Thursday, 30 Apr, 2009 Science

Chinese Languages Helps You Be More Musical, Scientists Say


One of the latest studies carried out by a team of scientists, led by psychologist Professor Diana Deutsch, showed that children who learn Mandarin and Vietnamese are more musical.

Scientists managed to come up with their finding after making a research on why perfect pitch was infrequent in Europe and the United States among musicians, where, statistically, only one in 10,000 has the gift, while in some regions in China the perfect pitch was very common.

Researchers decided to test 203 music students for the perfect pitch. They asked the study participants to identify 36 notes from 3 octaves. The notes were played in random order. The group of 203 participants included 27 ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese students with different level of fluency in the tonal language that they learned from their Asian relatives. Those who were fluent in their native language showed very high scores, being able to identify 90 percent of the notes correctly.

"They did incredibly well. It was overwhelming. In my experience, musicians in China don't regard perfect pitch as anything remarkable because it's very common," said Professor Deutsch.

The research suggests that knowing the tonal language is more important for having the perfect pitch than just having the right genes. It is worth mentioning that Mandarin is a tonal language, along with such languages as Cantonese and Vietnamese. In these languages the pitch of a spoken word is crucial to its meaning.

said the professor.

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