News / Science & Technology

When Judging Music, Trust Your Ears and Eyes

Gold Medal winner Vadym Kholodenko performs during final rounds of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.  A new study says that in such competitions visual stimuli are just as important as audible ones. (Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)
Gold Medal winner Vadym Kholodenko performs during final rounds of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. A new study says that in such competitions visual stimuli are just as important as audible ones. (Carolyn Cruz/ The Cliburn)

Related Articles

Video Happy Sounds Abound as Ukulele Gains Popularity

Small Hawaiian guitar featured at annual UkeFest at Strathmore arts center in Maryland where musicians enjoy classes, workshops, concerts
VOA News
Even when it comes to music, seeing is believing.

In a new study at Harvard University, people were better able to identify winners of musical competitions by watching silent video clips than by actually listening to the music. Even trained musicians fared better in picking winners just by watching the competitors.

“It’s a very counterintuitive finding — there have been some interesting reactions from musicians,” said Chia-Jung Tsay, who has PhDs in organizational behavior and music. “What this suggests is that there may be a way that visual information is prioritized over information from other modalities. In this case, it suggests that the visual trumps the audio, even in a setting where audio information should matter much more.”

It was Tsay’s own experience in music competitions that sparked her interest.

“For the last two decades, I’ve taken part in various competitions,” she said. “Through this experience, I found that depending on what type of evaluations were used — whether it was live rounds or audio recordings that had to be submitted — the results might vary widely. My intuition was that there was a much more sophisticated role for visual information.”

Tsay’s test subjects received either video clips without sound, audio clips, or video clips that included sound. After viewing the short clips, participants were asked to identify the winners.

“What I found was that people had a lower chance of identifying the eventual winner if they only listened to the sound,” Tsay said. “People who just had the video — even without the sound — had surprisingly high rates of selecting the actual winner. Even with professional musicians, who are trained to use sound, and who have both expertise and experience, it appeared that the visual information was overriding the sound.”

Tsay said that the difference in musical abilities among top performers is very slight, so from a visual standpoint the performer’s engagement, passion and energy are important factors.

“Those aspects are more closely tied to performance, or what we think of as performance, that allow the judges to distinguish between two performances,” Tsay said. “I wouldn’t expect musical novices to be able to use auditory information the same way a trained musician with 20 years of experience would, but when I ran the studies with professional musicians — people who perform as part of orchestras, or who teach at music conservatories — and I saw the same result, that was when I realized that regardless of the amount of experience, people still seem to rely on visual information.”

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid