New study finds our judgement of musical performances relies on our eyes, more than our ears.
A new study from University College London has found peoples’ judgement about the quality of a musical performance is influenced more by what they see than by what they hear.
The study, conducted by social psychologist and pianist Chia-Jung Tsay, surveyed a range of participants – from professional musicians to those without any musical training – to determine the importance of auditory vs visual information in determining the perceived quality of a performance.
To begin the survey, each test subject was asked what their key criterion was for determining the quality of a performance, with 83% responding: ‘How it sounds’. Participants were then presented with audio and video recordings of the three finalists from a range of prestigious international competitions, and asked to guess which performance was awarded first prize.
With just sound, or sound and video, the music novices and experts both guessed right at about the same level as chance (33% of the time). Interestingly however, this figure jumped to 53% when participants were shown silent video alone.
“As a classical musician, I was initially somewhat disturbed by the findings,” said Tsay. “It is surprising to find that there is...