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January 11, 2011 1:25 AM   Subscribe

How musical are you? ← the test. The BBC is teaming up with researchers at Goldsmiths University of London to find out whether personality or practice creates great musicians.
posted by Gyan (79 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I did this last night - and scored in the 90's across the board. Boo ya!

/me whistles tunelessly as he ambles from the thread.
posted by Jofus at 1:49 AM on January 11, 2011


Logged in with BugMeNot and they gave me my results without any input from me. Very efficient.
posted by knave at 2:04 AM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. I really suck. But it's okay, because I only scored 1% on enthusiasm.

Yay. Me.
posted by lollusc at 2:31 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was worried about flunking the melody section, but I got 11 out of 12. Ended up with a musical perception score of 99%. This thing is grading on a massive curve.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 2:36 AM on January 11, 2011


...whether personality or practice creates great musicians

Don't have time to take the test right now (maybe tomorrow!) but it's both personality and practice, and to differing degrees depending on what sort of "great musicians" we're talking about. That I know for sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:53 AM on January 11, 2011


The Group the Music section was pretty fascinating. I made a completely wrong guess on what one of the genres was.
posted by majonesing at 3:00 AM on January 11, 2011


Many questions are badly put, but this one is my favorite:

When I sing, I have no idea whether I'm in tune or not

I would have to "completely agree" with this statement: I know for a fact I'm not in tune. Somehow I don't think that's the answer they're going for.
posted by lesli212 at 3:04 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I struggle with a spectrum of agreement for true or false questions. Regardless, I definitely heard No Diggity in the first exercise.
posted by doublehappy at 3:10 AM on January 11, 2011


And shit, everything sounds "on the beat" to me.
posted by doublehappy at 3:12 AM on January 11, 2011


I scored average across the board except in emotion and enthusiam, in which I got 100 and 95%.
posted by biochemist at 3:15 AM on January 11, 2011


Based on the number I got incorrect, I would have been graded somewhere around a C+, but it gave me 1% for music perception. In fact, it gave me low for everything except curiosity, which I do not feel was supported by my answers so much as my tendency to select "agree" instead of "strongly agree".
posted by Nothing at 3:15 AM on January 11, 2011


Enthusiasm 83%

Musical Perception 99%

Emotional Connection 93%

Social Creativity 99%

Musical Curiosity 98%

Nailed the Rock and Jazz genres, but mixed up the Pop and Hip hop a bit (but what the darn tootin is Hip Hop without the words, but pop really...). I got caught up in trying to match the riffs, chords, beats and forgot about the genre thing.

12/18 right on the On/off beat.

6 "High accuracy" and 3 "medium accuracy" on the Rhythm accuracy test.

8/12 right on the Melody Memory test, which frankly I thought I did better on.


My one beef is the beep in the On/Off Beat test. A click would've been less distracting and jarring.

Anyhow, I do go a bit crazy if I don't see live music regularly that is true.


Fun!
posted by Skygazer at 3:23 AM on January 11, 2011


Wow - I pretty much gave up the space-bar-beat exercise after the second tune and got medium-high across the board. Test is rigged to make people feel good about themselves.
posted by doublehappy at 3:32 AM on January 11, 2011


Yeah, everyone's a Mozart.
posted by Skygazer at 3:41 AM on January 11, 2011


With eclectic tastes.
posted by pracowity at 3:48 AM on January 11, 2011


doublehappy: "Test is rigged to make people feel good about themselves."

Hm. I must be an outlier or something because I'm feeling rather disheartened (and slightly confused).

Scored low (13% to 35%) on everything and kinda bombed every test... except the last one, which I was the most unsure about (group the music: screwed up pretty much every genre except jazz; match the beat: 10/18; tap to the beat: 2 high / 4 medium / 3 low; melody memory: 8/12, woohoo!).

I didn't think I was *that* bad. Yeesh.

*sings along anyway*
posted by junques at 3:58 AM on January 11, 2011


Not that anyone will be interested, but this seems as good a place as any to write down my scores:

Enthusiasm for music: 96%
Musical perception: 99%
Emotional connection: 89%
Social creativity: 37% (oh dear)
Musical curiosity: 90%
posted by idiomatika at 4:14 AM on January 11, 2011


I know I'm a decent singer-- I've been complimented on my voice before-- but I sure bombed that test. What was especially inexplicable that I scored 28% on "emotional connectivity" with music. The test tells me that "music doesn’t influence your feelings and that you rarely, if ever, use music to manage your mood." Hah, I know to disregard that test just from that!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 4:28 AM on January 11, 2011


Didn't score above 10% on any of the categories. My shining moment was scoring 0% on musical perception. I did actually get 'high' on all but the seoncd one of the space-bar tapping sequences.
I like listening to music. It seems as though I can keep a beat. I took piano evening classes for over a year, and practiced every night. I'm just not musical.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:42 AM on January 11, 2011


Social creativity 7%

I like my music on my own it seems... (puts on headphones, slouches off)
posted by itsjustanalias at 4:45 AM on January 11, 2011


Now I am really confused, seeing Skygazer's results.

I mixed up pop and hiphop a bit, 14/18 on the on-beat test, 7 high and 2 medium in the rhythm accuracy test, and 10/12 on melody memory. I did slightly better on every test except the genre test, which we seem to have been about equal on. And yet I got 1% on musical perception. And they got 99%. WTF?
posted by Nothing at 5:03 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe it was scored based on how 'confident' you were in your answers. Probably gives more weight to answers marked "I'm absolutely sure" vs. the ones that are "I'm just guessing".
posted by majonesing at 5:17 AM on January 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Group the Music: Totally fucked this up
Match the beat: 16/18
Tap the beat: 4 High/ 3 Medium/ 2 Low
Melody Memory: 12/12
posted by 23skidoo at 5:25 AM on January 11, 2011


Those four clips were not hip hop. One of them was the dubbiest of dub.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:34 AM on January 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Perhaps, but I only marked "guessing" on two, and "think so" on a couple. Even so, even all guesses would not seem to make up a difference of 98%.
posted by Nothing at 5:52 AM on January 11, 2011


Enthusiasm for music: 92%
Musical perception: 99%
Emotional connection: 70%
Social creativity: 83%
Musical curiosity: 90%

That was fun.
posted by reductiondesign at 5:53 AM on January 11, 2011


Weird, I got all correct on the melody memory, almost all correct in tap to the beat, about 70% right on match the beat and mostly got the groupings right, yet I get super low percentages in all categories. Guess it makes sense, since I'm not very musical.
posted by reformedjerk at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2011


Yeah, the "group the music" bit was silly. I thought the melody memory was a bit silly, too. All the real differences were stupidly obvious, but the melodies were so dull that I came up with a couple of false "differences." Maybe I was writing better melodies in my head while I listened. Who knows.

Also, re: "Enthusiasm for Music." It seems like a big part of that metric is how often you use music as background. Just the thought makes me itchy. Music is too distracting to have on in the background, unless it's so low I can hardly hear it.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:18 AM on January 11, 2011


As a music education researcher, I have some problems with this survey - especially in that I'm not sure that the four "genre" clips were really indicative of what they thought. I came close (flipped three of them), but I don't think a good measurement instrument it makes.

Match the beat: 17/18
Tap the beat: 7 high/2 medium
Melody Memory: 11/12

Enthusiasm for music: 78%
Musical perception: 99%
Emotional connection: 99%
Social creativity: 90%
Musical curiosity: 99%
posted by SNWidget at 6:21 AM on January 11, 2011


Enthusiasm for music: 5%
Musical perception: 0% D:
Emotional connection: 4%
Social creativity: 3%
Musical curiosity: 1%

Match the beat: 13/18
Tap the beat: 5 High, 4 Medium
Melody Memory: 12/12 \o/
posted by Bangaioh at 6:35 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enthusiasm for music: 8%
Musical perception: 11%
Emotional connection: 47%
Social creativity: 0%
Musical curiosity: 9%

I suppose this explains why I'm a word nerd! I really enjoyed the test. I know my husband's scores will be the complete opposite of mine. My father and brother can play guitar extremely well, but it was really not to be for me. I just never liked music much and we didn't have money for lessons. I was in the school choir, but the teacher put me at the back :S
posted by Calzephyr at 6:58 AM on January 11, 2011


My musical perception is high. That's all I care about.

The "Group the music" thing was by far the hardest. Some were obviously jazz, obviously rock... but telling some of the pop from the hip-hop was more than a little six of one and half a dozen of the other with samples that short.
posted by Decani at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2011


Got mid-90s across the board. I demand a re-do on the one "tap to the beat" track it says I got totally wrong.
posted by dnash at 7:32 AM on January 11, 2011


Before I even look at this, let me say that it seems like a stupid idea. I don't believe there's any way to quantify great musicianship. I've said it before, and I'll say it again – people need to stop acting as though punk didn't happen. It did, and we have to start coming to terms with the lessons it taught us.
posted by koeselitz at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enthusiasm for music: 98%
Musical perception: 99%
Emotional connection: 93%
Social creativity: 67%
Musical curiosity: 96%

Hm.
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:50 AM on January 11, 2011


Now try clicking on the link and actually commenting on the subject instead of commenting on what you think it is! Because seriously, the punk comment makes absolutely no sense in the context of this post.
posted by flatluigi at 7:52 AM on January 11, 2011


I got a Musical Perception score of only 38%, but I thought I did reasonably on the tests:

Grouping: Jazz 4/4, Rock 3/4, and mixed up pop and hip-hop
Match the beat: 14/18
Tap the beat: 8 high, 1 medium
Melody: 8/12

Not perfect, but compare that to Skygazer's results and it seems like I should have been much higher.

Scored low in the rest of the rest of the categories, which surprises me not at all. Music is not a huge part of my life and my of my responses were a wishy-washy "agree" or "disagree". I found it odd that agree and disagree were 1 and -1 on a scale from 3 to -3.
posted by recursion at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2011


I don't believe there's any way to quantify great musicianship.

That's not the sort of test this is. This is a test for the minimal requirements.

If you can't hear the difference between two notes, cannot hear the differences and similarities between two simple melodies, and cannot even tap along to the beat of a simple song, you are no musician at all. You aren't really even qualified to listen to music, though no one's going to stop you (as long as you don't try to sing and clap along in public). Given sufficient charisma and showmanship, you might be able to front some sort of musical group, punk or otherwise, but you would be an MC or something similar, not a musician.
posted by pracowity at 8:16 AM on January 11, 2011


Before I even look at this, let me say that it seems like a stupid idea. I don't believe there's any way to quantify great musicianship. I've said it before, and I'll say it again – people need to stop acting as though punk didn't happen. It did, and we have to start coming to terms with the lessons it taught us.
posted by koeselitz at 9:43 AM on January 11 [+] [!]


your favorite genre sucks. happy?
posted by lester at 8:17 AM on January 11, 2011


wow. i thought i was special for getting 99% on the Musical Perception!

agree that in the on/off beat test, the metronome was somehow distracting from my ability to listen to the music.
posted by DavidandConquer at 8:25 AM on January 11, 2011


i suppose i should go ahead and comment on the test since i took it. i scored relatively high, but was surprised at my 42 in interest. my highest score was in social creativity part.

i'm a little skeptical that the first test really had much to do with musical ability. i hear certain common elements across all kinds of genres. in my opinion some of the best music is the kind that challenges genres so i don't tend to put much basis on that as a qualifying character. i missed about 6 or so on matching.
posted by lester at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grouping: 3 rock, 4 jazz, messed up pop and hip hop
Beats: 15/18 right
rhythm accuracy: 3 medium, the rest high
melody matching: 9/12 right

Looks like I kept missing three of everything. I thought I nailed the rhythm accuracy and beats sections, but I fear that I was trying too hard to find faults. A problem with these kinds of tests.

enthusiasm: 92%
perception: 99%
emotional connection: 76%
social creativity: 80%
curiosity: 94%
posted by readyfreddy at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2011


I thought I was pretty musical. Judging from the results, I should focus on something else. Thanks !
posted by nicolin at 8:39 AM on January 11, 2011


Enthusiasm: 24% <--- just cause I don't like going to concerts?
Perception: 100%
Emotional: 51%
Social: 88%
Curiosity: 14% <--- fuck you BBC

Got a few wrong in the "judging the beats" part. Some of them were off by so little that I assumed the scientists were just sloppy and marked them a match.

Genre matching: couldn't tell the difference between pop and hip hop, got the others.
Judging the beats: 15/18
Tapping: 8 high, 1 medium
Melody: 12/12

Posting this because I got 100% despite getting some things wrong. The British model of perfection.
posted by gonna get a dog at 8:45 AM on January 11, 2011


I did the whole test and then it said my session had timed out. :(
posted by Hildegarde at 8:54 AM on January 11, 2011


pracowity: “Given sufficient charisma and showmanship, you might be able to front some sort of musical group, punk or otherwise, but you would be an MC or something similar, not a musician.”

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how that distinction makes any sense whatsoever.
posted by koeselitz at 8:55 AM on January 11, 2011


Well I'd love to know what my score was but I'm seem to be stuck in a session timeout loop on their site.

I'm curious to know if I did well as I'm a fairly accomplished musician. I've been in several jazz and rock bands, played in various orchestras, sung in various choirs and small ensembles (including barbershop) and am currently choir director for my church (and I write my own arrangements). I play five instruments fairly well and the piano very well; I can sight read and play by ear, and I'm not too shabby at improvising with a group either.

That being said, I felt like I did poorly on some of the tests, especially the grouping and rhythm ones. The grouping test became a bit of a shell game for me, as I argued internally with myself about whether something was truly hip-hop or jazz, since hip-hop is influenced by jazz and even now jazz is re-appropriating hip-hop forms...this is why I've also turned off the genre column in my iTunes. It's just too arbitrary!

As for the rhythm section, the listening was fine but the part with the spacebar was difficult because the action on my spacebar is a little wonky and I never felt like I was getting on the beat, like I was always about a millisecond off.

But it was a fun little diversion and I'll be interested to see what their collective results reveal later on.
posted by jnrussell at 8:57 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enthusiasm for music: 90%
Musical perception: 100%
Emotional connection: 89%
Social creativity: 97%
Musical curiosity: 19% (Because I won't go see a show with a band I haven't heard of, I guess?)

But so far, I appear to win the MeFi Musical Perception Contest! Whoo! (which reminds me: go listen to my tunes of MeFi Music!)
posted by grubi at 8:57 AM on January 11, 2011


Perhaps, but I only marked "guessing" on two, and "think so" on a couple. Even so, even all guesses would not seem to make up a difference of 98%.

Hm. Perhaps the tests themselves play little to no role in the actual scoring. I scored almost perfectly on most of the tests, even did okay on the genre sorting one, but came up with average results in perception. I gave pretty timid answers in the questionnaire. 1% does seem extreme, though.
posted by majonesing at 9:02 AM on January 11, 2011


Enthusiasm for music: 92%
Musical perception: 100%
Emotional connection: 34%
Social creativity: 98%
Musical curiosity: 99%

Apparently, I don't have much of a emotional connection with music. Which is weird seeing as that's what I do. Anyway, a fun test as these things go.
posted by ob at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2011


Ah, finally got my results.

Enthusiasm: 95
Perception: 100
Emotional: 100
Social Creativity: 98
Curiosity: 96


Odd that I got these scores when I really mixed up the musical grouping. I mean, I'm all over the place on that (I had jazz or hip-hop in almost every grouping).

I missed three on match-the-beat, and my rhythm was high accuracy on tap-the-beat except for one medium and one low. And I only missed on melody memory (and it's the one I had second thoughts about...should've gone with my gut on that).

I really take issue with the grouping music part. Seems like their main distincthing between the groups was based on rhythm more than anything else (i.e. a hip-hop beat vs. a rock beat), but that's a narrow definition. What about instrumentation, context, performance, subject? Genre is a pretty bendy thing. Again, this is why I don't use genres in my own music collection.
posted by jnrussell at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


No need for bugmenot -- just pick a random id and password and use an email address through mailinator.com

my scores:

Enthusiasm: 96%
Perception: 99%
Emotional: 93%
Social: 63%
Curiosity: 96%

I guess my general antisocialism (antisocialness? assholitude?) carries over into the musical sphere too.

On the genre matching, I thought 'Latin/Salsa' was one of the categories, opposed to the 'jazz'. Don't know how I ended up with a 99 on perception.

I don't think the melody section is done well -- the samples were too long and I didn't know if I should have been listening for pitch or rhythmic differences. If I could have heard the 'correct' melody more than once before hearing the 'test' one, I'd have probably done better. Maybe some people can hear a semi-random melody like these just once and commit it to memory, but I'm not one of them.

Still, an interesting quiz, thanks for posting the link.
posted by TwoToneRow at 9:10 AM on January 11, 2011


The beat matching section of this quiz was a joke. The beep overpowered the music and basically all of them in my test were hitting the down beat every time. Based on their examples it was hard to tell if they wanted something that hit only the down beat or if they just wanted something that fit in the beat of the song.
I probably shouldn't have done this through laptop speakers either, hehe.

Also, since there seems to be some talk on this, your test areas have nothing to do with how you score on the audio portions. It's all based on your answers and how strongly you agree\disagree.

Anyway,
Rock 4\4
Jazz 4\4
Pop 2\4
Hiphop 2\4

Beat Match
50%

Tap to the beat
100% High

Memory 9/12

I don't think the melody section is done well -- the samples were too long and I didn't know if I should have been listening for pitch or rhythmic differences. If I could have heard the 'correct' melody more than once before hearing the 'test' one, I'd have probably done better. Maybe some people can hear a semi-random melody like these just once and commit it to memory, but I'm not one of them.

You were supposed to be listening to pitch and melody differences. The whole point is only allowing you to hear it once. The easiest way to do those tests is to sing the first line as you hear it then as the second one is playing to sing it back in your head.
Most of the questions in this test were huge pitch differences though instead of trying to be tricky and make one note different.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:20 AM on January 11, 2011


I think the melody one is the only one that measured what it said. It seemed too easy even, and would have been harder if they had only messed the melody up a little, but it was messed up a lot.

As I thought, I have no rhythm and should neither clap nor dance.
posted by Danila at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2011


What do I do now? The awkward, mechanical Cosmo-quiz-like summary of my results was offensively off-target. If we scored low (which I did, although after seeing the feedback here I'm not sure how the test results and overall scores are correlated), should we not bother trying to learn to improve our perception? Should we leave even the listening of music to those who can truly appreciate its (undeniably basic) technicalities, as pracowity suggests? Somehow I think that's not the point, and if that is the point, vomit. I wish information about this study here. Otherwise the results seem like a cruel and glib prognosis for those of us who did not answer confidently. I mean, you know, if we were to take it seriously. Which I shouldn't, given the stupidity of the "grouping" exercise. I just think whoever designed this thing didn't word the results very intelligently or helpfully. Instead of directing me to go sit in a dark room and listen to the Proms, like BBC did, I should have been offered if not kindness then rehabilitation.
posted by theefixedstars at 10:22 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to the BBC, I now know that I really enjoy sharing with others how much I completely fail to understand about music. See? I'm proving it right here!
posted by zylocomotion at 10:32 AM on January 11, 2011


I'm sitting here trying to figure out how that distinction makes any sense whatsoever.

You could, for example, talk to the crowd, tell jokes and stories, lead cheers, hop and dance around, look hot, choose every song for every set, tell the sound crew and roadies what to do, book the gigs, cut the checks, and just generally be the guy who leads the band, but if you can't keep the beat or tell one note from another, you aren't a musician.
posted by pracowity at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2011


"You scored low for enthusiasm, which suggests that music isn’t particularly important to you.

Based on your results, we think you might like:

Chris Evans Radio 2"

hee
posted by rollick at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got a somewhat strange result -
Enthusiasm: 1%, Musical curiosity: 2%, Emotional connection: 1%, but:
Musical perception: 98% (even though I was completely unable to "group" the snippets!), Social creativity: a decent 67%.

So I guess I could be the next Beethoven if only I cared one tiny bit about music. I knew it.
posted by The Toad at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2011


I got 50% on enthusiasm and emotional connection. That may in part be because I don't *listen* to music when bored or in the background, or buy music.

The "is the beep on the beat" was weird for me. Sometimes it was out of tempo, so I'm confident it's "not on the beat", but sometimes the beep was in tempo but pushing or lagging the downbeat. There's a difference between "in time with the music" and "on/off the beat", and they used both phrases to mean the same thing. Often performers will lag or anticipate the beat intentionally. A jazz bassist may play "in time with the music" but be pushing the center of the beat. In classical music, the conductor's baton (sometimes considered where "the beat" is) may be well ahead of the orchestra, yet they're all playing "in time with the music".

Then there's the "tap the tempo" test. I think they measured how regular your spacebar tap was, because I scored well even though I tapped on 2 and 4 for the jazz tune, beat one on the waltz, and quarter notes in the 12/8 stuff.

Then there's all the questions relating to how often I've gone to listen to live music. Um... Listen? No... Disposable income spent on music? No, that's tax deductible.

In short (too late, I know), these tests be flawed in a few different ways. So hold your ears high if you scored well. Or poorly. And go to more live performances, whether you play or listen.
posted by lothar at 10:59 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I scored fairly poorly at keeping a beat, when I know that in fact I am KICK-ASS QUEEN OF THE WORLD BEAT-KEEPER from my two decades of musical training and experience. I just COULD NOT hear both the music and that infernal beep at the same time -- I could only tune in one or the other. (And yes, zephyr, sometimes the beep was IN TIME, but was ON THE OFF-BEAT. I'm a jazz musician. The off-beat IS the on-beat! Of COURSE that sounds right to me! But apparently that was incorrect.)

I also got a pretty low "enthusiasm" score, because I don't play music constantly in the background. That's actually because I tend to devote my entire attention to the music and end up ignoring my toddler as he tries to climb up something. I also said I don't spend a lot of time reading about music or listening to radio programs about it or whatever -- which, again, because I barely have time to shower these days.

Oh well. At least my toddler thought clapping along to the clips in the "tap the spacebar" section was great fun.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:00 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enthusiasm: 98
Perception: 99
Emotional: 93
Social Creativity: 83
Curiosity: 98

I don't really think questionnaires like this can get to the root of whether someone is musical or not. For one thing, it's easy to know what the "correct" or "musical" answers are for almost every question. I tried to answer honestly, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 11:06 AM on January 11, 2011


Eyebrows McGee has some really good points here. I have fine rhythm but I can't stand beeping metronomes when I'm playing. They're just distracting and they don't help my get in synch with the music. When I'm recording and I want to make sure I keep in tempo, I just loop a really simple drum track. It's much more effective than an incessant beep.

I also agree that enthusiasm among musicians measures really differently depending on the musician. This study probably can't really go that deep. They're trying to compare overall subjective "I'm a Music Person" stuff with potentially objective tests of aural and memory skill. It will be interesting to see what their conclusions are.
posted by jnrussell at 11:09 AM on January 11, 2011


I got "lows" across the board, despite getting decent to very good scores on the tests, and knowing that I have a strong emotional connection to and interest in music. I think I was hobbled by not making use of the entire rating scale- I almost never used anything but agree, disagree and neither on the questions and was never completely sure about my answers on the musical tests. I demand a diffidence adjuster!
posted by MadamM at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2011


I don't really think questionnaires like this can get to the root of whether someone is musical or not. For one thing, it's easy to know what the "correct" or "musical" answers are for almost every question. I tried to answer honestly, anyway.

Like any test you have to play the test designers intent and once you get the key to that you can score pretty high across the board. There's as you say a whole subset of musicality (Punk etc...), this test doesn't address. It keeps things pretty "classical" or vanilla vis a vis what music is: Basic genre's (Although there was definitely some Reggae/Dub they put in the Pop genre, or was it the Hip Hop, row?).

With little variation, on the questions parts, I either answered "completely agree" or "completely disagree" and that has to impact your "Enthusiasm" qualities as a listener. As a musician that level of extremes just gets in the way of writing, cos it shows a lack of understanding of nuance and is the equivalent of being a musical ham if you're going to need one extreme or the other (I'd say in writing too that gets in the way), writing composing etc., is about modulation, tension and release. Just because you can hit the high and low notes doesn't mean sing them all the time.

Ultimately, this is aimed at average music lovers and I feel like being too musical and too perceptive or having too much of pushing the envelope sense of what is "musical" (Punk, noise, dissonant jazz, atonal music, modernistic classical) will be a liability on a test like this.

Used to be a time, thanks to being so steeped in that stuff I, that in social situations when the music would suck or be pap it would make me pissed angry. It would color my interactions and probably made me a bit of a blowhard and a bore to just be so serious about listening to good music all the time, and you learn to either just make the best of it and get some enjoyment out of the social situation or remain stuck in your head and your house alone and pure listening to your great music, but you'll have no friends and never get laid, and at the end of the day that obsession to purely great music is immature and begins to become an emotional regression and stasis.

Yeah. So punk as fuck, y'all.
posted by Skygazer at 11:53 AM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I forgot to add, simply taking the 25 minutes out to take this test should probably give everyone a 100% on the "Enthusiasm" part.
posted by Skygazer at 11:54 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so thankful I took the time to register. After spending nearly half an hour on that increasingly tedious quiz, getting stuck in a never-ending loop of "Your session has timed out, please enter your password so we can make sure it's still you!" screens at the end makes me super-glad the BBC cares enough about the sensitive nature of my musical tastes to keep them a secret even from me.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, well, I finally got the results loaded by switching browsers, but they look totally out of sync with the test scores I got:

Enthusiasm for Music: 5%
Musical Perception: 25%
Emotional Connection: 5%
Social Creativity: 26%
Musical Curiosity: 1%

Harsh! And yet:

Group the Music: Three of my four groupings had three of the same genre (i.e., pop, pop, pop, rock); the fourth had two of the same
Match the Beat: 78% correct
Tap to the Beat: 44% High accuracy, 44% Medium, 11% Low
Melody Memory: 92% correct

This test, as they say across the pond, is bollocks.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was fun to do, though there are many ways in which the test could be improved. Warning: spoilers ahead.

The first problem: the questionnaire at the beginning had a section for 'Occupation' which did not contain 'Musician'. Reading the Guardian article and comments it is clear that many musicians have a significantly different relationship to music than non-musicians, especially when it comes to things like listening habits and emotional response. This information will not be available to those looking at the aggregated test results, and it is hard to understand why this decision was made.

In general, I'm a bit disappointed by the way the answers are presented at the end: it would be much better if the summary screen gave percentages and totals for the listening tests, and if the listening test answer screens provided more information. As it is, you need to click nine times to share your results, and to redo the test in order to figure out what you got wrong exactly.

Though I scored 10/12, I found the melody recognition test really hard, mainly because that wimpy little beep sound used was so horrible to listen to. It was straightforward to answer when the changes to the melody introduced obviously dissonant intervals or obviously different melody shapes; such a test could be made much more difficult (for those with poor ears like myself) if the melody changes in the second clip were, for example, such as to put the second melody in the same key as the first - making the whole thing sound 'musical' while still introducing slightly different intervals. I'd like to know if they did this or not, and wish the answers had provided scores for each test.

I had major problems with the genre test and screwed it up completely - the clips were so short as to make it enormously hard for me. All genres are ragged around the edges and blur into one another as musicians see fit, but at least fairly strong arguments can be made for clearly identifiable differences between the core qualities of rock, hiphop and jazz as sounds, provided the clips are chosen in a reasonable way: it would also be trivial to find clips from each of these genres masquerading as the others, especially such short clips, and especially hiphop. But pop as a genre makes no sense. The sound of 'pop' has been in constant flux from the beginning, by definition, depending on what happens to be being pushed that year. With hiphop production values and techniques being so much in the ascendant at the moment, I'm not surprised I absolutely couldn't distinguish between 'pop' and 'hiphop'. It didn't even occur to me that 'pop' would have been one of the genres.

Embarrassingly, after correctly identifying most of the rock and most of the jazz I decided one of the other genres had to be 'classical', and lumped everything sounding vaguely like an orchestra hit together - misidentifying two 'pop', one 'jazz' and one 'hiphop' clip. The rest ended up sounding like a mishmash of various poppy musical styles that I could not name (two 'pop' and two 'hiphop' - I also misidentified one 'rock' clip as 'jazz' and put the last 'hiphop' clip in with 'rock'.) Huh.

It was a shame that the answer screen for the genres test didn't have playable clips so you could listen to them again, especially as it still uses the audio symbol, making you think you can click on them when you can't. It would also have been nice had the clips been identified.

The beat matching test (I scored 13/18) was seriously flawed by conflating 'in time' with 'on the beat'. Those are not the same thing, and again, it would have been good had the answer section shown clearly which clips had a metronome at a different tempo to the music, if any, and which clips simply had the metronome placed before or after the actual beat. The answer screen says 'people who score lower find it harder to recognise the beat, and are deceived by the more subtle differences, such as when the beeps are correctly spaced but fractionally displaced by a few hundredths of a second,' implying that both different spacing and fractional displacement had been used. Of course, given that some genres require the musician to play in time but slightly off the beat, there are further issues here.

As for the percentage results, it is clear that most of them are derived from the questionnaires, but without knowing how it was arrived at, the score for 'Musical Perception' is meaningless. Was this derived from the listening tests or not? I have come across many people whose perceptions of their own musical abilities are at serious variance with reality, in both directions: it would have been interesting had the distinction been made between the users own perception of their musicality and their test results.

TL;DR: fun test but flawed; could provide much better feedback at the end.
posted by motty at 1:31 PM on January 11, 2011


Well, that was humbling.
posted by flippant at 2:24 PM on January 11, 2011


I thought I was pretty musical. Judging from the results, I should focus on something else. Thanks !

Same here. That was pretty depressing all around. I scored high on Emotional Connection, but the low scores on the others may serve to dampen that.

Good waste of time, though.
posted by aclevername at 7:24 PM on January 11, 2011


I failed. According to this test, I neither care about music nor know anything about it, but can keep a beat perfectly (which I can do because of 16 years of ballet). However, it is wrong, because I play guitar and write songs and never have to memorize really slow plinky-sounding melodies. So there.
posted by millipede at 8:28 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


BBC Scientist: Drat it all! I will not be the receiver of my colleagues' dirty looks every time we fail out of 'Maps' by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Rock Band -ANYMORE. This drum set is too finicky!! GAHHEureka! I will poll the entire Internet and discover the secret to perfect musical ability while hiding the test among some innocuous games... God bless the Queen.

Yeah. That's how it went down.
posted by dracomarca at 9:50 PM on January 11, 2011


The entire idea of genre is problematic and makes me angry so as soon as I got to the first test I got pissed off and stopped. Fuck you stupid scientists who don't really have a grasp of music. Go listen to some, I dunno, John Zorn and King Sunny Adé and Raster-Noton and Charles Ives and then stick these tests up your ass. You morons.

This kind of shit makes me so angry. DUH musical skill is a combination of practice and personality. But musical aptitude is culturally defined MORONS. Your basic premise is flawed. What the hell are you going to do with the results of this garbage when you're done? Don't say suggest guidelines for music education or I will seriously head over to your country and start kicking people in the balls. Look at the responses in this thread; how many people are now demoralized? Is THIS the point of music? FUCK. NO. This is not what music is about, it's not about making people feel like shit or producing virtuosos. Music is something people do to have fun and make themselves feel good and create community and perform rituals. Music is not some sort of shit about categorizing this two second clip into this slot because it is "JAZZ" or "REGGAE" or whatever. That just proves you were socialized in a particular mainstream of a particular culture.

I'm so angry right now I can't type, sorry metafilter.
posted by dubitable at 10:06 PM on January 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I always wonder with these psychological surveys are really trying to measure. The instant results you see when you complete this survey will be a very simple algorithm, kind of like a reward pellet for being a good test subject.
The real results after they crunch the data from a few thousand surveys would be a lot more interesting to see and I bet they will be looking at metrics which are nothing to do with Music.
posted by Lanark at 2:51 PM on January 12, 2011


Let's see...

Enthusiasm - 62%
Perception - 99%
Emotional connection - 93%
Social creativity - 67%
Musical curiosity - 24%

Didn't do too well on the grouping thing, but got 11/12 of the melodies. It helped to just listen for a different mode.

I knew I'd do poorly on the curiosity...I make a point of not listening to very much music, as it interferes (for me) with writing music. I think I got dinged for that in the enthusiasm and social creativity as well. Kind of interesting that "music is important to you, but not as important a focus as it is for some," considering that I've been in several bands, written hundreds of songs and self-released several albums. But hey! At least I "can probably contribute to group activities where music is involved, and are able to join in, singing or clapping along with others."

That little bit isn't condescending at all!
posted by malocchio at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2011


I thought the genre matching thing was 2 step.

Pop is not a fucking genre.
posted by empath at 3:07 PM on January 12, 2011


err.. mis edited.. the genre matching thing was bullshit...

(I had another sentence there along the lines of -- ask me something hard like the difference between dubstep and 2step)
posted by empath at 3:07 PM on January 12, 2011


The entire idea of genre is problematic and makes me angry so as soon as I got to the first test I got pissed off and stopped. Fuck you stupid scientists who don't really have a grasp of music. Go listen to some, I dunno, John Zorn and King Sunny Adé and Raster-Noton and Charles Ives and then stick these tests up your ass. You morons.

I sort of hear what you're saying, but just because musical genre is culturally influenced and fluid doesn't make it a legitimate area of knowledge worthy of study. If anything, it makes it more worthy. And many of the artists you mention rely heavily on that knowledge -- Zorn's music for example relies on sudden jarring shifts between genres that wouldn't really work if the composer, listener and performer didn't all have some understanding of the sound of those genres. It's a fun paradox -- you can say he's breaking down boundaries but his music wouldn't exist without those boundaries.

The genre test was actually the most interesting for me (I mixed up one pair), since it was the only one that wasn't some tired rehash of a stuffy old ear-training exercise. It does suggest something interesting that we seem to be able to identify things from very short clips like this, though I am not sure what.

I agree that the percentage scores were crap, though, since they seemed to be entirely based on the self-assessment portion. It's like those personality tests where you agree to a bunch of statements that are paraphrased versions of "I am an introvert" and at the end it says "You are an introvert!" and you're like "WHOA MAN NO WAY HOW DID YOU DO THAT" except in this case it's "I am good at music" at the end it says "You are awesome at music, and also handsome!" and you're like "HEY THANKS BBCTRON MUSICMASTER 3000 CAN I POST YOU TO METAFILTER" and it all goes downhill and beanward from there.
posted by speicus at 10:49 PM on January 12, 2011


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