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"Assessing the capacities of the self-defined tone-deaf : Deconstructing a myth" John Sloboda and Karen Wise (Centre for Psychology Research: Research.

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Presentation on theme: ""Assessing the capacities of the self-defined tone-deaf : Deconstructing a myth" John Sloboda and Karen Wise (Centre for Psychology Research: Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 "Assessing the capacities of the self-defined tone-deaf : Deconstructing a myth" John Sloboda and Karen Wise (Centre for Psychology Research: Research Institute of Life Course Studies)

2 Acknowledgments Funding from the British Academy The Leverhulme Trust The Nuffield Foundation Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research

3 Context Long-term Keele-based work on understanding individual differences in musical skill Motivation: - Scientific explanation of musical variation - Seeking underlying commonalities - Rescuing extremes from the status of freaks

4 Work at Keele Phenomena studied - Musical savants (low IQ individuals with high musical skills) With Neil OConnor and Beate Hermelin (1980s) - Exceptionally skilled young musicians (the musically gifted) With Michael Howe, Jane Davidson, and Derek Moore (1990s) - People who have, or believe themselves to have, musical deficits (the tone deaf or amusics) With Isabelle Peretz and Karen Wise, and support from Lauren Stewart (Goldsmiths University) - ongoing

5 Influences on skill acquisition Determinants of high ability include cognitive, social, and motivational variables Key examples COGNITIVE Practice – strong relationship between amount of relevant cognitive effort and achievement SOCIAL Adult support behaviour – strong relationship between nature and amount of parental support and achievement

6 PRACTICE

7 Motivational variables MOTIVATIONAL Mastery-orientation, belief in self as talented – strong relationship between self-beliefs and persistence on difficult tasks BUT Lay beliefs about causes of high achievement include the postulation of rare innate talent, the lack of which is held to explain low achievement. Large numbers in western society consider themselves unmusical, have objectively low achievement, and have given up on aspirations to musical skill acquisition

8 Developmental considerations Yet perceptual and cognitive studies of babies suggest sophisticated inborn mechanisms for processing musical sounds, with few individual differences. Therefore, a parsimonious assumption is that lack of achievement is not generally due to a lack of cognitive capacity. Are there people who really do lack essential cognitive capacities? The tone deaf? If so, is it possible to screen for tone deafness, thereby proving to the not tone deaf that they have the requisite capacity, and could this proof re-motivate them to engage in musical skill acquisition activities?

9 Current research programme Develop a comprehensive assessment battery capable of differentiating among different types of musical under-performance Through this battery begin to more precisely map out (and offer functional accounts of) different patterns of deficit in the general population Most specifically, use the battery to investigate differences between identified congenital amusics (Peretz et al), self-defined tone-deaf adults, and adult controls.

10 Congenital amusia (Ayotte, Peretz & Hyde, 2002) Peretz et al – Montreal sample Allegedly emerges in early life and persists in adulthood Normal perception and cognition otherwise Dense Impairments in melodic discrimination and recognition, musical memory, metric discrimination, singing, and tapping with the beat May affect 4% of population (Kalmus & Fry, 1980) Montreal Battery for the Evaluation of Amusia (MBEA) reliably distinguishes amusics from others. Amusics perform at chance, normals perform well. This is a purely perceptual test, requires no musical performance

11 Are tone deafness and amusia the same things? 17% of university undergraduates self-define as tone deaf, but most score in the normal range on the MBEA (Cuddy, 2005) So: – Either they do not have difficulties but believe they do – Or they have difficulties not detected by the MBEA – Understanding and assisting this large sub- population requires differentiating between these possibilities

12 Concepts of tone deafness No scientific definition. Lay term. Interviews have revealed: Tone deafness is generally associated with a (perceived) inability to sing Tone deafness is not just an extreme form of unmusicality: a person can be both musical and tone-deaf Comparative judgements of singing performance are at the centre of many self-assessments (Sloboda, Wise & Peretz, Annals of NY Academy of Sciences 2005)

13 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

14 Possible deficit patterns: and hypothesised functional causes TASKS FUNCTIONAL LOCATIONS OF MUSICAL DEFICITS MBEAPITCH DIR BASIC VOCAL TASKS SINGINGNON VOCAL PITCH MATCH SELF ASSESS Perception X X A X X? Memory X X A XA ? ProductionAAX XA ? False Attribution AAAAA X X = poor performance relative to published norms or controls A = average or above average performance relative to published norms or controls

15 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

16 Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusia (MBEA) Six existing normed subtests: Melodic discrimination:Scale Interval Contour Temporal discrimination: Metre Rhythm Musical memory:Recognition Same pool of 30 melodies for each test Same-different judgement on 2 sequences

17 MBEA – scale test example Sound example

18 MBEA results Mean scores: STD = 81.04, NTD = 85.58

19 Adding new sub-tests to the MBEA (a) emotional perception (b) harmony perception Using same melody pool and same task (same-different judgement)

20 Emotion sub-test Professional performers can effectively communicate basic emotions (happy-sad) through performance variation (Juslin 1997) Professional violinist recorded each tune in 4 ways: happy very happy sad very sad

21 Emotion judgement Are the two performances communicating the same emotion or different emotions? Sound example

22 MBEA scores –old and new tests

23 Real ability or artifact? It may be that Amusics are capable of processing and appropriately categorising at least one aspect of musical sequences where this does not depend on fine pitch discrimination But they may be making judgement on non-musical bases (e.g. long vs short duration of stimulus) Current redesign of test to make all stimuli the same duration.

24 Harmony sub-test Three harmonisations for each melody (a)Conventional (diatonic chords from key of melody leading to perfect or plagal cadence)

25 Standard harmonisation

26 Alternate harmonisations (last 2 chords only) (b) Mildly unconventional (using chords from the key, but avoiding plagal and perfect cadence) (c) Highly unconventional (using chords from outside the key)

27 Harmony judgement Are the two sequences the same or different? Same examples repeated the conventional harmonisation twice Different examples paired a conventional with an unconventional harmonisation.

28 MBEA normals versus amusics

29 Harmony test Sub-group performance All groups significantly different from one another (STD range = 13 – 18)

30 Purpose of enhanced MBEA wider range of abilities tested increased potential for differentiating population sub-groups

31 MBEA overview Congenital amusics generally perform poorly on a harmonic same-different task (as poorly as other pitch-based tasks) Congenital amusics generally perform like normals on an emotion same-different task (and at ceiling). People who self-define as tone-deaf have MBEA scores close to (but still significantly lower than) normals. They do not share the same deficit profile as congenital amusics. Deeper understanding of the nature of these deficits will require tests of production and self-ratings on specific tasks.

32 Recent data from Amusics New data, as yet incomplete Impossible to give more than a flavour – most quantitative results from here on dont include CAs Key observation is that CAs are not a homogeneous group. Some perfomed above chance on some of our new tasks, some did very badly. Raises possibility of a) several separable deficits and b) different deficits underlying the typical amusic behaviour profile Is congenital amusia really (just) a pitch perception deficit?

33 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer ) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

34 Pitch direction judgement Participants judge up down or same for pairs of piano tones Ceiling effect Some amusics do well Different patterns of low scores – Difficulty spotting changes – Difficulty identifying direction of changes

35 Non-vocal pitch-matching Computer task involving adjusting one movable tone to match a fixed tone Boxplot shows mean deviation in cents from the target Difference between TD and NTD groups only significant with outliers removed Amusics much worse than any other group – most accurate performance was on average nearly a semitone off-target.

36 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

37 Basic vocal control & range (1) Objectives: To test the theory that poor singing is linked to a restricted singing pitch range To establish possible underlying causes of a restricted range, in particular to rule out low-level physiological problems Taking several different measures of vocal pitch range allows these distinctions to be made

38 Basic vocal control & range (2) Essential vocal skills for singing: – Pitch change and pitch sustaining – Extent of conscious control Tasks – Speech contours – Speech-to-singing – Up & down – Sung range – Slides

39 Basic vocal control & range (3) Self defined tone deaf group have a reduced vocal range overall, but especially in singing No sig. overall difference between amusics and controls Polarised singing behaviour in amusic group – Most have wide range – One had a range of less than 3, and the other two did not sustain pitches

40 Alternative way of showing vocal range data

41 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

42 Matching pitches and short patterns Battery consists of: – 6 x single pitches – 4 x 2-note patterns – 4 x 3-note patterns – 4 x 5-note patterns All in same key, within comfortable untrained singing range, and composed to make musical sense Sung by a model of participants own gender to neutral syllable na 2 conditions (counterbalanced, within participants) – Echo – Synchronised

43 Pitch/pattern matching analysis Fundamental frequency calculated for each note Accuracy = mean difference between model pitches and participants sung pitches, in cents (100 cents = 1 semitone) Absolute values were used to avoid –ve and +ve differences cancelling each other out

44 Pitch/pattern matching results Mean cents deviation: EchoMean cents deviation: Sync Main effect of length: F(3,81)=36.32, p<.001; Group*length interaction: F(3,81)=5.90, p=.001; Group*condition interaction: F(1,27)= 5.77, p=.023; Condition*length interaction: F(3,81)=4.70, p=.004 (Reprinted from Wise & Sloboda (2007) Musicae Scientiae)

45 Singing: Songs Own choice song (not CAs) Happy Birthday: - Twice unaccompanied at participants own choice of pitch - Twice accompanied, once at participants comfortable pitch, then either a tone higher or lower (except CAs, who only sang unaccompanied) Performances rated blind by two independent judges, and self-rated by participants during the session.

46 Expert accuracy rating scale 8.All melody is accurate and in tune, and key is maintained throughout. 7.Key is maintained throughout, and melody accurately represented, but some mistunings (though not enough to alter the pitch-class of the note) 6.Key is maintained throughout and melody mostly accurately represented, but some errors (notes mistuned sufficiently to be wrong) 5.Melody largely accurate, but singers key drifts or wanders. This may be the result of a mistuned interval, from which the singer then continues with more accurate intervals but without returning to the original pitch. 4.Melody fairly accurate, or mostly accurate within individual phrases, but singer changes key abruptly, especially between phrases (e.g. adjusting higher-lying phrases down). 3.Singer accurately represents the contour of the melody but without consistent pitch accuracy or key stability. 2.Words are correct but pitches sound random, and there are errors in contour. 1.Singer sings with little variation in pitch, and may chant in speaking voice rather than singing.

47 Results: Happy Birthday accuracy scores Inter-rater agreement of above 80% (Reprinted from Wise & Sloboda (2007) Musicae Scientiae)

48 Singing performance and vocal range (1) Accuracy of Happy Birthday performance correlates with sung range measure to a great extent; to a lesser extent with speech range measure But speech and sung ranges do not correlate with each other correlations Speech range Sung range HB accomp..433 p= p<.001 HB unaccomp..358 p= p<.001

49 Singing performance and vocal range (2) Despite having the underlying vocal capacity to produce a wider pitch range, the STD group dont do so in singing – but why? Sustaining pitches is more vocally strenuous than the gliding pitches typical of speech. Higher vocal registers require a different larynx muscle co-ordination to typical speech register. But Davidson (1994) suggests that restricting ones singing range is necessary in the process of developing tonal knowledge So there may be two possibilities: – Less accurate singers have poorer voice function/skills – Less accurate singers have less stable/accurate tonal representations

50 Differential predictions Prediction 1: A low-level motor productive deficit should show in a difficulty performing singing-relevant pitch control tasks outside a musical context, i.e. systematic movement of pitch and sustaining of pitch in non-musical vocal tasks.

51 . Prediction 2: A difficulty with the planning of muscular co-ordinations for pitch control would be evidenced by a) greater inaccuracy in the very beginning of vocalisation of a new note and b) less efficient transitions between notes.

52 . Prediction 3: A difficulty with sensorimotor integration or with the schematic mappings of sensory and motor representations would be evidenced by poor correction of pitching errors after feedback.

53 Assessing vocal motor planning and sensory-motor co-ordination Accuracy of vocal motor planning can be seen at the onset of voicing before sensory feedback can be used After about 150ms, auditory and proprioceptive feedback can be used to monitor discrepancies between expected and actual outcomes The relationship between pitch onset and the steady state portion of each sung pitch can therefore provide a window into participants ability to coordinate their sensory and motor functions

54 Box plot of correlation co-efficients between fundamental frequency errors at consonant release and subsequent corrections

55 P. 6, most accurate singer in Vocal Imitation task (NTD)

56 P. 8, Singer with biggest errors at note onsets (accurate in steady state) (NTD)

57 P.213, Least accurate singer in steady states – the TD outlier. Showing apparent absence of error correction.

58 P. 203, second least accurate singer in steady states making erratic corrections (TD)

59 P 214, Inaccurate singer showing correction mostly in the right direction but insufficient (TD)

60 Groups and measures: overview Groups:Self-defined Tone Deaf (STD) (N=13) Keele Self-defined Not Tone Deaf (NTD) (N=17) Keele Congenital Amusics (CA) (N = 12) Montreal/London Measures: PERCEPTION MBEA; New MBEA sub-tests pitch direction judgement: Non-vocal pitch matching (computer) PRODUCTION Basic vocal control & range (speech & singing) Singing (matching pitches and short patterns; songs) SELF REPORT self-assessment of performance; background questionnaire

61 Song self-rating scales On a scale of 1-7: How accurately do you think you sang the tune? (By accurate I mean whether you think you got the notes right). (Very inaccurately-very accurately) To what extent did you feel in control of the quality of the sound that you were able to produce? (Not at all-completely) How did you think you did compared to how an average person of your age would do on the task? (Much better-much worse, reverse scored)

62 Results: Happy Birthday self-ratings (Reprinted from Wise & Sloboda (2007) Musicae Scientiae)

63 Results: Self-ratings vs judges accuracy scores Overall correlation between self and judges ratings for accuracy is about 0.4 (significant) for both accompanied and unaccompanied Happy Birthdays. And: TD group do not self-rate significantly lower than NTD for accuracy when their actual accuracy is controlled for

64 Other self report data

65 Conclusions Self-defined tone deaf Perform slightly worse in MBEA and other tasks than normals Are likely to improve with intervention Rate themselves lower than normals, but only as much as their actual performance merits Are less confident than normals about their voice quality Performance is highly variable within the group and within individuals.

66 Conclusions Congenital amusics As a group are severely impaired on many tasks compared to controls But are not a homogeneous group The range of abilities and behaviours suggests the possibility of multiple underlying deficits, which may be present singly or in combination e.g. pitch perception, pitch memory and production. Musical skill emerges as multi-faceted. Even people with apparently severe impairments can show skills in appropriate tasks

67 Where next Try to identify patterns of test performance which differentiate within the CA and STD groups, looking across all tests. Are there clusters characterising syndromes? Cognitive and motivational implications for the self-defined tone deaf and untalented

68 Research implications Full understanding of musical capacities requires a range of perceptual and productive tasks Suitable productive tests can be used effectively with the musically untrained

69 Practical Implications Interaction between capacity and achievement is complex Many people believe themselves to have reached genetically-determined limits on their musical achievement In the vast majority of cases these self-beliefs are mistaken In such cases, musical expertise is available, with the right circumstances, motivation, and activity.


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