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?
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on February 7th, 2018 at 12:10 am
Hi just letting you know that “Van Gogh” was misspelt. And I would suggest Coda (musically, the end of a song). Probably would be most appropriate for the final child in a family but I love it for either gender.
on February 7th, 2018 at 12:16 am
I will also throw Jazz and Harp into the ring… both also feel appropriate for either gender but I think better for a boy. Good luck!
on February 7th, 2018 at 12:38 am
Actually, Beckett is musical but you would have to know emo/alternative music from the early/mid 2000’s. William Beckett is a singer-songwriter, former frontman of the band The Academy Is… though like I said unless a fan of that music no one is going to get the connection.
Canon is one of my favorite musical names, and it feels almost mainstream in this day and age. In music, a canon is a contrapuntal (counterpoint-based) compositional technique that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g., quarter rest, one measure, etc.).
Okay so it is known more as a nickname for Thomas, Tom is also a drum.
Gibson, for the guitar company.
Marshall, for the amplifier company.
That is all I can think of to add.
on February 7th, 2018 at 1:16 am
The only ones I can think of at the moment are kind of “out there”, like Bowie, Beck, Banjo, Anthem (but you didn’t want to use an ‘A’ name), Johann (as in Bach), Tone, Baritone (nickname “Bear”?), anything with the initials DJ or MC (like emcee), Jackson (Michael), Harper, Solo, Strummer, Guitar (would reference a Maya Angelou character), Allegro, Bass (mispronunciations!), Demo, Track (very Palin-family), Tune, Opus, Medley.
Just don’t pick Operaman, or you will evoke those hilarious SNL skits with Adam Sandler.
on February 7th, 2018 at 1:35 am
I would suggest:
Django (Jazz musician Django Reinhardt)
Presley (Elvis Presley)
Lars (Lars Ulrich from Metallica)
Van (Beethoven or Van Halen)
Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix)
Miles (Miles Davis)
Fitzgerald “Fitz” (Ella Fitzgerald)
Benjamin “Benny” (Benny Goodman)
Asa (Al Jolson, born Asa Yoelson)
Francis “Frank” or “Frankie” (Frank Sinatra)
Jude (Hey Jude by The Beatles)
on February 7th, 2018 at 2:11 am
I love the idea of Jude! Cadence, Melody, Aria & Jude is so cute, it fits perfectly. Dylan is pretty cute too. I also like Reed! Beside that..
Beckett could be inspired by Beck 🙂
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Wolfgang
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Haydn
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Lyric (I know you said no repeating those letters but I feel like it’s so perfect it shouldn’t be over looked!)
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Saxon (not technically musical but sounds like Saxophone kind of lol)
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Louie (Armstrong, the song)
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Jazz
Cadence, Melody, Aria & Frank (read the suggestion and I love it so much!)
on February 7th, 2018 at 4:34 am
Sold on Banjo!
on February 7th, 2018 at 7:48 am
What a fun sibset.
I really like Alto (or Aalto, which would also reference the architect/designer) for this sibset, but I realise it repeats the A of Aria.
A few more suggestions (sticking to mostly classical music, to fit with your girls’ names):
Musicians & musical works:
Amadeus – for Mozart
Johannes – for Brahms
Ludwig – for Beethoven and/or Mendelssohn
Edvard/Edward – for Grieg
Grieg – for Edvard : )
Ravel – for Maurice Ravel
Cavalli/Valli/ Francesco/Francis/Frankie – for Francesco Cavalli and/or Frankie Valli
Adler – for Samuel Adler, a composer and conductor (and/or for other musical Adlers, such as Cisco Adler, Danny Adler, Chris Adler, Jerry Adler, Larry Adler, Steven Adler and Lou Adler)
Gustav – for Holst
Elgar – for Edward Elgar
Orlando – for the opera by Handel
William – for the William Tell Overture
Some religious and mythological figures associated with music:
Angus – a god of the old Irish religion, associated with music.
David – for King David, noted in Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths as an accomplished musician
Linus – a number of Greek myths mention Linus of Thrace, sometimes a son of Apollo and/or Calliope. Sometimes he is named as a brother of Orpheus. He is strongly associated with music, especially dirges
Gregorian/Gregory/ Grigor – For Gregory the Great is often associated with music, and the Gregorian chant is named after him. Gregorian also reminds me of Slava Grigoryan
Cecil – for St Cecilia, the patron saint of music
Benedict – for Benedict Biscop, an Anglo-Saxon saint associated with Roman-style chanting and singing in the early medieval English church.
Dunstan -for Dunstan of Canterbury, an Anglo-Saxon saint who was highly regarded as a musician
Harvey/Hervé – for St Hervé, also known as St Harvey. He is said to have roamed the land as a bard (with a wolf!), singing to pay his way.
Roman – for Romanos the Melodist (a hymnographer)
Or, more ‘word-y’:
Repeating initials: Clarion, Coro, Canto, Largo, Mosso
on February 7th, 2018 at 9:05 am
Cadence, Melody, Aria, and…
I really like kennamoon’s suggestion of Wolfgang (nn Wolf!), but also:
Hymn (although I wonder if the homophone ‘him’ is a little on the nose for the lone boy among three girls)
For what it’s worth, Miles and Sebastian are my favorites from Abby’s list.
on February 7th, 2018 at 9:19 am
I like Chord.
Here are some ideas:
Rock (as in Rock and Roll)
Taliesin (Welsh bard)
Noel (it’s another word for carol, Christmas carol)
on February 7th, 2018 at 9:25 am
Brahm (Johannes Brahms)
Jasper (nn Jazz)
on February 7th, 2018 at 9:56 am
on February 7th, 2018 at 10:17 am
From the perspective of Fife, with a bit more of a substaintial “name” vibe-
Fifer or Pfeifer or Piper
Music word names:
Vox (means “voice” in Latin)
Tom (toms are the mid-range drums on a drum set)
Snare (also a kind of drum)
Sonus (Latin for sound)
Alto (typically a female voice range, but the word is masculine- would fit with current names like Aldo and Arlo)
Soprano (similar to Alto)
Mythology of music:
Orpheus (played the lyre)
Phoebus (Apollo’s “first” name- Phoebus Apollo)
on February 7th, 2018 at 10:56 am
I think for a boy your best bet might be to go with a name of a famous musician or famous work that you love. I do like the suggestion of Coda, but it’s a repeating initial.
Wolf (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Tristan (Tristan und Isolde)
Brahm (Johannes Brahms)
Ravel (Maurice Ravel)
Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas)
on February 7th, 2018 at 11:30 am
I like Sebastian and the suggestion of Gibson.
Simon (for Paul)
Lennon (for John)
on February 7th, 2018 at 11:39 am
Barry/Bari- like Baritone
Wolfgang/Wolf- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
on February 7th, 2018 at 1:02 pm
No L, Y, M, C, A…
Benjamin- Benny Goodman
Steven- Stevie Wonder
Jonas- “My Name is Jonas” by Weezer
Nikolai- Rimsky- Korsakov
on February 7th, 2018 at 2:12 pm
Lots of great recommendations and lots of choice when it comes to honor/surnames. Which I think would be a good way to go if your ok with a style a little different from the girls. But a little more modern and rock n roll feels right in my opinion for a boy. But it would probably be best to honor a musician or composer that means something to you and the SO.
I really like Coda, but I get not repeating initials. I think Fife and Jazz are some of my other favorites. Reed is actually really nice too. Gibson is undeniably musical but again rock n roll and maybe against your style.
Pan is also the god of rustic music.
Also maybe Barit, as in short for baritone. It is unusual but it’s on nameberry as an alt spelling for Barrett. NN Barry? But I don’t think it needs one. It has a lot of modern on trend sounds while being unusual.
Good luck in the search!
on February 7th, 2018 at 2:22 pm
Here are my suggestions:
– Nash / Nashville – the music capital of the US, also a reference to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
– Simon – for Simon & Garfunkel
– Cash – for Johnny Cash (but I know you said no C names)
– Odin – a Nordic god of art and poetry, also lends itself to the nickname “Ode”
– Muse – both the ancient Greek muse and the modern band. Apparently Nameberry thinks this is a girls’ name, but I think it’s unisex. I know you said no M names, though.
From others’ suggestions, I like Brahms, Jude, Amadeus and Wolfgang (nickname: Wolf).
on February 7th, 2018 at 3:30 pm
Ballard came to mind first as your girl names remind me of vocal / musical themes / types of song
Referencing the fourth child
Fraiser Nn phrase
on February 7th, 2018 at 5:32 pm
At first I was thinking Lyric but… Sebastian! Cadence, Melody, Aria, and Sebastian sound fantastic together!
on February 7th, 2018 at 6:49 pm
There are a lot of Italian words in music that I think would make good boy names!
Some of the ones that I think would fit best with your family, due to the obvious musical nature of the name and also its wearability for a boy are:
Concerto (nn Connor)
Libretto (nn Brett)
Presto (nn Preston if he wants something more normal)
And my personal favorite: Forte (meaning “strong” in Italian)
Some more obscure musical terms that could work as a boy’s name are:
Andate (nn Andy)
Andantino (nn Andy, Dante, Tino)
Calando (nn Cal)
Marcato (nn Marc)
Dolce (already has name cred – Dolce & Gabbana)
Pensato (nn Penn)
And my personal favorite of this list: Vivace (means “vivacious” and sounds a bit similar to Vivaldi and Versace)
on February 7th, 2018 at 7:02 pm
My first thought was Bowie; I was rather surprised that the Sage didn’t list it. Or, how about Fender, as in guitar?
on February 7th, 2018 at 9:03 pm
Andante! Nn Andy, Danny, or Dante
on February 7th, 2018 at 10:05 pm
Tallis (for composer Thomas Tallis)
Andrea or Andreas (Andrea Bocelli)
Frank (Frank Sinatra)
Zene (music in Hungarian)
Phillip (Phillip Glass)
Antonio (Antonio Vivaldi)
on February 7th, 2018 at 11:36 pm
Try Miles. It’s totally awesome name for a boy!
on February 8th, 2018 at 2:40 am
I know a family with this same theme. They had a daughter named Melody and wanted a musical name for their son. They chose Jaron.
Jaron is variant of Yaron, a Hebrew name meaning “He who sings or shouts praises”. Yaron is derived from the Hebrew word ron, which simply means “to sing or shout praise”.
on February 8th, 2018 at 5:16 am
A valved brass musical instrument belonging to the saxhorn or flügelhorn families
A musical composition for a choir, usually set to words from the Bible, sung as part of a church service
Ben or Bene
Well; in ben marcato (“well marked”) for example
A shallow one-sided drum popular in Irish and Scottish folk music
Boldness; as in con bravura, boldly
Vigour; usually in con brio: with spirit or vigour
Breve – music note
Chanson (French pronunciation: [ʃɑ̃sɔ̃], “song”, from Latin cantio, gen. cantionis) is in general any lyric-driven French song
Hymn – clearly a boy’s name, ha!
Jete (Fr. jeté)
Jump; a bowing technique in which the player is instructed to let the bow bounce or jump off the strings.
A piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, in three-four time
Marked (i.e. with accentuation, execute every note as if it were to be accented)
A piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, usually characterized by a slow stately triple time
on February 8th, 2018 at 10:46 am
I love the idea of Jazz- Jazz could be a nickname for Jasper or even Jason, which are both much less ‘out there’.
on February 10th, 2018 at 2:14 am
Kingston – Trio
Sousa – John Philip
Claves- percussion instrument
Birdie Largo Said
on February 10th, 2018 at 5:29 pm
I like Treble, for the Treble clef. Also Gillespie or Coltrane. Maybe Crescendo? I’m surprised Cello hasn’t popped up here, or maybe I missed it. How about Brass or String?
on February 10th, 2018 at 11:40 pm
Melody, Cadence, Aria, and Tenor would be great!
(I like that since his sisters are ‘wordy,’ he would be also, rather than a musician’s name, which is obviously more ‘namey.’)
on February 11th, 2018 at 7:20 am
I love Chord but my husband is not s fan. I love Bowie and my Favorite is Townes (after Townes Van Zant)
on February 12th, 2018 at 12:54 am
Don’t have time to read all the comments, but I love Cello, Bechet, Bix, Coltrane, Bowie, Ellington, Dorsey, and Gershwin.
on February 18th, 2018 at 10:31 pm
I love the suggestions of Tempo, Tenor, and Forte!
Joplin (as in the ragtime composer; only issue may be that people might think it’s a girl)
Bard (a singing poet; I think this one wouuld be perfect!)
I would probably suggest Tempo, Tenor, or Bard, with Bard being my favourite. It is a distinctive word that is connected with music and the art of storytelling and poetry, but it doesn’t sound like you’re “trying to hard” to have a theme, which some of the other musical names for boys can sound like. Cadence, Melody, and Aria are all beautiful on their own as well as together, not needing a theme to give their names legitimacy. I believe that Bard can do that as well. (Note, then you’d have an A, B, and C. Not sure if that’s something you want to avoid.)
All the best naming your baby! I love music, so I can totally see myself looking for names in this area at some point in the happy future! 🙂
on February 20th, 2018 at 9:57 pm
Buddy- As in Buddy Holly, a 1950s rock and roll musician. His given name was Charles Hardin Holley, which might give you a more “mainstream” option if Buddy isn’t to your liking. Or there is Buddy Bolden, a jazz cornetist, who was also Charles.
Sebastian- As in Johann Sebastian Bach? The Baroque composer known for Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations. Sebastian is a familiar handsome name that won’t make people do a double take when they hear it, but will allow you to have a musically inclined name.
King- You said that you have considered Nathaniel for Nat King Cole, why not look at Cole or King? In recent years, King has risen in favor, so no one would be overly surprised by this name for a little boy today. King could also be a tribute to King Oliver, a jazz cornet player. (This would also allow for Oliver to be a musical link, I suppose.) As for Cole, it is a classic that has been used for many years. Neither of these names are overly musical, however it is a tribute to someone, I presume you like. Though I don’t suppose Cole will be on your list since you don’t want to repeat initials.
Daniel- Daniel is a lovely name that is a sneaky tribute to Louis Armstrong as it is his middle name.
Theodore- Now this is a name I absolutely love, and it just happens to fit your preferences! This name links to Sonny Rollins also known by his given name of Walter Theodore Rollins. He is a highly recognized jazz tenor saxophonist. Theodore lends itself to a few nicknames as well, and again is not an obvious musical name.
From this list, my favorites are Daniel and Theodore. Both to my ear sound lovely with Cadence, Melody, and Aria.
Those are all of the names that came to mind. I hope they help. I do hope you find the name that suits your little one and your name preferences.
Congratulations, and good luck on your naming journey!
on February 25th, 2018 at 4:45 pm
I really like the idea of Nathaniel with the sisters’ names: Cadence, Melody, Aria, and Nathaniel.
Another option I like is Gabriel. Flows nicely with the girls and is taken from the name of classical composer Gabriel Faure.
These two both end in the “iel” which makes it flow better with the girls’ gentler names. Names like Jazz or Dylan sound a lot more active than the soft Cadence, the tongue roller Melody, and the glimmering Aria. Gabriel and Nathaniel retain that more professional, gentle flow and therefore even sound more musical with his sisters.
on February 25th, 2018 at 4:47 pm
Tempo is a more musical choice that goes nicely with the girls’ artful names, but very much more masculine.
on March 18th, 2018 at 4:32 am
I know that this was made quite a while ago, but if the parents still haven’t found the right name then what about Ostin? It’s pronounced the same as Austin and Austen so is well-known enough not to be ‘weird’. It comes from the musical term ‘ostinato’. It was just a thought, I hope they find the right name!
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