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Musical intelligence, the eternally undervalued capacity

Musical intelligence, the eternally undervalued capacity

May 6, 2021

For decades now, the concept of intelligence has a strong impact on the life of the human being.

The IQ tests are applied in the selection of personnel and in school environments, the fact of obtaining a score or another in one of them can have a great impact on self-esteem and, in addition, these measures are a good predictor of economic status and life expectancy .

However, some psychologists believe that there is not a single measure of intellect, but many types of intelligence, and some are highly undervalued. The musical intelligence It would be an example of this.

What is musical intelligence?

Musical intelligence belongs to the model of multiple intelligences disclosed by the American psychologist Howard Gardner, and is a concept that alludes to the capacities and sensitivities that have to do with musical sensibility, when it comes to producing it and perceiving it as such with all its nuances.


It is totally independent of the hearing ability , and therefore only concerns the ability to process the sound information of simple or very complex musical pieces, and it does not have to be reflected in specific musical genres either. What defines musical intelligence is the total freedom to create and appreciate music.

How are people with musical intelligence?

Someone with musical intelligence is especially adept at detecting nuances in melodies, thinking in terms of rhythm, timbre and tone and distinguish similar sounds that sound separately or at the same time. In turn, they will also find it easier to express themselves musically, either by composing musical pieces performed by themselves or by directing a musical ensemble in which many elements of the piece that one wants to interpret must be borne in mind.


Musical intelligence can be broken down into several skills . These competences are held in a relative degree, and do not have to do with a perfect and absolute ability to carry them out. Here are some of them, by way of example.

  • Sensitivity when identifying the rhythm, the tone, the melody and the timbre of a piece of music.
  • Relative ease when composing or performing musical pieces originals, and when reproducing them or adapting them with reference to another piece of music.
  • Ease to find resources with which to express emotional states or ideas through music.
  • Ease to recognize masked musical pieces They seem to be simple noise.
  • Ability to recognize different musical genres that influence a piece of music.
  • Easy to create melodies by playing several objects in an improvised way

Musical intelligence is educated

According to Howard Gardner, musical intelligence is one of the first types of intelligence to appear throughout the development and growth of people, being present in the first months of life. So, its existence does not depend on whether we have received formal education in music or not , and much less if we know solfege. However, if one wants to improve significantly in musical intelligence, there is a point where it is necessary to practice and dedicate hours per week to form in a systematic way.


This, added to the fact that musical intelligence could be closely linked to logical-mathematical intelligence and skills related to creative thinking, makes certain groups claim the need for schools to devote efforts to help improve this type of intelligence using programs of stimulation of musical intelligence. Efforts are also being made to disclose exercises with which parents can educate the youngest and musical intelligence from their first weeks and according to the stages of growth they go through.

A final reflection

The idea of ​​multiple intelligences popularized by Howard Gardner is both loved and hated. The fact that it is a classification of different mental abilities has earned him the criticism of those who believe that intelligence can be explained by studying a single factor of intelligence (the G factor of Spearman). But nevertheless, it also opens the door to understanding the intellect as something broader than what conventional IQ tests measure .

Musical intelligence is one of the great counterpoints that the multiple intelligences model puts on the table: an intelligence that is legitimate by the simple fact of belonging to the artistic and creative facet of the human being , in spite of not being applicable to the labor and productive gear as the logical-mathematical intelligence.


A Musician's Nostalgia | Critical Role RPG Show Episode 37 (May 2021).


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