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Thread: Relationship between intelligence and musical skill

  1. #1 Relationship between intelligence and musical skill 
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    Hi guys,

    A while ago I was at a conference for the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR) and one of the articles presented (the researcher and title elude me atm) talked about music ability and intelligence. It was shown that there was relatively little correlation between general intelligence and artistic ability, as well as drama, but relatively high correlation between g and musical ability. Based on this, what are your opinions on the reason for this? My opinion was that music is all about the relationship between pitches, and that the ability to discern patterns and relationships between variables, would transfer across to understanding patterns and relationships between pitches.


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  3. #2  
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    delete


    Last edited by dan hunter; March 1st, 2014 at 11:34 PM.
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  4. #3  
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    My opinion was that music is all about the relationship between pitches, and that the ability to discern patterns and relationships between variables, would transfer across to understanding patterns and relationships between pitches.
    I'd disagree. The correspondence was between g and musical ability, not music appreciation or music criticism. So the correlation, if it's significant in the first place, would arise only for people who have demonstrated something that requires constant practice and ability to concentrate along with a good memory. These elements underlie several of the sort of things that intelligence tests look at.

    It may be worth further investigation. But it looks very much like the same sort of result as you'd get by comparing non-chess players with chess players - same kind of intellectual, practice and reinforcement behaviour skills are required there.

    As for the "Mozart effect". Most people misunderstand this. The Mozart effect was done with a group of college age students. They did the priming or not priming with the music and the findings were that those primed with Mozart's music demonstrated better study/intelligence skills afterwards ... for ten minutes. No one has ever demonstrated any long term or profound benefits of any kind with any other age group.

    I'll admit it here. I used Mozart music as background music when running a tuition business. I also had some Vivaldi, some Chopin and Beethoven piano and some light jazz, Dave Brubeck. The most important features of the chosen music were that there was
    a) no singing
    b) no large or sudden changes in volume
    c) fairly regular, predictable rhythm.
    It functioned very well as 'white sound' so no one was startled by sudden noises from traffic or people outside the building. It also meant that there was less urge among the students to talk just to have noise of some kind. It was just a general calming effect - which shouldn't be dismissed as trivial for people needing to concentrate anyway.
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  5. #4  
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    Just to clarify, it wasn't that people who were good at music became more intelligent, it was that intelligent people, also seemed to be good at music, as opposed to other arts.
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  6. #5  
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    I fully understand that.

    There are lots of these linkages - some strong, most weak or poorly evidenced. There's a lot of work remaining to be done in this area if anyone wants to make any definitive statements.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  7. #6  
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    Another consideration is how people think of and do music.
    People who play by ear and strong sense of timing instead of playing according to the score are less likely to rely on the same skills the intelligence tests are aimed at recording.
    The ability to read a sheet of music and compare intervals strongly resembles the skillset needed to do maths well.
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  8. #7  
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    Intelligence (of any kind) depends on varying factors. Sometimes we measure other people as being intelligent because they can do something that we ourselves cannot.

    Somebody can be good in one specific subject but not so good in others and then we have people who have wide range of intelligence on many subjects.

    Taking music in to account, Dan Hunter has made some good points, regarding being taught and self taught (play by ear).

    I play guitar and I was taught by way of looking at chord sheets but if I listened to a song and had to pick out the chords, I can't do it.
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  9. #8  
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    Hi hannah, I can't really pick out chords either. I would think it would take a lot of practice to learn to discern particular notes and chords, by ear alone. You'd pretty much have to sit there, play a chord, try and break it down into individual notes, then remember the sound of all those notes, and consciously say 'this is C, this is G' etc.
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