Showing posts from May, 2022

What's amusing about amusia?

Welcome to, a place to find out more about something called amusia, a condition that can make it very difficult 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 emotion 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 p

Congenital amusia and problems singing a familiar song

As you may know, "congenital amusia is a neurogenetic disorder of pitch perception that may also compromise pitch production." This paper looks at how this relates to signing songs, new or familiar, with or without words. Among the findings: "The current study demonstrates that deviating from target duration and relative time matching patterns as well as making many time errors is more often than not the case in congenital amusia regardless of whether the content to be imitated is more or less familiar."  See  Song Imitation in Congenital Amusia | Music Perception | University of California Press  (full paper accessible here ).