Amusia

by Rob Horning

27 December 2006

 

Via Mind Hacks comes a link to a test you can take to see whether you suffer from amusia, a condition that makes people with otherwise perfect hearing unable to comprehend music. Whenever I read reviews of electronic music, I wonder if I suffer from this condition or something like it, because I can’t hear what enthusiasts of the genre hear no matter how hard I try to discern grooves or insist to myself it’s not the sound of a broken dial-up modem. Since I occasionally contribute music reviews myself, I thought I better get tested.

I have to say, it was much more arduous than I thought it would be. It was like listening to someone practicing scales and trying to differentiate between each attempt based on subtle variations. With the long strongs of MIDI tones you were supposed to memorize, it was a little like playing Simon. It’s a bit of an endurance test; I wondered if part of the point was to test how your ears adapt to identifying certain kinds of anamolies. Half of the test seems to be about recognizing melody, the other rhythm. I scored the same on both sections: 28 out of 30. I don’t know if this is a good score or not, but I’m inordinately proud of it.

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