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Scientists from the Cognition and Brain Plasticity Group of the University of Barcelona have conducted a study that they say establishes that some otherwise normal people are incapable of enjoying music. They are calling the incapability "specific musical anhedonia". Per the first article:


....Researchers also made sure that the study's participants weren't depressed, tone-deaf, hearing-impaired, or otherwise unable to understand music — all factors that would have dampened their pleasure response....The study's results, published today in Current Biology, are surprising. Although these participants were perfectly capable of perceiving when a tune was sad or happy, they didn't show physical or emotional reaction. They didn't shiver if a singer hit a high note, and their heart rate didn't increase with each crescendo. But when asked to play a game involving a monetary reward, those who were indifferent to music reacted just like everyone else: the thought of winning even a small amount of money was enough to make their hearts race. The results were unchanged a year later, when 26 of the students took the test again.


Per the third article the following is supposed to be a test of your ability to appreciate music. For each category a score between 40 and 60 indicates a normal ability to appreciate music. Above 60 indicates a high ability and below 40 indicates a low ability:


I've always been a music lover and dancer. To little financial gain I've copyrighted a number of musical compositions and have choreography in the copyright office now that I'm waiting for a ruling on.

Tags: Jubinsky, Music, Musical Anhedonia

Views: 191

Replies to This Discussion

John, interesting article.  I imagine there are not a lot of people this applies to.  Most people enjoy music.  It's ubiquitous.  

I have often wondered what is wrong with me, that i don't enjoy music  I think I did in the remote past.  Not recently.  

My own score on this test-







The mean value of each factor is 50 and the standard deviation is 10.

Therefore, the standard values are located between 40 and 60.

Punctuations below 40 indicate low values in this particular facet and values above 60 indicate high values in this facet

I don't know what each of those categories tells me.

I don't know what this means about  me.   Music with a lot of emotion annoys me.  I don't listen to the car radio.  I do like listening to spoken voice.  I listen to books on CD.  I pre-listen so I know if that voice resonates with me.  I also like nature sounds.  I listen to recordings of bird song, frogs, rivers, ocean, rainstorms.   I do like percussion - especially the Kodo Drummers and African Percussion.

It's nice to know there is a phenomenon, and it doesn't necessarily mean there is something terribly wrong.

The older I get, the more sub-genres of music I come to appreciate   But I am not a chronic music listener.  My MP3 player storage is more suffused with vocal podcasts.  I haven't taken the test, yet. 

I have a friend who is state director for a prominent atheist organization.  He is a physicist who has done much r & d on audio amplification for a number of the corporate heavies.  Ironically, he is not at all interested in music.  Doesn't have much use for any of the audio-visual performing arts.      

Worldwide, people who enjoy music appear to be in the majority if not the vast majority. In terms of evolution this suggests that people who had the capacity to enjoy music had some advantage by which nature selected them. Maybe it was that people who had the capacity to enjoy music were more inclined to bond with their young and each other. If so their young would have had a better chance to survive and, from bonding with each other, they would have more willingly cooperated enabling them to better survive through teamwork in hunting, gathering, building and defending themselves.

My totally wild guess would be 95%.  The article may give a better number and I missed it.  Music is central to our experience of socialization.  I have no idea what it means that some people don't enjoy most music.

It bewilders me that some people are indifferent to music. I have even had conversations with people that never listen to music. I just do not understand this.

Music can be defined in terms of a mental exercise. One finds themselves nearly sub-consciously counting and attempting to predict a composition's twists and turns which makes it intellectually stimulating. As a producer and composer myself, I also appreciate music as an art. Nothing is more amazing than a good mix, that is, getting dozens of instruments and sounds to cooperate and sit well with each other. When a mix is good, it becomes something more than the constituent tracks that are mixed. This transcendence beyond the mere data is what makes music fascinating to me.

As a composer that is quite the opposite of a minimalist, I have to constantly do the tricky and delicate balancing act of getting everything to sit in its own place in stereo-space. Often I end up taking my 30+ track mix to my brother's more elaborate Protools HD studio for a final master. He might lack my compositional powers, but his instincts on producing, on mixing the actual tracks together is itself an amazing thing to witness. He can take a muddy, mediocre mix that I slap together and clean it up, making it a song, not just a deluge of sound.

As a classically trained musician, proficient on guitar, piano and trombone, I might be biased in my love for music. But most people enjoy at least listening to music and those that do not confound me.


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