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What's amusing about amusia?

Welcome to 4Amusia.com, a place to find out more about something called amusia. For those who are not familiar with the term amusia, here is what Wikipedia says about it: "Amusia is a musical disorder that appears mainly as a defect in processing pitch but also encompasses musical memory and recognition." (This is a "sticky post" dated in the future so it always appears first.)

Studies suggest that about 4% of people are born with amusia. This is referred to as congenital amusia, which has been described as "a deficit in fine-grained pitch discrimination" (Wikipedia).

I recently learned that I am one of those people and that discovery impacted my outlook on life in numerous ways, some of which may be hard for some people to understand (based on my initial efforts to describe them).

On this site I plan to blog about my own journey with amusia, while posting commented links about amusia. Those link posts will be brief posts and should not be taken as endors…

Brams Online test

Not sure if we have blogged this before, but the test is worth taking. Note that 20 minutes, but we think it is time well spent:



Brams Online test: "This test has been designed for people with little or no formal musical training; anyone interested can thus take the test."

Human Brains Are Sensitive To Musical Pitch, Unlike Those Of Monkeys

According to new research in the journal Nature Neuroscience: "What sounds like music to us may just be noise to a macaque monkey." Apparently, "a monkey's brain appears to lack critical circuits that are highly sensitive to a sound's pitch."

Human Brains Are Sensitive To Musical Pitch, Unlike Those Of Monkeys : Shots - Health News : NPR

One of the lead researchers Sam Norman-Haignere, has also done work on amusia, like this: Pitch-responsive cortical regions in congenital amusia (.pdf).

I have emailed Sam to see if he needs more research subjects.

Congenital amusiacs [like me] imitate pitches more accurately in singing than in speaking

This study "investigated the impact of congenital amusia, a disorder of musical processing, on speech and song imitation in speakers of a tone language, Mandarin."

Individuals with congenital amusia imitate pitches more accurately in singing than in speaking: Implications for music and language processing | SpringerLink:


Amusia — SYNC PROJECT

Amusia — SYNC PROJECT: "there are individuals in whom the mechanisms function in a way that even normal processing of musical sounds is not possible...called tone-deafness or amusia, typically affecting around 4 % of the population."

Perception and action in singing - ScienceDirect

Unfortunately, this article costs over $50, but it does address "the work that has been done concerning singing among nonmusicians, focusing on pitch accuracy, which is one of the most important aspects of singing." Will review it if we manage to get a copy.

Perception and action in singing - ScienceDirect

Pitch Processing Sites in the Human Auditory Brain

This very detailed look at the brain as it processes pitch does not address amusia directly, but it may be of interest to amusiacs looking to learning more about how our brains handle music:

Pitch Processing Sites in the Human Auditory Brain