We can’t all have the vocal range of Mariah Carey or the ability to belt out a tune like Beyoncé, but on the bright side, you’re probably a pro at picking out tones. Only about 4 percent of people have congenital amusia, or tone-deafness, which means they’re unable to distinguish between different pitches or musical notes. If you think your ears are up to the challenge, this online test from Harvard University can tell how tone-deaf you are (or aren’t) in just five minutes, according to The Verge.
If you choose to participate, you’ll be asked to listen to a series of tones and decide whether the fourth pitch in each set went up or down, using the “u” and “d” keys on your desktop or laptop computer (it might not work for mobile phone or tablet users). Some of the pitches are extremely similar, making the test a little tricky.
Your results will be anonymously logged by the university’s Music Lab, which is currently studying how pitch perception varies from place to place, and how it might be related to previous musical experiences, like learning an instrument. You won’t be compensated for your participation, but you will get to find out exactly how your pitch perception stacks up against other people.
Answering fewer than 20 questions correctly is considered a poor performance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your dreams of singing on The Voice are dashed. For those interested in a more comprehensive test, The Music Lab recommends taking an online test offered by the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research.
Harvard’s Music Lab is also offering three other listening tests right now. In one, participants are asked to guess what different songs are meant to be used for (such as dancing or soothing a baby); in another, participants are asked whether the intended audience for a recording is an adult or baby. The last one asks participants to compare synth versions of songs with the original, among other tasks.
[h/t The Verge]