The Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI)
The aim of the Gold-MSI project is to develop and launch a test battery of musical sophistication which measures musical expertise and engagement in its different facets. Gathering and analysing the data collected from this new measurement instrument will provide us with a thorough understanding about which types of musical expertise and engagement frequently go together in a non-specialist population.
A compact version of the test has been implemented by BBC LabUK and is available as the How Musical Are You? test.
This test has been taken by more than 150,000 people since January 2011 and we are currently preparing a write-up of the results.
An extended online version of the test battery is currently available from here.
This version is similar in content but different in appearance from the BBC's version. Because it is longer and has more items/trials per test, it will help us to better understand the different difficulty and ability levels related to musical sophistication.
The test battery is envisaged to have the following desired features:
- Cross-stylistic applicability: Measuring musical sophistication and engagement independent of musical preferences.
- Multi-faceted: Discriminating between different aspects of musical engagement and sophistication, such as:
- Professionalism as a musical performer
- Musical engagement and resources (time, money) devoted to music activities as well as prioritisation of music in daily life.
- Creativity and the propensity for spontaneous music-making (with others)
- Emotional reactions and functional use of music to regulate mood
- Musical openness and curiosity
- Accurate musical perception and production in pitch and time domain
- Bodily engagement with music like dancing or clapping
- Sensitivity to differences among non-musicians
The test battery consists of a newly developed self-report questionnaire instrument including several sub-scales covering different types of expertise and engagement. It also includes three musical ability tests on:
- Melodic memory: Listen to pairs of short melodies and indicate whether melodies in each pair are identical (despite being played in different keys) or not; modelled on Bartlett & Dowling (1981) and Cuddy & Lyons (1981)
- Musical sound classification: Listen to very short sound excerpts (400ms or 800ms) and group them into distinct categories; modelled on Krumhansl (2010), Gingras et al. (2008), Giordano et al. (2010), and Gjerdingen & Perrott (2008)
- Rhythmic accuracy: Listen to music excerpts and indicate whether a simultaneous click track is consistently on or off the beat; modelled on Iversen & Patel (2008).
Bartlett, J.C. & Dowling, W.J. (1981). Recognition of transposed melodies: A key-distance effect in developmental perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 6(3), 501-515.
Cuddy, L.L. & Lyons, H.I. (1981). Musical Pattern Recognition: A comparison of listening to and studying tonal structure and tonal ambiguities. Psychomusicology, 1(2), 15-33.Gingras, B., Lagrandeur-Ponce, T., Giordano, B. L., & McAdams, S. (2008). Effect of expressive intent, performer expertise, and listener expertise on the perception of artistic individuality in organ performance In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 10). Sapporo, Japan.
Giordano, B. L., McDonnell, J., and McAdams, S. (2010). “Hearing living symbols and nonliving icons: Category specificities in the cognitive processing of environmental sounds,” Brain and Cognition, 73, 7-19.
Gjerdingen R.O. & Perrott, D. (2008). Scanning the dial: The rapid recognition of music genres. Journal of New Music Research 37(2), 93-100.
Iversen, J. R., & Patel, A.D. (2008). The Beat Alignment Test (BAT): Surveying beat processing abilities in the general population. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 10). Sapporo, Japan.
Krumhansl, C. (2010). Plink! Thin slices of music. Music Perception 27(5), 337-354.
Materials for Download
Download the materials of latest version of the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index from here. The documentation covers version 0.9 that was used with the BBC's How Musical Are You? implementation as well as the extended research version 0.91 implemented here. Audio stimuli are only available for v0.9 for dowlonad below. But materials for v0.91 can be provided upon request.
The usage of the materials is free. Please use the appropriate reference:
Müllensiefen, D., Gingras, B., Stewart, L. & Musil, J. (2011). The Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI): Technical Report and Documentation v0.9. London: Goldsmiths, University of London.