Visual signaling

Tsay took the actual audition recordings of the top 3 finalists from 10 prestigious international classical music competitions and asked a group of participants to select the winners. One group watched a video audition, the second group listened to an audio recording of the same audition, and a final group watched the video audition with the sound turned off. 

As her study participants were untrained in classical music, Tsay expected them to do no better at choosing a winner than random chance. This proved true for the first two groups, who chose the winner less than 33% of the time. But to everyone’s surprise, the amateurs did significantly better than chance when watching only a silent video. 

Tsay then replicated the experiment with professional musicians and found the same results. Despite their expertise, the musicians also did no better than chance at picking the winner based on audio or video recordings. But when they watched a silent video recording, they too performed dramatically better. 

Expert judges and amateurs alike claim to judge classical musicians based on sound. But Tsay’s research suggests that the original judges, despite their experience and expertise, judged the competition (which they heard and watched live) based on visual information just as amateurs do.

It's the mythical story about the Kennedy vs Nixon debate results but for classical musicians. Maybe that's why Jascha Heifetz played everything so quickly; his body language was so muted that if he'd played more slowly some might have failed to pick up on his virtuosity.

Whether the Kennedy vs Nixon narrative was a myth or not, I'm not so sure it meant that Nixon wasn't judged fairly by those who watched on TV. Much of being the POTUS is projecting a body language that inspires confidence and respect, so the fact that those watching on TV might have been scoring the candidates on that vector seems fair.