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How to Use the PRPD Classical Music Testing Materials

  • These materials represent a beginning, not an end result.  The objective is to become acquainted with listeners’ preferences and dislikes by familiarizing oneself with the sounds that were tested and the listeners’ responses to those sounds.  Becoming familiar with these is the first step in evaluating the range of sounds in any selection being considered for airplay.

  • We recommend that audio and video material should be listened to and viewed repeatedly and discussed extensively before making any changes.  Most of the partner stations involved in the application phase of the project have planned extended retreats with the key staff to allow themselves the time to become thoroughly familiar with the materials.

  • Remember that the results are responses to specific sounds in the excerpts heard by listeners.  Sound samples and categories listed here are identified as a point of reference.  These materials should not be interpreted as a playlist.  There is very little information here about individual selections. Each station will need to decide which pieces embody most of the positive characteristics, and in what rotation you will program these pieces.

  • The Audio Files for High Appeal, Moderate Appeal, Low Appeal and Negative Appeal are best used as “ear training”, to help you get a feel for the sounds that appeal to listeners and cause them to tune-out.  The music in each group is arranged in descending order, from the most appealing to the least.  We suggest listening to them carefully and repeatedly to determine the qualities of sound that contribute to the response listeners had to the samples.

  • The Videographs, in particular, require careful, repeated viewings because they track responses on a number of different levels.  It is important to consider not only the running average represented by the horizontally moving blue and red lines, but also the “histograms,” or vertical bars, at the bottom of the screen.  These record the percentage of listeners responding to a sample at each of the levels of the 1 to 9 scale.  They provide perspective on whether the response to a given sample is consistent (that is, mostly positive or negative) or distributed among several points on the scale (for example, some positive scores and some negative scores averaging out to low appeal).

Applying the Results

  • Remind staff that this process allows us to listen to classical music the way that most listeners do… not based on musicological descriptions, but on the sound and emotional impact of the music

  • You may need to reconsider how long a ‘vacation’ is used for individual selections.  For example, if pieces are restricted to play just once per month, it could leave the third and fourth week of each month relatively devoid of the most appealing music!