Help me put my newly discovered superpower to a good use.
November 19, 2006 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me put my newly discovered superpower to a good use.

Ok, so I took this test on the web, and this one and this one too. The results? I aced them all. I kid you not. I nailed every single question. Well, actually I missed *one* in the first test, but then I took it again and aced it.

So, what does that mean? I've always known that it's pretty easy for me to sing in tune (I sang in a band back in the day), but I don't have a specially beautiful voice, so no singing carreer for me. However, I have never played an instrument, or even tried to. Should I start now at age 32?

I guess the real question here is - do I have a hidden talent in my hands or is this just a matter of future dinner conversations? And in case this is a potential talent, and what should I do to develop it?
posted by falameufilho to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Start playing an instrument. Absolutely - why wouldn't you?
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2006

What about singing in a chorus or small vocal ensemble? Even if your voice is not beautiful by itself, it may blend beautifully with others. People with perfect pitch (I assume that's what you learned from these tests) are always useful, especially in small a capella ensembles, where you can help keep everybody else on key.

If you can sight-read difficult passages and stay in tune, the director will love you!
posted by Quietgal at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2006

You're probably not the best judge of how beautiful your voice is.
posted by rhizome at 9:02 PM on November 19, 2006

People with perfect pitch (I assume that's what you learned from these tests)

After reviewing the tests, I'm pretty sure this isn't what they'd test for. Perfect pitch would definitely be an asset, but a person with a really good working memory and barely adequate sense of pitch would probably do better than a person with perfect pitch and poor short-term memory.

There was a comment here earlier that appears to have been deleted which referenced the game "Simon," and while the tone of the comment may not have been helpful, the first two of the tests were an awful lot like that game. To use a rough analogy, those tests are somewhat like trying to test for color blindness by showing someone 10 flash cards that constitute a sequence of colors, and then showing them another 10 and asking if it was the same sequence. A color-blind person would of course almost certainly get things wrong, but in the general population, I'd guess more people are likely to do poorly because of a limited working memory.

So I'd say if you did well on the tests, it's likely you do have a good working memory. You may well also have quick grasp of a variety of harmonic structures and good sense of key -- especially if you did well on the third test. You'd probably do well enough with music, but the only way to really find out is to take up an instrument. Or maybe try your hand at some audio engineering or mashups or composition.

I'd also say that there's no shortage of work for people who can juggle a lot in their head simultaneously without losing it. From office assistant to air-traffic controller, the devil is often in the details, and if you're a person who can tame those, you can probably get someone to pay you well to do it, since the rest of us often need help with that.
posted by weston at 9:15 PM on November 19, 2006

It's very hard to judge your own singing voice. I think mine is pretty average, although very much in key. However, when I was singing with one other tenor in a small choir (which I joined at age 32, this year), I was congratulated for it.

Most of the self judgement of your own voice comes from the well known effect often expressed as `I don't sound like THAT, do I?!?'.

Learn to sight read, learn to harmonise, join a small choir if you can and enjoy it!
posted by tomble at 10:23 PM on November 19, 2006

Most of the self judgement of your own voice comes from the well known effect often expressed as `I don't sound like THAT, do I?!?'.

Indeed, your voice sounds a lot more resonant to you because you are hearing it through your own physical structure. If you want to know what you sound like to others, make an audio recording and listen to it.

No practical advice for the primary question -- sorry.
posted by dreamsign at 12:10 AM on November 20, 2006

Yeah, I'd say what these tests told you is that you audiate well. I'd second the advice that you practice sightreading (useful materials), and I suspect that you'd feel well served if you could also get some training specifically in musical audiation (in a class using Jump Right In, which I was taught for two years and loved, or on your own using Bruce Dalby's Audiation Assistant, of which I am a satisfied buyer). As to the quality of your voice—there are professional singers who believe that vocal beauty can be taught/unveiled in essentially any voice; and my own experience suggests that those observations are right on the money.

If you find you like a capella, one role that demands the most extraordinary audiation skills is the baritone part in a barbershop quartet. Consult the Barbershop Harmony Society, formerly known as SPEBSQSA (the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America). They print a variety of introductory and advanced repertoire; I recall their introductory program used to be called Barber Pole Cat, and I think they still use it.

If you don't like that, well, there's also soul/R&B, choral/chamber sacred music, vocal jazz, madrigals, or the whole instrumental world. Maybe you're the next bluegrass star. Whatever your choice, you've got a gift, and it's one that can give you a lot of pleasure.

Epilogue: One of my choir teachers had a couplet from Goethe (translated) on his door:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
posted by eritain at 12:50 AM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

You do have a talent not everyone has. Here's a thought on how to use it:

My girlfriend has perfect hearing, I don't, I'm a musician, she is not. Sometimes when I'm having a hard time figuring out a song (for instance the vocal melody for a song) she'll come and whistle it for me, and it will be a lot easier to recognize it from her whistling along than from the group of sounds in the recording.

So, that is a way you can put it to good use right away, you can help your musician friends who might not have perfect intonation. The other options (except for perhaps singing somewhere) may involve a lot of learning.
posted by micayetoca at 5:28 AM on November 20, 2006

Shape Note singing may be right up your alley. It's a kind of traditional four-part harmony that doesn't require a typically "beautiful" voice — just good pitch, decent sight-singing and the willingness to belt it out. If nothing else, it's a great way to build confidence about your voice if you think it sounds funny. Even a room full of funny-sounding people, when they hit the right harmony at the right volume, can sound absolutely glorious.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:43 AM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: Perhaps you could become a piano-tuner for truth and justice.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on November 20, 2006

People with perfect pitch are always useful, especially in small a capella ensembles, where you can help keep everybody else on key.

On the other hand, having perfect pitch in a small a capella ensemble can drive you crazy, because you know when the group is flat and can't do anything about it.
posted by nekton at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2006

I'm curious now, does the OP have some real talent that most other people don't have? I only ask because I had the exact same results (ok, I didn't have the patience to test myself on all 35+ pairs in the first 2 tests, but after the first few I already knew I'd ace it, and with the 3rd test, had it not been prefaced by earlier comments, I would have been genuinely surprised to hear that not everybody gets a perfect score, as it seemed that easy to me).

Maybe I can be his sidekick.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:23 AM on November 20, 2006

war wrath of wraith: high scores on the third test may not be very meaningful. It told me I have "fine pitch" (21/26 correct) whilst the first test much more accurately told me I have borderline low-normal/pitch perception problems.
posted by paduasoy at 11:27 AM on November 20, 2006

You can be a roadie for Metallica.
posted by dcrocha at 4:49 AM on November 21, 2006

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