Test your music recognition

Via Clancy at CultureCat: The University of Newcastle on Tyne is conducting a Musical Listening Test. You listen to pairs of short tunes and then indicate whether they’re exactly the same or different. I got 28 out of 30, and, like one of the commenters at Clancy’s, am now wondering if there’s a link between poetry-perception and music-perception. Except the test seems to measure how you recognize pitch more than rhythm. Actually, it reminds me of using using a collator: the differences between similar-but-not-identical tunes pop out in 3D. Which also makes me wonder about shape perception.

Query to the readers, out of curiosity: What’s it like when you recognize a tune? Fellow poetry people (and musical people), do you tend to think of poetry in musical terms and vice versa?

7 Responses to “Test your music recognition”

  1. Jordan says:

    I have a musical backgroud, play saxaphone and piano, although the last couple years not nearly enough. Scored 28 as well. However, I have a tremendously difficult time recognizing most poetry even if I’ve heard it, and even discussed or written about it. For myself personally, there is no direct link. I don’t read poetry as music, and I don’t listen/play music as poetry. They register completely different in my brain. Just me though.

  2. Florence says:

    I did 25/30, though I know that some of that was related to an outside distraction.
    As more of a music than a poetry person, I am not sure if there is a direct link for me either. I have learned a lot of poetry through singing or hearing musical settings. It is nice to have picked up bits of donne, dickinson, shakespeare, etc, not to mention all of the catholic latin. At the same time, to me at least, the music inevitably overpowers the poetry, and if I am studying the poetry as poetry, it can be difficult, though necessary, to shut out the tune and think only about the text.
    I suppose there is a certain similarity to the experience of understanding (different from recognizing, maybe?) poetry and of entering the abstract world of a piece of music. Perhaps this is easier if music does not have a text to consider, and vice versa. I’m not sure that it should be this way. Certainly music and poetry are supposed to have an oh so deep connection. I suppose they do, ideally, but as the subject of academic study, it is a different matter. I’m not sure if that makes sense. Anyway, best of luck with the job stuff.

  3. Jane Dark says:

    I am so coming back to this when my German test is over…cool.

  4. Chris says:

    I won’t swear to it, but I’m going to posit that this is more about recognizing interval than it is pitch per se. As a person with a musical & linguistics background with a poet for a partner, it drives me mad when I see, for example, poems in couplets, and the reason for the couplets (or line breaks or whatever) aren’t self-evident. Drives her mad trying to explain it to me, and drives me mad when she can’t.

  5. Jane Dark says:

    I got 28/30. I agree, it measures something more like pitch, or intervals, or even just your knowledge of classical melodies and note progressions. The different melodies really leapt out at me because they were jarringly different from the originals, generally in a way that I’d characterize as off-key. It would have been interesting if they’d played the off-key versions first, instead of second. Or if they had played melodies that were less tropological, I suppose. And by tropological, I mean standard period patterns — there were some very Bach Invention-like passages, and others that seemed very classical (most, though, sounded like some variety of baroque).

  6. harriet says:

    I am a semi-pro musician and an ABD musicologist. I got 30 out of 30. I wouldn’t say that this was actually about tune recognition. Mostly, I’d say that I identified the differences because the altered pitches fell outside the key of the first example (or at least outside of the melodic logic of the key). In one example — one of the fast ones — I identified the difference because of rhythm — one note was omitted and it altered the meter. As for the what happens when I identify a tune, it’s kind of hard to pin down. I actually wrote about this last year. You can find the entry here: http://harri3tspy.diaryland.com/050220_10.html.
    I feel like it’s a very fast process of comparison to all the other experiences of music I have. As for poetry, whether or not I think about it musically depends a great deal on the nature of the poem. Although not strictly poetry, I find, for example, that I often lose track of meaning altogether on James Joyce because I am swept away on the sound of the words. But there are other more cerebral types of poetry — John Donne, perhaps — where I am more caught up in the layers of textual meaning than in the sounds.

  7. Clancy says:

    I got an invitation to participate in the second stage of the study; I guess they’re interested in the slow folks (22/30 here). I don’t know if I’m going to go along with it, though. They want me to get people in my family to take the test, and for the most part, people in my family don’t really use the internet.