Over at Harvard University, the department of psychology has opened a new lab to study the science of music. While this is sure to lead to plenty of interesting research in the future, the important takeaway from this news is that the Music Lab has created a citizen science platform where the general public can take various music quizzes and contribute to research.
Currently, the site has four tests, which we can all take to figure out how well we truly understand music.
How tone-deaf are you?
Listen to a series of tones and then try to indicate as quickly as you can whether the last tone is going up or down. Most of them were easy, but some of the tone differences can be very hard to distinguish. This is my least favorite of the quizzes, because I did badly despite speaking a tonal language.
2. Can you tell what a song is used for even when you have no experience of the culture that made it?
Listen to a clip of an unfamiliar song and indicate whether it’s used for singing, dancing, healing the sick, soothing a baby, or expressing love. The clips include lullabies from India, love songs from Polynesia, and healing songs of the Pawnee tribe of Oklahoma.
3. Who’s listening?
You have to decide whether a baby or an adult is listening to the clip. This one was the easiest, as some of them were clearly English-language lullabies.
4. Synthesizer game
This one is a bit more complicated. Hear a synth version of a song, then try to figure out its purpose, then compare it to the original and rate how close the two are.
Enjoy! (If you don’t feel deflated by your results.)