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Musical Listening Study
February 7, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

The Musical Listening test is harder than it sounds, no pun intended. Hosted at the University of Newcastle at Tyne, it is a study of musical perception in the general population. Listen to two short melodic phrases and decide if they are the same or different.
posted by pjern (57 comments total)

 
I scored 28 out of 30 despite a lifetime of litening to classical music and Jazz. I thought that it would be a lot easier to ace this one than it is.
posted by pjern at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2006


That's Newcastle upon Tyne....
posted by zeoslap at 11:51 AM on February 7, 2006


29 of 30... and I knew as soon as I clicked that I was wrong on that one....

Ear Training was my favorite part of studying music, from when I first started all the way through college.
posted by blastrid at 11:53 AM on February 7, 2006


27. Not bad considering I'm neither musically inclined nor particularly perceptive.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:55 AM on February 7, 2006


25/30 while on hold listening to muzak
posted by papakwanz at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2006


Why do I even take these things? A 22, for shame.
posted by cgc373 at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2006


30 out of 30 here. I was never good at ear training in college, maybe I've learned to listen better as I've grown older.
posted by MotherTucker at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2006


30 out of 30. The differences between the two samples weren't subtle for my test.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2006


26 despite my years of classical piano training. My old teacher must be weeping someplace. (I was cooking breakfast at the time, though.)

Couple of observations:

- There were definitely some repetitions. I am wondering if the same pair gets played twice to check for consistency (i.e., to determine if the test-taker is just guessing), or if it has something to do with determining whether previous familiarity with a tune has something to do with recognition.

- It seems like a lot of the "wrong" pairs were off just by a half-step or so. It actually made it quite easy to pick those out, because the resulting tune was really dissonant.

Fun little test, though.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 12:02 PM on February 7, 2006


25 of 30. Most weren't subtle at all. I guess 5 were, to me, at least.

On the other hand, the music was competing with the FREAKING LOUD LAUGHING AND CARRYING ON IN THE NEXT CUBICLE. Oh, wait, sorry, I guess they aren't reading this.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:04 PM on February 7, 2006


27 out of 30, which is awesome considering how musically dense I am. In yo face, classically trained musicians!!
posted by selfmedicating at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2006


29 out of 30, which is awesome considering how musically fantastic I am. In yo face, amateur non-musicians!
posted by evinrude at 12:09 PM on February 7, 2006


27 out of 30, which is disappointing seeing how well everybody else did. In yo face, me!
posted by spacewaitress at 12:12 PM on February 7, 2006


I detect that the above comments are subtly different.
posted by Gyan at 12:17 PM on February 7, 2006


27 out of 30. Most differences were pretty obvious.
posted by Meagan at 12:21 PM on February 7, 2006


There's more ear training stuff here.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:24 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30. They could have actually tried to fool you on some of them, say, by keeping a few of the black sheep notes AT LEAST IN THE SAME KEY.
posted by Emotive Adamantium at 12:33 PM on February 7, 2006


30 out of 30. Easy as cake. First sample was always nice and melodic. Second sample, if there was a difference between the two, always contained one bum note that jumped right out at me.
posted by emelenjr at 12:44 PM on February 7, 2006


29 out of 30, and like blastrid I knew as soon as I clicked that it was wrong. That said, though, they didn't make it too hard other than on a couple; the out-of-key notes were so immediately jarring that they jumped out, though there were a couple that were a little more subtle.
posted by Len at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2006


29/30

I think I missed the very last one.
posted by reflection at 12:57 PM on February 7, 2006


My 25/30 was definitely overestimating how subtle the differences might be. I think most, maybe all, of my wrong answers were from thinking there was a difference when there wasn't. The sour notes stood out like crazy, but when the tune was fast, I would hear the same notes played in reverse. C-B-A instead of A-B-C. I wonder if there is such a thing as dyslexia for hearing. Dysacusia or something.
posted by team lowkey at 12:58 PM on February 7, 2006


25 out of 30. I have no formal musical training, though most of them did seem really obvious. I think the problem could have been my concentration and short-term memory rather than my musical abilities.
posted by 999 at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2006


28 of 30

it wasn't subtle at all. pretty sure the ones i missed were cause i thought there was some little difference that there really wasn't.
posted by teishu at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2006


24 right. Damn, now do I have to kill myself?
posted by damnitkage at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2006


30 out of 30, at least, I'd imagine that's what I'd get if I had ten minutes to listen to 30 pairs of musical samples.
posted by jonson at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2006


30 in your face(s)
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2006


24. I was thinking way too hard. It just seemed too simple to play one bum note from another key, so I was listening for smaller changes in note length and...oh fuck it. When in Rome...
posted by Ohdemah at 1:15 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30. I was pretty disappointed in the test; they would just replace one note by a really inappropriate one rather than doing anything more subtle.
posted by dfan at 1:15 PM on February 7, 2006


26. I too thought that they would be more subtle.
posted by gaspode at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2006


I take it all the differences were in tone, not in rhythm? I only got 25/30, and I'm beginning to think it's because I imagined subtle variations in the rhythms...
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:19 PM on February 7, 2006


29/30 and I knew I was wrong just as I was I clicking. Darn!

I was listening for all sorts of variations like note length, accents, etc... and it seems that everyone of them was because of dischordant notes. Too easy. (except for that one... yeah, YOU know which one, grr...)

:-)
posted by C.Batt at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2006


I got 28/30 which was much better than I expected at the beginning. I agree that the test was not nearly as subtle as it might have been (I have no idea what they're actually testing; maybe this is just a screening test).

Not only did I expect time signature and key changes, I expected perhaps something on the order of an optical illusion like the checkerboard with different shades of gray or the "afterimage clock" -- a musical piece that might sound different if a certain note is played just before it.

I had piano and trumpet as a kid, but was never very good, and to this day I can only vaguely appreciate when artists are playing around with time signatures.
posted by dhartung at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30 and I don't listen to music much. The wrong notes did seem pretty obvious.
posted by mrnutty at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2006


Reminiscence: I remember they used to give us a musical aptitute test at school each year. One of them involved testing perception of pitch by identifying whether a second note was the same, higher or lower, than a first, in a series of comparisons.

I think the test was on audio cassette or something. It must have been a single tape used by all the classes in the school every year, because as the years went on, those tones deteriated noticeably and it wasn't just my ears. I wonder if there were panicked headlines somewhere "Students musical ability in freefall" :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:37 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30. I thought it was all pretty obvious...
posted by ob at 1:41 PM on February 7, 2006


29/30 they definetly could have made it a lot harder, just listening to see if the second time around sounded out of key was about all you needed to do
posted by psychobum at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2006


27 - I think I was expecting some to be really SUBTLY off, which accounts for the three I gave wrong on I think. But really it CLANGS obviously on a lot of them. Anyone sign up for further testing? Kind of creepy, seems.

I did have the same fun feeling you get when you have your hearing tested with those faint tone tests, though. Thank you for the post.
posted by Peter H at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2006


26/30

I overthought it. I imagined little differences between identical melodies that weren't actual differences because I expected it to be hard. Reading over the comments it sounds like the ones with differences were obvious.
posted by sntamonica at 2:49 PM on February 7, 2006


Heh. 22 out of 30, which I thought was decent until I came here. I think I erred on the side of too many as "different" based on the comments here, but a lot of the low fidelity stuff that would get a hum or something going did sound different. Ah well. Maybe I'll take it again later with headphones.
posted by klangklangston at 2:54 PM on February 7, 2006


27/30. I sucked at piano as a child, and from the scores I see here, I now know why.
posted by reformedjerk at 3:10 PM on February 7, 2006


28/30. Like a few others, the 2 wrong were early on when I thought the differences might include slightly different timings and maybe the order of notes reversed. If I took it again I'd get 30 no bother. I wonder if that's what they're testing, since I can't imagine how it's possible to incorrectly mark two dissimilar tunes as being similar.
posted by salmacis at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2006


31
posted by HuronBob at 3:29 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30. Having done A Level music 7 years ago (and played piano and guitar for 17 years), we were trained in listening to melodies and notating them by ear. I guess the training helped, even though I was pretty terrible at it.

That said, I thought that the non-identical pairs were fairly obvious to me; the chromatic notes really stood out. I am now quite interested in what the study is aiming to achieve.
posted by Kiell at 4:30 PM on February 7, 2006


cosmicbandito: "I take it all the differences were in tone, not in rhythm? I only got 25/30, and I'm beginning to think it's because I imagined subtle variations in the rhythms..."

That's pretty much what happened to me, I think there were a couple that I thought "d'oh" after, but for sure, 3 I thought were rhythm problems...
posted by symbioid at 4:37 PM on February 7, 2006


31

I was waiting for someone to make that joke.
posted by Peter H at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2006


39
posted by Peter H at 4:47 PM on February 7, 2006


23 on the back of dinner with a lot of wine and some trees.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:15 PM on February 7, 2006


I didn't think the differences were all that subtle, but then I am noted for my tin ear. A couple of them leapt out at me, and maybe the 3 I got wrong were from overthinking it and imagining differences where there weren't any. But honestly while taking the test I had no clue what my score would be (it was 27). But if it had been 10 or 15 I wouldn't have been surprised - I just didn't know.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:22 PM on February 7, 2006


26 out of thirty and I am surprised. I thought I would suck at this.
posted by dhruva at 6:25 PM on February 7, 2006


24. I blew at least 2 because I thought maybe the second was in a different key. After the first ten I started to suspect that they weren't doing key changes. After the first twenty I realized they weren't doing timing changes.

I'm pretty sure all 6 of my wrong answers were "different" when they really were the same.
posted by bigbigdog at 7:37 PM on February 7, 2006


30 out of 30 here. I found the different ones VERY obvious. I guess some people have different gifts. I wish my gift was invisibility instead...
posted by Shfishp at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2006


I'm surprised so many people made it to the end....like everyone said, the bum notes stood out so much I stopped at 10 because there was no challenge. Of course, I probably would've missed a few had I continued.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:08 PM on February 7, 2006


27/30. I think I judged some different on the basis of imagined differences; there's no way I would have called two that were actually different the same because, as everyone else has observed, the different ones were all obviously different.
posted by kenko at 10:59 PM on February 7, 2006


Argh. It crapped out after finishing and there's no way I'm doing that again. If you're interested in this kind of stuff, musictheory.net has three Flash-based ear trainers (the last three on the "Trainers" drop-down) that are really good for practicing your ear.
posted by TimeFactor at 11:55 PM on February 7, 2006


30/30. The problem was that they used chromatic, rather than diatonic, neighbors to replace the different notes. If we're in the key of C major and you play and Ab the second time, it will be pretty obvious to most people.
posted by joshuaconner at 2:15 AM on February 8, 2006


30/30. They're not even doing anything tricky.
posted by aerify at 3:15 AM on February 8, 2006


29/30. I thought I detected a subtle rhythmic difference in no. 1 - soon realised that there was nothing that subtle going on, and the rest were obvious.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:21 AM on February 8, 2006


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