Name Sage: Musical Boy Names
By Abby Sandel
This musical family has named three daughters, all inspired by song. But now that they’re expecting a boy, all the names sound flat! What fits with the theme for a son?
I have 3 daughters with musical names: Cadence, Melody, and Aria. I thought for sure we would be having another girl and I was already set on the name Joy Elise. They are a reference to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and “Für Elise.”
Anyway … it’s a boy, due in May! We were thinking Reed, but I don’t love that name.
The name doesn’t necessarily have to be musical, and I don’t want it to be something that is too weird or not really a name. We also don’t want to repeat an initial, so no L, Y, M, C, or A.
We have considered:
-Apollo, for the Greek god of music. But now we have Aria. Plus, everybody laughed at Apollo, and I would prefer to avoid that kind of reaction.
-Nathaniel, for Nat King Cole
-Dorian, but I keep thinking of Finding Dory
-Beckett, but it’s not musical
The Name Sage replies:
My impulse is to help you find a name for your son that’s every bit as musical as Cadence, Melody, and Aria. We’ve got some great lists of musical baby names .
But here’s the tricky thing about naming sons versus naming daughters: Aria, Melody, and Cadence all feel mainstream. They’ve ranked in the Top 250 – or higher! – in recent years. When I think about comparable musical names for boys, like Drummer, Chord, and Key? None of them have even cracked the Top 1000.
Based on your experience with Apollo, I suspect you’d rather stick with something that feels familiar. That leaves you with Reed. And … well, Reed. Or maybe Lyric?
The right approach for your family is probably different. Just as you took inspiration from Beethoven for Joy Elise, how about finding a favorite musician whose name could work for a son? Without knowing your personal favorites, I’ll make some guesses based on the greats from various genres.
One consideration: the more widely recognized the musician referenced, the more your son’s name might feel like a fit with Cadence, Melody, and Aria. But if you’re all about an obscure Baroque composer whose name happens to make your heart sing? That should go to the top of your list!
Dylan – As with Lennon and Hendrix, at least some of the boys named Dylan were inspired by the legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The much-decorated musician has won a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize for his lyrics, and he was an early inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, Dylan has been a Top 100 favorite for boys since the 1990s, so it might not feel obviously musical.
Fife – Okay, I’m cheating here, because this name is decidedly not mainstream. But in our age of Finn, Fife strikes me as a name that could fit in nicely, especially considering his sisters’ names. Fife is both a Scottish place name and a small woodwind. It’s associated with folk music, as well as the military – think of Fife and Drum Corps. If choices like Dylan and Jude seem too subtle for you, perhaps it’s time to re-consider picks like Fife and Drummer and Chord.
Jude – There are plenty of reasons to choose this name, but the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” factors into many parents’ decisions. It might even be the best-known song title containing a masculine name. It appears in the current US Top 200, which makes it broadly familiar.
Miles – Jazz legend Miles Davis lends his first name some serious style. And yet, Davis wasn’t the first to answer to the long-used name. Myles Standish sailed on the Mayflower, and plenty of other men answered to Miles over the ages. That makes this choice traditional, but still infused with all the spirit of the influential musician.
Parker – Then there’s Charlie Parker, another legendary jazz musician who often performed with Miles Davis. Despite being from the same era, I’m not sure if Parker feels as instantly tied to the artist as Miles does, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to explain you’d named your son, at least in part, for the saxophonist.
Sebastian – Let’s switch to classical music now. From Johann Sebastian Bach to Belle & Sebastian, this name has ties to music across the ages. Your daughters might think of one more: Horatio Thelonius Ignatius Crustaceus Sebastian, the royal court composer and Ariel’s sidekick in The Little Mermaid. Popular over many years and across languages, Sebastian sounds like a brother for Cadence, Melody, and Aria.
Van – Since Joy Elise was your top pick for a daughter, I wondered about Beethoven-inspired boy names. Beethoven is a non-starter, and Ludwig feels like too much. But how about Van? Most often, it’s part of a longer surname – think Vincent van Goh – and typically means of or from. If it doesn’t feel quite right as a first, I wonder if it might make a smashing middle.
Overall, my top pick for you is Miles – except it conflicts with Melody’s M. So I’ll put Sebastian Fife or Dylan Van at the top of my list of boys’ names. But I think this question really goes back to you and your husband. What are your all-time favorite musicians and influences? In their names, I suspect you’ll find musical inspiration for a son that goes well with Cadence, Melody, and Aria.
Readers, have I missed any obvious musical name options that don’t feel too out-there? What would you suggest as a brother for Cadence, Melody, and Aria?