Goldsmiths psychologists test UK’s music skills

Goldsmiths College Photo: Anna Haswell

Psychologists at Goldsmiths College have combined forces with BBC Radio 3 and BBC Lab UK to design a “How musical are you?” test.

The on-line test – which was launched today – covers five different aspects of musicality including: enthusiasm for music; musical perception; emotional connection; social creativity and musical curiosity.

Psychologists are interested in discovering whether it is personality or practice that determines a person’s musical ability.

Dr Daniel Mullensiefen, a music psychologist from Goldsmiths who is leading the initiative, said: “We’re interested in finding out about the many ways people can be musical, even without setting foot inside a music school.”

Participants will take part in audio tests such as ‘beat matching’ and be asked to answer questions like “How often would you go to a live music performance?”

Dr Lauren Stewart, senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the university, said: “The ability to play music is just one aspect of being musical.

“Some people may not be able to play an instrument but are able to move easily to the beat while dancing. This is clearly another dimension of being musical, yet they might consider themselves totally unmusical.”

Today’s launch coincides with the Radio 3 Genius of Mozart season. Talking about the composer, writer Petroc Trelawny said: “Ever since his death his output has been the subject of extended scholarship. But clearly you don’t need to be a musicologist to appreciate the man.

Jake Spurgeon, 24, a musician from Bath who took the test, said: “I’ve played music for years and years without being properly trained and did really well on the test.”

BBC Lab UK launched in September 2009 with the Brain Test Britain Experiment and has since carried out two further major experiments. By teaming up with the BBC Lab UK and well-known BBC programmes, scientists and researchers can reach thousands of people, which will help ensure that test results are more accurate.

Take the test here.

One Response

  1. Char April 25, 2011

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