How Musical Am I?


I got the music in me…I swear it was here last time I checked

A friend recently pointed me in the direction of this BBC Musicality Test. According to the home page, by taking the test I would:

  • Discover my complex relationship with music.
  • Uncover my five factors of musicality
  • Test my sense of rhythm and pitch

All in around 25 minutes. Well, thought I, I’m prepared to spend 25 minutes on discovering my complex relationship with music.

I had to register on the site before the test would begin, which is no biggie – I guess now, owing to registering on another music-related site recently so I could comment on a silly article, I should probably add “No One You Know” to my list of pseudonyms in the contact info – though, I can’t say yet how often No One You Know will make an appearence. Particularly considering this certain other site wouldn’t even publish my dang comment. (All I did was mention an album that everyone needs to check out – no links or anything, just a rec. Guess they still figured it was spam. Wouldn’t bother me if it was only their loss. Meh).

Anyway, back to the point. Here’s the breakdown of the test by the science-like guys that greet participants before embarking on said test:

By participating, you will be helping scientists to better understand the sorts of experiences and attitudes which lead to different degrees of ‘musicality’ or musical sophistication“. (Additude in relation to sophistication, eh? Hmm…)

The first section of the test was just a bunch of demographical questions – i.e. race, study and employment details etc. Which, given the above, suggest they want to determine if there’s some kind of correlation between rich/poor, un-/educated people of a certain race and said musical sophistication. I dunno – last I checked, aptitude is an inherent thing, and it’s a bit of a duh if someone suggest studying music will increase one’s basic “musicality”. Anyway, with that done and dusted (i.e. confirming I’m a poor white girl with  little education and almost no history of studying/playing music – I didn’t count my brief flirtation with the harmonica and my determination to ‘play the blues’), it was on to section two.

I was asked to listen to 16 very brief sound bites (about a second in length each) and then organise them into four groups by determining their musical style. The four styles I heard and sorted by were rock, jazz, r’n’b and classical. (They’re blanket terms, by the way – meaning when I heard what I believe was distinctly swing, I put it in the jazz group). Not exactly difficult, but it took me several listens of each sound to get four groups I was reasonably satisfied with.

For stage three, I had to rate 36 statements regarding my music habits in general, and how I personally perceive my own musical aptitude on a seven-degree scale ranging from Completely Agree to Completely Disagree. eg:

  • I spend a lot of my free time doing music-related activities
  • If I hear two tones played one after another I have trouble judging which of them is higher
  • I sometimes choose music that can trigger shivers down my spine
  • I have trouble recognizing a familiar song when played in a different way or by a different performer

Another musical task followed that, whereby I had to listen to 18 audio clips with a consistent beep sounding out a beat, and subsequently had to decide if the beep was in time with the music, with an additional answer of I’m guessing, I think so and I’m totally certain – I never ‘guessed’, but I was ‘totally certain’ about 5 or 6 times out of the 18.

After that was a rhythm test. The same pieces of music as in the previous task were played, and I had to tap out the beat on the spacebar of my keyboard. My first thought was awesome! finally all those skills I honed by becoming an expert at Um Jammer Lammy will come in handy! (Which, by the way, was years before anyone had even thought of Guitar Hero – I totally ruled at this song). I thought I failed fairly miserably at that in the end – tapping a beat on a computer keyboard in time with a classical waltz wasn’t as easy as jamming with Chop Chop Master Onion on a game controller, especially as the timing is displayed clearly on-screen.

With that done, it was on to some more rate-able statements about habits, musical ability and how I relate to music on an emotional level, all fairly straightforward stuff but was a little more interesting as some of the questions were similar to those in the first set and my answers changed marginally to reflect how well I thought I did in the practical tests. For the last stage I was given a memory test – twelve sets of two songs were played in succession. Each set was the same melody played at two different pitches, and my task was to determine if, aside from the difference in pitch, there were any other differences between the two melodies. This was, again, a little more difficult that I anticipated, but I thought I got most of them right.

Finally, it was time to click ‘submit’ on the test to find out my score and see just how musical I really am. So, without further ado, here  is my result:


So I’ve decided that rather than take another 25 minutes to let some computer program determine and analyse my musicality and ‘complex relationship with music’*, I’m going to make things nice and simple  and take two seconds to tell the science-y guys here and now.

Obviously I’m so awesomely musical that my relationship with music is far too complex to be ascertained and summarised by a computer. So there.

Attitude in relation to sophistication be damned.


*This is a blatant lie. I know full well I’m going to go back and take that test as many times as required to get an “official” result.


About Satellite for Entropy

My thoughts are fish, all swimming about and prone to scattering swiftly. Some of them are pretty but not all of them are gold. Some have teeth; some travel in gangs and with a single school of thought; some are haphazard loners, darting about the place randomly and to no obvious purpose. But they're all slippery little suckers. Sometimes, I get lucky and find myself with a good grasp on one, long enough to remember what it looks like before releasing it back into the wild. View all posts by Satellite for Entropy

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