in a modern office enviroment (who does, eh?). The expectation or constant work for the duration of your working hours is impossible to me. I can not and will never work like that. But if you rather consider, will shit get done or not? That’s where I shine. I’ll do anything expected of me, but I can’t do it in a cubicle for 8 hours straight. This I understood fairly young & have found a profession where my scattered mind can be very useful, provided I have a boss who understands my strenghts and weaknesses and sees past rigid workplace rules.

I feel like many people struggling with their neuroatypical behaviour patterns are stuck in a position that expects and demands a neurotypical person. I feel very thankful that I have found a job where I am allowed to perform the way I best can.

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I strongly suspected too but was examined by a psychiatrist and since I had very few symptoms when I was a kid, it’s highly unlikely that I am.

For everybody here who suspect something, I must remind you that there are many psychological atypicalities and disorders that have similar “symptoms” and many problems we encounter in everyday life can be explained in several different ways. For example, in order to diagnose ADHD, it is imperative to exclude anxiety and depression because all these have very similar characteristics. Moreover, ADHD, autism, giftedness also can be very similar depending on the person’s personality and other factors.

All this to say that you should be careful with self diagnosis, because it can hurt your ability to get better. My advice if you suspect anything is to check with a professional.

Personaly I almost hoped I had ADHD because I would be able to explain so much about myself and maybe medicate, so when I learnt I didn’t, it was difficult. But now I feel relieved and was able to deal with a lot of my anxiety, and I would not have been able to do so if I had focused on a non existent ADHD.

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I’ve worked with people with ADHD on and off my whole adult life, both kids and adults.
With kids, ADHD exposes the lie of diversity in schools. I wouldn’t wish schools on any teenager with ADHD. Ive seen too much potential wasted by the unwillingness of the UK education system to accept that some people just aren’t going to be able to learn by sitting on a hard plastic chair for an hour at a time where they are usually expected to sit still and keep quiet. Yes, a lot of kids get misdiagnosed, but ADHD is real, and needs to be taken more seriously, as the current method of doping kids up on amphetamines to keep them compliant is not going to be judged kindly in the future.

The adults I’ve known with ADHD were mostly university students, so had mostly been brought up in supportive environments, often home schooled or otherwise schooled in alternative environments where their diversity could be both accommodated and honed as any other skill would be. If approached correctly, ADHD can be a creative superpower. As people come to a better understanding of ADHD, I would expect to see a great many more people with ADHD reaching their potential.

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I think I have it as well… but I don’t have time right now – I just started 5 projects I need to switch between (seriously) :smiley:

I grew up in an era where the only option for learning was to sit quietly for 1-2 hours and listen to a teacher talk, maybe copy some text from the blackboard now and then. No small groups, no support for neuroatypical students. If you couldn’t do it, you were sent to the hallway to sit outside of the classroom to read quietly. I was always sent outside. My grades were shit, like D’s on every subject for the whole of grammar & high school. I only started to find my place when I was old enough to qualify for adult programmes in trade schools, where the curriculum was structured with the assumption that most students worked a full time job on the side. I aced those classes and graduated with straight A’s.

I’m extremely happy that kids nowadays get schooling in ways that actually work for them. My own experiences made me hate school and distrust teachers, something I’ve actually struggled with as an adult student.

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