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Journal Article

Layman versus professional musician: Who makes the better judge?

MPS-Authors
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Larrouy-Maestri,  Pauline
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Psychology Department, University of Liège;

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Grabenhorst,  Matthias
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Layman versus professional musician.pdf
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Citation

Larrouy-Maestri, P., Magis, D., Grabenhorst, M., & Morsomme, D. (2015). Layman versus professional musician: Who makes the better judge? PLoS One, 10(8): e0135394. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135394.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-042F-8
Abstract
The increasing number of casting shows and talent contests in the media over the past years suggests a public interest in rating the quality of vocal performances. In many of these formats, laymen alongside music experts act as judges. Whereas experts' judgments are considered objective and reliable when it comes to evaluating singing voice, little is known about laymen’s ability to evaluate peers. On the one hand, layman listeners–who by definition did not have any formal training or regular musical practice–are known to have internalized the musical rules on which singing accuracy is based. On the other hand, layman listeners’ judgment of their own vocal skills is highly inaccurate. Also, when compared with that of music experts, their level of competence in pitch perception has proven limited. The present study investigates laypersons' ability to objectively evaluate melodies performed by untrained singers. For this purpose, laymen listeners were asked to judge sung melodies. The results were compared with those of music experts who had performed the same task in a previous study. Interestingly, the findings show a high objectivity and reliability in layman listeners. Whereas both the laymen's and experts' definition of pitch accuracy overlap, differences regarding the musical criteria employed in the rating task were evident. The findings suggest that the effect of expertise is circumscribed and limited and supports the view that laypersons make trustworthy judges when evaluating the pitch accuracy of untrained singers.