How musical are you?

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Radio 3 launches test to discover the roots of musicality

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Radio 3 has collaborated with researchers at Goldsmith’s College to devise a test measuring the musical aptitude of the general public. ‘How Musical Are You?’, freely available on the Radio 3 website, aims to uncover whether musicality is mainly the product of nature or nurture.

Listeners are asked to complete various tests, such as tapping the space bar along to music clips and identifying whether two tunes are the same or different. Comparing these results with questionnaires pertaining to the listener’s musical education, researchers hope to identify how ‘musical perception’ correlates to formal musical training.

They are also looking to see whether there are general, unnoticed abilities prevalent in those who do not play an instrument or sing, but who listen to music regularly. Music psychologist Daniel Mullensiefen told the BBC, ‘we’re interested in finding out about the many different ways people can be musical, even without setting foot inside a music school.’

The test will not only provide useful information to researchers, but may also encourage those who believed they did not have any musical ability to foster a new interest. American composer William Mathieu, who runs courses for the self-proclaimed musically untalented, estimates that one in 20 people consider themselves tone deaf.

Mullensiefen says, ‘traditionally, musicality was defined as something that you got from practising for hours in a darkened room. But we want to show it’s a much broader and wider concept.’

Take the test here

Benjamin Goodson