Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Musical Listening Tests

1. Reference
Musical Listening Tests
University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Univeristy of Montreal
Test created by Isabelle Pertez
For Dr. Lee Bartel – Music and the Brain 2122H
A Summary, Review and Response
Lani Sommers

1. Summary
This test was created by Isabelle Pertez along with researchers at the University of Montreal and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. There are two tests consisting of 30 pairs of tunes. A test candidate must listen to each pair and indicate whether they are the same or different. The idea is to test the subject’s ability to identify small differences in melody and rhythm. Since first being launched in 2006 the test has been taken 145,073 times and the second test was added in 2007 and was taken 50,470. The average test score is about 25 where most people got five of the listening pairs wrong out of the 30 pairs.

The test was created to study and diagnose amusia and tone deafness. So far results have shown that amusia is a defecit of tune rather than of time. A score of below 22 could indicate that the subject has amusia, however, the test cut-off varies with age.

3. Response
I completed the test twice. The first time I got 28/30 and 29/30 and on the second attempt I got 28/30 and 27/30 putting me well above the average of 25. (I blame the wrong answers on my neighbour’s loud children that distracted me during the test). It was really interesting to participate in the study, though, I have to admit it brought me back to my undergrad days. During my undergrad, music students were forced to complete hours upon hours of interval studies, melodic dictation and other forms of musical torture using the MacIntosh software program called, MacGamut (which the undergrads lovingly referred to as MacDammit - because that's what you would say when you made too many mistakes in a row!). I had to really make myself focus and not think about the the traumatic times I spent listening to intervals over and over again and having to restart the program after too many slip-ups in a row.

It is safe to say that after completing the tests that I have regular music perception and I am definitely not tone deaf or suffer from amusia. The test takes quite a bit of concentration, even for someone like myself with a musical background. I’m not sure my high school students could sit through this test with absolute focus the entire time. The test subject must also ensure that there are no noise distractions nearby while completing the test as this can lead to a skewed result.

I was proud to be test subject 145,073 and 50,470 respectively and was a little nervous to get my test results back. What if I made many mistakes? Would that make me a bad music teacher and musician? Will I have to go back to my undergrad and spend many more hours using the MacGamut software to sharpen my musical listening skills? I was pleased and relieved to see that I was well above average and had nothing to worry about in regards to my own musical perception.

I highly recommend that everyone in the class take the test! Go to www.delosis.com/listening to try it out! I am going to ask that my family members also take the test as part of the research is to see if there is correlation between family members and musical perception.

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