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Do we Rate musicians by Performance More than Sound?

When we go to a Classical music performance there’s not a lot to look at. That’s by design. Music is traditionally supposed to be heard; it’s the music, after all.

But even classical music has it “performance” aspect where the orchestra was in the background supporting a ballet, opera and modern “musical theater”. These are performances where the music provides a “sound track” to the action on stage; and a new study finds that listeners and even professional musicians judge a performance based on its visual elements more than its sound.

Several musicians who also judge music competitions were shown short video clips of the top three finalists in several classical music competitions worldwide. They were asked to identify the wining performer in each of 10 performances in three categories: sound only, video only, or both sound and video. When asked what they prized most highly in performances, the judges all said “sound”.

But in fact, when given only an audio of the performances, the judges identified only 26% of the real winners. When given audio and video, judges guessed the winner about one-third of the time; but when given video only: they guessed the correct winner 47% of the time.

But viewing a silent video resulted in the most accurate predictions. Similar findings resulted when using non-musicians as judges. When researchers simplified the videos to black-and-white outlines of the musicians, and asked the viewers to choose the performers “uniqueness”. They found that “passion” was the dominate element by nearly 60%.

NO wonder then that today more people attend musicals and rock concerts than traditional concerts. It’s the “performance” and “special effects” and “physical passion” Rock Stars have, as well as “special effects” that affect an audience, as much or even more than the music itself.