Sorry, folks: Study says musical talent mostly comes from your genes

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Jon Fingas
July 7th, 2014
In this article: dna, genes, genetics, music, science
Sorry, folks: Study says musical talent mostly comes from your genes

We like to imagine that musical talent is just a matter of putting in enough hours. The Beatles became superstars because they spent years honing their craft in Hamburg, right? Well, maybe not. A recently published study from the Karolinska Institute's Miriam Mosing suggests that you need the right genes to become a true maestro. The research compared thousands of identical and fraternal twins to see whether lots of practice improves a person's ability to detect changes in melody, pitch and rhythm. Unfortunately, it didn't make a lick of difference for the identical twins; they had the same level of appreciation, regardless of how much time a given twin spent performing.

Practice still matters, of course. Even if you're gifted, you still have to make at least some effort to bring out your inner rock star. However, the findings suggest that you'll quickly learn whether or not you can make it as a musician. If so, that could be disheartening to any garage band that spends ages struggling to get itself concert-ready. Look at it this way, though -- if the study holds up, it could spare legions of kids from frustrating music lessons.

[Image credit: Tom Øverlie/NRK P3, Flickr]

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