Are You Tone Deaf?

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monquixotemonquixote Frets: 8150
edited March 2014 in Theory
I'm sure none of us are, but it's worth a go none the less. 

@ChristophEar of this parish just knocked up this interesting test for the cloth eared. 

http://tonedeaftest.com/
Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • johnnyurqjohnnyurq Frets: 1332
    97% only one muffed, I blame our last but one drummer and his angry cymbal crashes.  ;)
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  • I flumped two of the questions because I double tapped the response so accidentally answered before I could here the tones.  Pesky mousepads. 

    Otherwise, thank you @ChristophEar for a nifty tool.  Some of the tones reminded me of Army and Rail hearing tests.
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  • Thanks, @monquixote! I've been a quiet lurker here recently but was planning to share this in case anyone had concerns - about themselves or others...!

    I'm really sunk deep into this issue of tone deafness and singing in tune at the moment. I think one of the most fascinating parts is how many capable musicians still have lingering doubts about their own tone deafness. Often it's the misconception that if you can't sing in tune then there's something wrong with your ears. It's been really interesting talking to singing teachers about how they help people get past this...

    ToneDeafTest.com is just a first little step in a bigger project to help people with all this. But when I tried some of the other "tone deafness" tests online it seemed worth putting a new one out there!

    Thanks for giving it a go guys. Any and all feedback is v welcome :)

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  • imaloneimalone Frets: 736
    Nicely put together. Some of the B ones go high in a slightly unpleasant way, but I suppose the easier ones do have to be strong.
    For years I was told our family was tone deaf (by the family, not a clinic or something), when actually the case was no-one had much musical training - a slightly self-perpetuating myth.
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3519
    I hear that the actual clinical condition of tone deafness is very, very rare. People just use it as a catch-all to explain that they're not particularly "musical" (whatever that may mean).

    I got 100% I'm pleased to say, so my bad musicianship is entirely down to poor taste!  >:D< If I could offer feedback, it might be nice to hear some notes that are closer to each other, maybe to within a 1/4 semitone or something. But I guess then you're not so much testing tone deafness as hearing acuity.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • I flumped two of the questions because I double tapped the response so accidentally answered before I could here the tones.  Pesky mousepads. 

    Otherwise, thank you @ChristophEar for a nifty tool.  Some of the tones reminded me of Army and Rail hearing tests.
    You're welcome, and thanks for the note about sounds. We've had a few people report odd playback delays causing confusion so I'll be looking into that.
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  • imalone said:
    Nicely put together. Some of the B ones go high in a slightly unpleasant way, but I suppose the easier ones do have to be strong.
    For years I was told our family was tone deaf (by the family, not a clinic or something), when actually the case was no-one had much musical training - a slightly self-perpetuating myth.
    Cheers! Point noted about the sweeps. I tried to keep them in a comfortable range, but when you're spanning a couple of octaves that can be tricky.

    That kind of self-perpetuating myth is exactly the problem, I think. We have a cultural idea of "tone deafness" which has almost nothing to do with actual hearing (dis)ability, and almost everything to do with lack of confidence or experience. It's definitely more common that it's an emotional issue than truly a musical one. I'm hoping that having a computer tell them objectively that they're just fine might help some people get past the emotional issues. This should work better once we're incorporating singing practice too.
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  • Cirrus said:
    I hear that the actual clinical condition of tone deafness is very, very rare. People just use it as a catch-all to explain that they're not particularly "musical" (whatever that may mean).

    I got 100% I'm pleased to say, so my bad musicianship is entirely down to poor taste!  >:D< If I could offer feedback, it might be nice to hear some notes that are closer to each other, maybe to within a 1/4 semitone or something. But I guess then you're not so much testing tone deafness as hearing acuity.
    Nice work on the perfect score! ;)

    True clinical tone deafness is indeed very rare. It tends to be part of a cognitive disfunction called amusia. There's more info on this (currently slightly janky) tone deafness info page we're putting together.

    For evaluating your pitch sensitivity you might find this test more useful (warning: give them a real email address! You don't get your results otherwise :/ ) or there's a cool iOS app called InTune which tests and trains you in detail.
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  • xHymnalxHymnal Frets: 252
    some of the tones didn't play back: in particular (B) a few times on the section where you have to distinguish between which one was lower and higher. Also there was a long delay between pressing the button and hearing the tone which made the experiment much harder.

    I've participated in clinical trials for a PhD student friend of mine which was very very similar to this and his model didn't experience any glitches. The performance glitches meant i was unable to complete the test unfortunately. 

    I'm sure it will be great when those are ironed out though! Congrats :) 
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  • Hymnal said:
    some of the tones didn't play back
    Thanks so much for letting me know. Could you tell me what device/browser you're on?
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  • xHymnalxHymnal Frets: 252
    I'm on a macbook running 10.6.8 and using safari as my browser 
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  • @Hymnal: Great, thanks - will look into it.
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  • Thanks, @monquixote! I've been a quiet lurker here recently but was planning to share this in case anyone had concerns - about themselves or others...!

    I'm really sunk deep into this issue of tone deafness and singing in tune at the moment. I think one of the most fascinating parts is how many capable musicians still have lingering doubts about their own tone deafness. Often it's the misconception that if you can't sing in tune then there's something wrong with your ears. It's been really interesting talking to singing teachers about how they help people get past this...

    ToneDeafTest.com is just a first little step in a bigger project to help people with all this. But when I tried some of the other "tone deafness" tests online it seemed worth putting a new one out there!

    Thanks for giving it a go guys. Any and all feedback is v welcome :)

    That's interesting, because my wife constantly tells me I'm tone deaf because I can't sing in tune unless the record is actually on. Even then I'm rubbish. However, according to your test, I'm 100% not tone deaf. I'll need to try one of the other tests for a different reading.

    And like Hymnal, I'm on a Macbook, too, but I use OS10.9 and Firefox, and while there was sometimes a bit of a delay, it wasn't too bad.
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • And according to the other test -

    "Thank you for taking our Pitch Discrimination Test at http://musicianbrain.com/pitchtest.
    At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 6.25 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 46.2% of people who took our test!"

    Which puts me well into the bottom half of those who did the test. :-S

    Maybe my hearing isn't as good as I thought. :(
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • ChristophEarChristophEar Frets: 44
    edited March 2014
    And according to the other test -

    "Thank you for taking our Pitch Discrimination Test at http://musicianbrain.com/pitchtest.
    At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 6.25 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 46.2% of people who took our test!"

    Which puts me well into the bottom half of those who did the test. :-S

    Maybe my hearing isn't as good as I thought. :(
    I wouldn't be too discouraged! This test is interesting but (imho) quite misleading. 

    For example, around 500Hz, a semitone is about 30Hz away. That means your 6.25Hz discrimination is 20 cents (i.e. a fifth of a semitone), far better than necessary to distinguish notes apart reliably.

    It might mean you'd have difficulty tuning a guitar's strings purely by ear. But it's a far cry from being anything like "tone deaf"!

    Also bear in mind that the people who take that test are self-selecting. Being in the bottom half of test-takers does not necessarily tell you much about how you compare to the general population...
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  • And thinking about it, the other thing it doesn't take into account is the candidate's age. I'd heard that hearing can deteriorate with age in the same way that sight can.

    I'll be 54 in June, so do you know what a 500Hz reading says about my hearing?
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • @TheOtherDennis: Age can be a factor, but it normally mostly affects high frequencies. For example, check out the final diagram on this page which shows it's really 1kHz and up which get affected significantly. 

    So 500Hz should be a reasonable choice of pitch to avoid the impact of age-related hearing loss. It's still possible that your age plays a part, but if you can hear the tones without straining, then your age probably isn't the biggest factor in how fine-grained a pitch variation you can detect. That's more likely to be down to your level of training and experience practicing this kind of task.

    Apart from the InTune app I mentioned before, there's a nice little online game called Dango Brothers from Theta Music that helps you practice judgement in tuning notes. Might be worth a look if you want to see if you can improve!
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3519
    edited March 2014
    Age can affect your ear's ability to hone in on critical bands - ie if there's a noise at 500hz and a quieter noise at 510 hz, the 500hz signal makes more vibration sensitive hairs in your ear activate than when you were younger, so there's not any hairs left unactivated to then pick up the 510hz signal. It's why older people and people with hearing damage find it harder to pick up conversation in noisy environments.

    Of course, that's two different sounds happening at the same time, but if your cochlea is suffering from such reduced fidelity I can see how telling subtle pitch changes apart would get harder.
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3519
    Ladies and gentlemen, bow down before your new god;

    Thank you for taking our Pitch Discrimination Test at http://musicianbrain.com/pitchtest.
    At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 0.453125 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 99.9% of people who took our test!


    :-O
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • Thanks for that. You've just made an old man feel very old indeed. :(
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3519
    Sorry Dennis! If it's any consolation I'm nearly 29 and I can't follow conversation in noisy pubs that well any more, so it proves my critical bands theory to be total tosh!
    Captain Horizon (my old band);
    Very (!) Occasional Blog
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  • :D

    S'alright, I was only joking.

    And not necesarily - I've never been able to follow conversation in a noisy pub, and as a student I was once fired as a barman because I kept having to ask the customers to repeat their orders. They all thought I was being a twat so eventually the boss got fed up and I got hoofed. Thing is, I was just trying to make sure I did my job properly by getting the right drinks, but if I'd known they thought I was a twat, I would actually have BEEN a twat - because most of the customers were, and they deserved some back! :D
    If you must have sex with a frog, wear a condom. If you want the frog to have fun, rib it.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11771
    Cirrus said:
    Ladies and gentlemen, bow down before your new god;

    Thank you for taking our Pitch Discrimination Test at http://musicianbrain.com/pitchtest.
    At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 0.453125 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 99.9% of people who took our test!


    :-O
    Jeez, man - I was pretty proud of my 1.4375Hz result (91.4%). Then again, I do have pretty bad tinnitus, so it's pretty much a miracle I got that far.

    100% on ChristophEar's test, though, which means I can no longer blame my lack of musicality on my ears. Bugger.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 22389
    image
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  • BasherBasher Frets: 706
    I got 100% but have always considered myself tone deaf.
    I really can't sing a note in tune. I sound like a distressed goose or something.
    Presumably this means that while my ability to detect pitch is OK-ish, my ability to reproduce it vocally is what's really wrong.
    Does this make me tone dumb?
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  • 100% on your test, thankfully. Bit of lag on some of the sounds but I just put it down to blockages in the internet pipes. Firefox 28 on OSX 10.8.5.

    The other:

    "At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 1.90625 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 84.7% of people who took our test!" ........15th of a semitone at age 40 = close enough for Jazz.
    My band: Hedge Gods
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  • MistergMisterg Frets: 206
    edited March 2014
    Also 100%

    Test must be broke... ;)

    "At 500 Hz you can reliably hear pitch differences of 4.1875 Hz, which means you did better than approximately 59.8% of people who took our test!"
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 7123
    100%. Quite amazed. I do think I am a bit tone deaf and certainly can't sing for toffee. With multiple choice there is a chance element of course so I may be partially right and partially lucky. On the other hand I had MrsTheweary pulling faces at me so maybe a bit of luck balanced that out.

    Right, off to transcribe every Frank Zappa album...

    Or sit here and write this whilst I wait for Eric Jr to have a go. He has much, much better hearing than I do so I'm interested if that translates into good pitch.

    Right, he got 100%. Also said he suffered delays in the sound coming out on a few buttons ( on android tablet) but found it very easy compared to the pitch tests he did for grade 3 clarinet.
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • imaloneimalone Frets: 736
    100%. Quite amazed. I do think I am a bit tone deaf and certainly can't sing for toffee. With multiple choice there is a chance element of course so I may be partially right and partially lucky. On the other hand I had MrsTheweary pulling faces at me so maybe a bit of luck balanced that out.
    Tone deaf really means you can't hear the difference in notes. Not being able to sing means you never learned to control the notes you're making (possibly because someone told you you were stone deaf so you never tried...). In a terrible analogy it's a bit like the difference between reading and writing (lots of flaws with that, the first one is that pitch discrimination isn't really a learnt skill). Untrained people are better at listening than you'd think, some of the psychologists I work with do tests on music memory and people are very good at remembering familiar pieces of music.
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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 22389
    Basher said:
    I got 100% but have always considered myself tone deaf.
    I really can't sing a note in tune. I sound like a distressed goose or something.
    Presumably this means that while my ability to detect pitch is OK-ish, my ability to reproduce it vocally is what's really wrong.
    Does this make me tone dumb?
    No. All it means is you don't know how to use your chest and head resonator. Do some reading up on correct vocal technique, and you'll figure it out.
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