Considering the fact that just about everyone on the planet listens to music every day, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a lot of people are interested in music tattoos. Unlike most other types of tattoos, music tattoos have different meanings depending on who the owner of the tattoo is and what music means to them.
There are also thousands of ways that you can get a music tattoo made, including your favorite artist, musical notes, or even musical instruments.
Music is much more than a tune or melody; it is an innate facet of every human culture on Earth. The beat of a beloved song is, at its most basic state, a representation of the heartbeat that sustains each living person on the planet. In this way, music is a metaphor for life and is a popular theme for tattoos for those who have a devotion to music and vitality.
There are several ways to symbolize music, including instruments and musical notation. These images most often portray the devotion of a musician to his or her music or a dedication to the production and creation of music in some other way.
On this page, we will take a look at some of the most commonly used music tattoos as well as the meanings attached to those pieces. We’ll also cover some design options that you will have if you do decide to get a music tattoo.
Popular Music Tattoo Meanings
Musical notation is one of the most popular symbolic expressions of the music lover. This includes anything that can be seen on a piece of sheet music including music notes (eighth notes, quarter notes, half or whole notes), bass or treble clefs, any form of the bars or measures usually including notes, or even a time signature.
The meaning behind these tattoos totally depends on the owner since it usually represents a key moment when the music hits them in a special way. Of course, plenty of people choose a musical note as their music tattoo because it can fit just about anywhere on the body and it also can represent everything that they love about music.
A measure, or sequence of notes, of a particular song, could be chosen to convey a connection to what that song represents or a single note or clef to portray a more general dedication to music. A person who plays bass, for example, might get a bass clef tattooed while someone who plays piano, which includes both bass and treble, may opt for both clefs. If you play an instrument and want to show how important it is to you through a tattoo, then you are a great candidate for a music tattoo.
Probably the most popular instrument tattoo is the guitar. Even people who do not play the guitar will get one of these tattoos simply because they love music and they love the look of the guitar in tattoo form. You can very easily customize one of these designs by getting your own favorite acoustic or electric guitar or coming up with a totally unique design.
The microphone tattoo is yet another popular music tattoo because it has obvious and deeper, not-so-obvious meanings attached to it. The most obvious reason for getting a microphone design is if you are a singer and singing is one of the most important parts of your life. You can also get a mic tattoo if you want to show that you feel you have an important voice and you deserve to be heard. Microphone designs are perfect choices for music lovers who want to get a forearm tattoo, though they can also be shrunken down to fit on the wrist or even the finger.
One music tattoo that seems to be growing in popularity every year is the cassette tape tattoo. This is a fantastic option for people who like retro-looking tats as well as those who want to show that they grew up in the ’80s or ’90s. You could even add additional meanings to the cassette tape by writing a favorite song on the tape.
Other Music Tattoo Meanings
Fans of the piano have plenty of design options to choose from, but regardless of the design these tats usually have similar meanings. You can get just a few piano keys in your tattoo, or you could even opt to get a fully detailed grand piano in your design. Most people learn to play music on a piano, so it’s not too surprising at all that so many people are interested in piano tattoos.
One cool music tattoo that is rising in the ranks is the play button tattoo. This simple triangle that can have simple or deep meanings. You can get one to show that you love modern music or that you can often be found with your headphones on. It can also represent a person’s want to get out there and “play” rather than watch time go by in front of them. Most play button tattoo designs show the button itself surrounded by a circle.
Another popular instrument tattoo is the drum tattoo. Obviously, if you love music and you happen to be a drummer, this is a great music tattoo idea for you. You can get a full setup, you might opt instead to get a smaller drum, such as bongo or a cajon.
Drums not only show off a person’s love for the instrument, they can also represent the owner’s marches to the beat of their own drum. Drum tattoos can work just about anywhere on the body, but more often than not people like to fill large areas with these designs, such as the back or the thigh area.
Many musical symbols, like the f indication forte or “loud”, can be used as a symbol to represent living an impulsive or liberating type of lifestyle or a vivacious personality. The p for piano or “soft” could indicate the opposite, a shy or quiet, meek type of person. There are dozens of other Italian words (Crescendo which means “growing”, decrescendo meaning “gradually growing softer”, calando meaning “becoming calmer”, etc.) are used in musical notation that is often taken as images to symbolize certain aspects of an individual’s personality.
Music Tattoo Designs and Placement
What’s really great about music tattoos is that you can easily customize them to make them fit wherever you need them to. If you know you want music and you also know that you want to get a sleeve, then you have something to work with. Of course, if you’re not an artist you will want to be sure to find someone who can make your idea a reality.
Musical notation is often used along with other swirling linework to create a fuller, connected piece. Treble and bass clefs are often integrated into the image of musical instruments or record or tape players to symbolize the playing and sound of music. Sometimes the two, bass and treble clef, are placed together to form a heart shape, representing the love of music and the significance of it in one’s life. Symbols of musical notation are also used to comprise other images like birds or other animals to represent the innate place of music in nature.
Flowers and floral patterns are used as well to create a feminine tattoo and emphasize the individual’s affiliation with the natural world. Flowers, especially roses, accompanied by sheets of music or musical notation create a classically romantic design that often includes lyrics from a favorite love song. These are generally larger pieces that may be dedicated to a spouse or loved one.
The layers of a rose can be made of sheets of music rather than typical petals to compose a unique and feminine tattoo. Sheets of music work to create birds, trees, and other images that are important to the individual as well.
Some tattoo designs use music notes and symbols to create words like “love” and “hope” or “music”. These are generally simpler designs that allow the notes to speak for themselves. EKG lines are often incorporated with music tattoos, intertwining notes with the peaks and dips of the heartbeat. Designs like these symbolize the place of music within the individual and its necessity in their lives. They evoke the natural beat within each living and breathing creature and serve as a reminder of music’s integral place in the world.
Aside from musical notation, there are other symbols that automatically translate to “a love of music” such as headphones, tapes, CDs, record players, speakers or any other instrument used to create or listen to music. Headphones and microphones are very popular types of music tattoos. Headphones are a symbol of a listener of music and one who constantly has music playing in their heads and minds as an escape from reality.
Microphone tattoos are popular amongst singers and are often tattooed on the wrist, near the hand where the microphone is held. The cord connected to the headphones or microphone can be rendered as an EKG line, song lyrics in a handwritten script, or anything else that emphasizes a love of music.
The symbols of action on a tape or CD player (play, pause, forward, backward, stop) are often used as a simple music tattoo that can be placed on the fingers or other small areas of the body. Taken from a music-playing device, these minute icons are a representation of an escape from the world into the world of music. These buttons reference a control that one has over the music as well as the control that music has over them. Phrases or lyrics may be included in these tattoo designs as well such as “Music is Life” or other important quotes.
Is the Music Tattoo Right for You?
If you love music and it is an extremely important part of your life, then you are definitely a good candidate to get a music tattoo. It’s completely up to you what type of meanings you attach to your music tattoo; heck, even just saying that you love listening to music can be a good enough reason to get one of these tattoos.
What’s most important is that you take your time when coming up with a design for your music tattoo. The truth is that there are thousands of great options, which can make the process pretty difficult for some people. You will probably want to consult with a local tattoo artist to get a second opinion on the type of musical tattoo that you should get as well as where it will look best on your body.
If you take your time when choosing a music tattoo and the meanings you want to attach to it, then chances are you will end up with a design that you will always be happy with. Unlike some of the other popular tattoo types out there right now, people rarely regret getting music tattoos since our love for our favorite bands, songs, and music in general doesn’t fade over time.