There are a few online tests that give you a measure of your pitch perception ability (such as the jake mandell tone deaf test). I took the test and I scored a 67% in my first attempt and 77% in my second attempt.

These are not great results and some of my friends with no musical training have scored above 80% easily. I assume this means that I have relatively bad pitch perception ability or memory.

I have two questions.

  1. Is the pitch perception ability a necessity to compose music?

  2. When I play the piano, I can easily put into notes what I hear in my mind. Then why is a scientific test telling me otherwise?

2 Answers 2

  1. No, it's absolutely not necessarily. It can certainly be helpful in a number of ways, but experimentation and perseverance can get you far. One example of an accomplished tone-deaf composer is Robert Fripp. It's not necessary to know exactly what note you're hearing to know that it sounds good!

  2. That test is hard. As the page says, "excellent musicians rarely score above 80%". My main problem when taking it myself was remembering the first phrase while hearing the second. I really don't think that's a good test for tone-deafness at all, more of a specific type of memory test, and it's certainly not very similar to playing something you "hear" mentally.

    Tone deaf people can usually still tell when things are different, just not how. This means they have trouble specifically identifying intervals or even whether notes are higher or lower than others; essentially, they lack relative pitch.


I would have thought "pitch perception" (Which is another test on the site) is more of a definition of "tone deafness" than listening to phrases and remembering them. I think it would be hard to compose without having at least this to a decent level.

If its of any consolation I did extremely bad on the test last year and exceptionally well on the test today. Since last year I have been forcing myself to stop writing music and improve my skills by learning songs. I have reduced time spent on my creativity and increased my memory, focus and ability to remember faster phrases than I could before.

Is a good score on the Jake Mandell pitch perception test indicative of creative writing? my answer would be definitely not. Because in my case the opposite seems to apply.

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