Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI)

Gold-MSI is a self-report inventory for individual differences in musical sophistication. It measures the ability to engage with music in a flexible, effective and nuanced way.

Primary page content

All materials can be used free of charge and are available for download from the Gold-MSI home page, which also features interactive apps for scoring and configuring the Gold-MSI.

The Gold-MSI self-report inventory has also been translated into several languages and translations.

An online version of the Gold-MSI was implemented by BBC LabUK as the How Musical Are You? test and has been taken by more than 190,000 people in 2011 and 2012.

Read the full results of this very large survey in the open access journal PLOS One: The Musicality of Non-Musicians: An Index for Measuring Musical sophistication in the General Population


The Gold-MSI was designed with the following features in mind:

  • Independent of musical preferences for specific styles (e.g. classical music vs pop music)
  • A valid and reliable measurement instrument and at the same time as short as possible without sacrificing its good psychometric properties.  
  • It is multi-faceted and distinguishes between different aspects of musical sophistication. The self-report inventory has sub-scales for the following facets:
  • Sensitive to differences among ‘non-musicians’
    • Active Musical Engagement, e.g. how much time and money resources spent on music
    • Self-reported Perceptual Abilities, e.g. accuracy of musical listening skills
    • Musical Training, e.g. amount of formal musical training received
    • Self-reported Singing Abilities, e.g. accuracy of one’s own singing
    • Sophisticated Emotional Engagement with Music, e.g. ability to talk about emotions that music expresses

The self-report inventory also allows the scoring of a General Musical Sophistication factor that incorporates aspects from all five sub-scales. See further descriptions of the Gold-MSI subscales on the Gold-MSI home page.

Listening tests

In addition to the Gold-MSI self-report inventory a battery of listening tests has been developed to assess musical perception abilities objectively. Find demos of all listening tests currently available on the demo page of the LongGold project. All listening tests are free and open source.