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Classical 101

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? Look Good.

We've seen it coming since at least the advent of the "Live in HD" age several years ago, but now it's official. How a performing classical musician looks seems to be even more important than how he or she sounds, according to the Harvard Gazette. Chia-Jung Tsay, a former graduate student at Harvard University and a professionally trained classical pianist, conducted a study in which she gave volunteer "judges" audio clips, video clips with sound or video clips without sound of classical musicians performing in international competitions. She asked the "judges" to identify the winners of the competitions. Tsay described the results as "very counter intuitive."

What I found was that people had a lower chance of identifying the eventual winner if they only listened to the sound. People who just had the video — even without the sound — had surprisingly high rates of selecting the actual winner. Even with professional musicians, who are trained to use sound, and who have both expertise and experience, it appeared that the visual information was overriding the sound.

Read more: The Look of Music (Harvard Gazette)