Test of a Musician's mind.

September 27, 2008 at 08:54 PM · This is a test as to whether the musician's mind works differently language as well.

Read through it, dont try to depict it, see what words you come up with, and then post the comment on what you think.


The phaonmneal pweor of a msuicains mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae a muiscain's mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.


It's pretty interesting, I showed it to musicians and everyone got it immediately, non musicians had trouble in the beginning but eventually got it. Pretty interesting?

Replies (61)

September 27, 2008 at 08:59 PM · Why do musicians read that way?

I mean, would this apply to musicians who do not read music (maybe something to do with sound of words), or is this linked with the mental skills learned from reading music?

September 27, 2008 at 09:14 PM · There was a similar thread a long, long time ago, started by Laurie. Humans are good at making up reality out of incorrect information :)

September 27, 2008 at 09:05 PM · There is at least one psychophysiological factor that accounts for this:

Remember, those of us trained in music from an early age are constantly translating notations on paper into sound. We live and breathe sound - not only the sounds of music, but the sounds of words, a car motor needing repair, a freight train (vs. a passenger train) in the distance, the pitch of a screaming baby, the hot air of political candidates, etc. The sound of the words (especially the consonants) gives away the word, even if the letters are in a screwed-up order. When we look at a written word on the page, we "hear" a sound rather than "see" a printed word.

So don't nya fo you crtcis out tereh jmup on me fro asying iths.



September 27, 2008 at 09:22 PM · I was always under the impression that everyone can decipher them right away? I didn't realize that it's specifically associatedwith mucians!can someone link me to a discussion or article that goes into more detail pls?

September 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM · I've seen this one before. Except it said "human mind" instead of "musician's mind". Pretty cool, I think!

September 27, 2008 at 11:30 PM · I've also always heard this in reference to the human mind in general. This is the first time I've heard it just in reference to musicians. Does anyone know anyone who isn't a musician who can read a sentence with scrambled words without trouble?

edit: I just looked around on the web and found this article. http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/~mattd/Cmabrigde/

What is interesting about it, is that it has the text written in many different languages. I was curious about how it works with foreign languages. In English, I can read the text just as fast and easily as a normally written one. In German, in which I am fluent and can speak and understand without effort, most words I could read at a normal pace, but there were some which took several seconds to decipher/understand. And then in Russian, in which I am probably at a low intermediate level (reading in a book I can understand maybe half without a dictionary), the words with which I was familiar I read without any trouble at all (and actually had to look really closely to see that they really were scrambled), but the words which I didn't know were a hopeless mess that I don't think I'd have even been able to figure out with a dictionary. What is it like for those of you who speak more than one language?

September 27, 2008 at 10:30 PM · piece of cake for v.comers because of training from buri ! :)

my theory is that musicians are trained to read groups of 4 16th notes at once, so another piece of cake!

September 27, 2008 at 10:51 PM · I dont know, this could turn into an interesting science project for me:)

I saw something on tv a long time ago, about a young man who was blind, maybe he was autistic as well, i'm not sure. But anyways...

He was a pretty good pianist, and musical genius. He could depict a chord played by an entire orchestra and play it on the piano, and many other things.

And they had a section on how the musician's brain works, and the only thing I can really remember about it is that a certain part is much larger than the normal persons.

But on a different level, I am always thinking ahead on something and cant wait for it to happen. It might be because we're always looking ahead in music, or a little of OCD lol.

Has anyone actually played classical music everyday while the baby is developing? I think it's from like month 5 on. But has the baby turned out to be a musical genius?

September 27, 2008 at 10:53 PM · Specifically, musicians have quite large corpus callosums (I think the actual plural is callosa, but whatever). This is the thingy that connects the two sides of the brain...leading to musicians having highly integrated left and right thinking. I don't know what that has to do with reading, though...

September 27, 2008 at 11:01 PM · Elizabeth, Wow, ya, I am usually very proficient in ready something in spanish, but was having a lot of trouble with that. I only understood 3/4 of it until i read the whole thing 2 or 3 times

September 27, 2008 at 11:40 PM · Hehe I read that without a problem.

As for another language - I am a strange one, for some odd reason; I was able to read Greek out loud (VERY VERY fluently) and write in it (also fluently) but I did not understand what any of it ment (I spent 5 years+ studying it) - I knew ALL the letters but I didn't know many words (if any at all). I haven't practised in writing or reading for some time so my skills have gone, but still to this very day my language use is limited to 'parrot' talk. Basicly just Hi, bye, thankyou, your welcome - OH and my favourite sentence "Sorry I don't understand Greek"

I guess you could attribute it to me not wanting to learn it in the first place - I really despised it.

September 27, 2008 at 11:56 PM · i never would have thought someone can provide a life example of gee it looks like greek to me:):):)

September 28, 2008 at 12:16 AM · hush now, I have many life experiences. :P

I think any normal person who reads alot can easily translate that sentence.

September 28, 2008 at 12:36 AM · "I was able to read Greek out loud (VERY VERY fluently) and write in it (also fluently) but I did not understand what any of it ment (I spent 5 years+ studying it) - I knew ALL the letters but I didn't know many words (if any at all)."

Sounds like sight-reading music to me.


PS, Charles, the plural would be of the "corpus" (body) i.e. "corpae". Can't remember if "callosum" should change to agree.


September 28, 2008 at 01:18 AM · Is no one bothered by the gross misspellings in the "test?"

Would someone please tell me what "phaonmneal" and "rscheearch" are supposed to mean? Also, the first "musician's" doesn't have an apostrophe like it should.

I could tell right away that the "test" wasn't written by a scientist, because of obvious spelling and syntax errors.

September 28, 2008 at 02:12 AM · read through it with ease

September 28, 2008 at 02:22 AM · Maybe they didnt put an apostrophe because that would be obvious. I think that would clue you in right away as to the word.

September 28, 2008 at 03:14 AM · Dimitri Adamou wrote:

I think any normal person who reads alot can easily translate that sentence.

I agree. I've only been playing music for two years with limited success, and easily read it. I think it has more to do with quick facility with words than with specifically music.

September 28, 2008 at 03:31 AM · I'll bet taht Buri worte taht tset!

September 28, 2008 at 04:41 AM · I'd like to think we musicians are alone in being able to pick words out of that mess, but everyone can. Efficient readers do not read each letter, or even each word, individually. We read in word groups. (Girlfriend is a graduate student in linguistics).

But, yes, musicians may be better at this type of reading. You don't really read each note on a page of music individually after you become proficient. Instead, you see relationships, and you don't have to remember "egbdf." Just as learning another language, you stop thinking of each picture representing a letter, which in turn represents a finger on the fingerboard. You eventually cut out that middleman.

Now, the last space on the treble clef means highest open string, or fourth finger in first position on the second highest string. Similarly, the word "gato" to the word "cat" to the animal becomes: the word "gato" to the animal. The word, or note, actually comes to symbolize the object it names, instead of naming an intermediary.

On a different note, I've heard good sight readers can juggle better than others, and vice versa. It was once suggested to me to learn to juggle to improve sight reading. Seems dubious, but has anyone else heard this?

September 28, 2008 at 05:40 AM · Your right about the reading words in groups.

For all those of you who speak other languages: When I'm thinking about something I may sign it out with my hand by my leg, or the same thing when I'm having a conversation with someone and waiting for them to reply.

But then I can hear a conversation in spanish and piece together all the words as it's coming to me, and reply in english. It's much easier to understand than reply...

How do others do these things?

September 28, 2008 at 10:02 AM · As to other languages: I have noticed that when I speak, I am not really associating words with specific objects, but rather that the words are a means to expressing a certain feeling or desire. In other words, each thing I wish to say has a specific feeling that I can match up any word or set of words to, regardless of the language. This means that I don't translate when going between languages, but use each language as itself. In fact, when I am speaking in

German and don't know a word, I am left with just the feeling that the word expresses and no vocalization (the English word doesn't come to me either).

In music I think it is similar for me. When I look at notes on a page, I am not seeing each note individually and translating/thinking, here is an F, I need to put my fingers here, the next is a C, my fingers move to here. Instead, I am looking at the mixture of notes as a whole and feel the music displayed in my mind. The instrument(like the language) then becomes the means of expressing that feeling.

September 28, 2008 at 12:22 PM · I'm with Al on this one. After almost a year of reading Stephen's posts this was a cake walk!

Love your posts Buri! Always learning great things from you!

September 28, 2008 at 06:17 PM · "There was a similar thread a long, long time ago, started by Laurie. Humans are good at making up reality out of incorrect information :)"


September 28, 2008 at 06:47 PM · Graham,

Your Latin is rusty!

corpus callosum, pl. corpora callosa.

The Pedant

September 28, 2008 at 06:49 PM · Marina,

I'm probably the ONLY one who does'nt understand.

What does "ROTFL" mean ? trifle ?????

September 28, 2008 at 07:28 PM · Yes, this has nothing to do with musicians in any way, shape, or form. Most romantic languages function in the way that an extremely low amount of words have the same length, compilation letters, and starting/end letters. Because of this, if you rearrange a word, be it in French, Italian, English, Roman, German, Spanish, etc, usually only one word is a possible option for the arrangement. An average mind can figure this out instantly.

It works better with some languages than others, due to the innate construction. And other languages the 'trick' is a physical impossibility due to the syllable construction of words in that language.

Overall it's basically a useless tidbit that gets thrown around the internet constantly, every time with the 'research' by a different university. Though the explanation is so astoundingly obvious and simple, and has been so for so many centuries since the written forms of these languages, that I am not sure why it even proves amusing to some.

September 28, 2008 at 07:37 PM · jake,

excellent comment !

September 28, 2008 at 07:41 PM · have a listen to Locatelli:

Cello Sonata in D major.

I think its really cool !

also,he has penned a few violin concertos,which are very good !

September 28, 2008 at 07:54 PM · ROTFL = rolling on the floor laughing

September 28, 2008 at 07:59 PM · Marina,


thanks !

September 28, 2008 at 08:04 PM · SICGT = stidnang in cenror, ginshang teteh

September 29, 2008 at 07:10 AM · Getting back to the main point, as far as I can discern, the so-called study was predicated upon the English language. I suppose by extension, the results could be applied to "western" languages, as such have alphabets.

I would be very curious to see the results for a study predicated upon say, Chinese, a pictorial language. I know from experience, when I try to write the Madarin language and do not pen the characters correctly for say a whole sentence, NOBODY understands a thing.

So, though the study may be interesting, the limited scope and inherent bias make it of dubious value for infering or concluding anything.

September 29, 2008 at 10:43 PM · Greetings,

I found this a no brainer. My posts are much bette r overall trainign for all v.commies,



September 30, 2008 at 01:59 AM · Buri: never a truer word spoken !


October 1, 2008 at 03:09 PM · Could the following improve sight reading ???

Can you read this? Only 55 people out of 100 can

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 cna.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod actulaly uesdnatnrd waht I wsa rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch pepar at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy: It dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny ipmroatnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteers be in the rghit pclae.

The wrdos can be tatotlly mexid up and you can sitll raed tehm whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Adn I awlyas tghuhot slpeling wsa ipmoratnt!

Ted Kruzich

October 1, 2008 at 05:08 PM · Paul G. posted:

"And they had a section on how the musician's brain works, and the only thing I can really remember about it is that a certain part is much larger than the normal persons."

Yes, this is the part of the brain that complains about conductors.

October 1, 2008 at 06:05 PM · "this is the part of the brain that complains about conductors."

:):) a good one.

i don't think there is a such a study that even remotely suggests, not to mention proves, that part of musician's brain is PHYSICALLY larger. if a conductor habitually bangs his baton on a player's head, that is called swelling.

October 1, 2008 at 06:10 PM · >I've seen this one before. Except it said "human mind" instead of "musician's mind".

Yup. And I think the "only 55 out of 100 can read this" is just there as an ego-stroker to make the successful reader feel proud/smug. Everyone I've ever encountered can read it. And most ppl I know are non-musicians.

October 1, 2008 at 06:12 PM · terez, by "ppl" do you mean "people"?

(waiting to feel proud and smug 'cause i've got that feeling that i nailed it!)

October 1, 2008 at 08:30 PM · go ahead and feel smug. I think you nailed it. ;)

October 1, 2008 at 08:50 PM · Yes al, "ppl" does mean people. Obviously you dont know many teenagers... The abreviations are endless: Thx, ttyl, g2g, etc but only geeks use them haha.

October 1, 2008 at 08:51 PM · No, but there is a certain part that is bigger. It's because we use both sides more and normal people use one more than the other -I THINK-

I'm not sure but I'll do some research.

October 1, 2008 at 10:07 PM · Greetings,

the part of the brain that is underused and can be increased in size is the vizual cortex.

I did training under an ATteacher who accessed primary control through vizualization of variousparts of the eye. He also improved on the work of Bates in improving eye sight though work using the visual cortex in specific ways. My eye sight improved 25 percent according to testing by two opticians who both claimed it was not possible before administering the test.

Its interesting to look at the death mask of Beethoven. The part of skull housing the vc is out of proportion -its huge. I belive this is becuase he saw music largely as color as well as hearing it in his head. I have also found that muicians who hear music as colors are usually the most talented ....



October 1, 2008 at 10:35 PM · ok, here is an article...


October 2, 2008 at 05:57 AM · I don't know what all the fuss is about, the writing wasn't any worse than some of the other posts...

October 2, 2008 at 07:01 AM · The "musician's mind" is actually a typo which is supposed to read "female mind."

October 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM · Its just another way to try and differentiate a violinist from an human XD

Don't see many humans around here...

October 2, 2008 at 10:55 AM · Hi, I read it without problem and I suddenly realized while I was reading it that it was intentionnal errors made on purpose! I do think though that everyone is able to read it, they made the same experience on the morning news repeort that I listen on TV and everyone on the staff was able to read it. So, is this a musician's particularity like we would like to think? Probably not... Sorry for the ego of all those who believed it!


October 2, 2008 at 11:05 AM · "it was intentionnal errors made on purpose! "

What the test shows us is language has unnecessary redundancy.

October 2, 2008 at 10:41 PM · sort of a metaphor for the shoulder rest debate...

October 3, 2008 at 12:35 AM · I never metaphor I didn't like.

(Oh sorry, wrong thread.)

October 3, 2008 at 01:23 AM · wrong federal statute I think. Be careful about crossing state lines.

October 3, 2008 at 01:45 AM · It is on an opinion of mine, and I may not be alone, that language and spelling, as well as uses of various puntuation may be soon altered to fit the social demands of those involved. Already one can see the communication revolution happening in the way the young people text each other in chopped words and phrases, usually involving symbols and so forth to convey a message. I am not a big fan of such communications and feel that it is a slap in the face to proper writing techniques and the education of them as well. But as history shows us, we speak and write differently than we did 200 or even 300 years ago. It would seem that the logical evolution of communication would be to eventually "devolve" into a series of symbols and very short phrases. A dictionary written today will undoubtly be viewed as a curiosity, and I can imagine the remarks that would be made as to the long winded manner in which we communicate today. In the future, it is highly possible that words will no longer be spelled out and that will not necessarly be done overnight. This is great for efficiency, but detrimental to good, solid communications. A lawyer writes in the manner they do for specific reasons: to make their point crystal clear. We spend billiions of dollars developing new ways to communicate, but very little to teach students to write and communicate well.

October 3, 2008 at 05:04 AM · Greetings,

>that language and spelling, as well as uses of various puntuation may be soon altered to fit the social demands of those involved.

Jerald, I think this has always been the case but the proces shas accelerate dover the last few years as a result electronic thingamy jigs.

I have noticed a distinct decrease in studnets abilities to actually speak and function in longer sentences in all the levels of education I have taught in over the last few years.Sometiems students who dion`t read actually become monosyulabbic most of the time.

But it is not only the language that changes. Just using Japanes eas an example, young people are so desperate to keep in contact with thier friends for reaosns I won`t go into they mail them describing what they are currenlty doing. In the past one would not have spent a large part of the day tellign ones friends what one is doing in the present moment and I speculate this has caused a radical (and not helpful) shift in the kind of mentlas constructs people work with.

I going for some prunes now.


October 3, 2008 at 06:27 AM · very interesting!

October 3, 2008 at 06:50 AM · Then there was the taciturn President Calvin Coolidge, who, in the shortest of sentences, when wagered to see if he could be persuaded to speak more than three words, replied "You lose" and won the bet.

October 4, 2008 at 01:44 AM · Actually, an interesting thing that I have noticed about typing errors is that among people who grew up with typing as a primary form of communication (like myself), typing errors consist mainly of auditory errors/slip of the tongue mistakes, like writing "hear" instead of "here," or writing the beginning of a word and finishing it off with another word, as in "grool" (great+cool). Actual errors, like misplaced fingers, are quite rare, especially in contrast to older typers who may be very proficient at typing but the majority of whose errors are of the accident-on-the-keyboard sort. Kind of reflects the changing status and usage of language these days.

October 4, 2008 at 02:41 AM · Actually, most of my errors are because I got used to the old IBM keyboards with the leaf spring on the keys, with a real tactile click. The new film contact keyboards are too soft for my preference.

October 4, 2008 at 03:00 AM · Very interesting and true point Charles.

October 4, 2008 at 03:00 AM · Very interesting and true point Charles.

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