What's amusing about amusia?

Image of child making vocal sounds
Welcome to 4Amusia.com, a place to find out more about something called amusia, a condition that can make it impossible to carry a tune or learn to play a musical instrument. Widespread ignorance of this condition—commonly referred to in derogatory terms like tone deafness or tin ears—can lead to social and emotional problems for those who have it. I know, because I have amusia.

Amusia is defined as: "a musical disorder that appears mainly as a defect in processing pitch but also encompasses musical memory and recognition" (Wikipedia). Some studies suggest that as many as 4% of people are born with an innate inability to recognize musical tones or to reproduce them. This is referred to as congenital amusia.

In 2018, I discovered that my lifelong failure to sing or learn guitar—despite great effort—was due to congenital amusia, not some weird character defect (although you can still find music coaches who insist that amusiacs are just being lazy).

When time permits, I plan to blog about my own journey with amusia. Meanwhile, I will be posting commented links about amusia on this site. Those posts will be brief and should not be taken as endorsements of the content to which I link. The look and feel of the site may change over time, whenever I get a chance to smarten it up; however, I am also color blind (deutan), so please excuse any jarring color choices you may encounter here.

As for "what's amusing about amusia?" I am inclined to answer: not much. However, your experience may be different. I will say this: while the stigma of being a tone deaf child was unpleasant, and the decades spent failing to learn a musical instrument were frustrating, and while I experienced deep sadness at not being able to express my feelings in song in the presence of other humans; nevertheless, learning that there is a physical basis for these limitations, rather than some character defect, was quite liberating!

And yes, I do enjoy music! One day I may even make some pleasing sounds of my own.


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