Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Listening displeasure

Not being able to sing Happy Birthday might mean you're tone-deaf. But what if you can't actually tell the difference between it and the National Anthem? That's where a condition called amusia comes in - and here's a test to find out if it affects you.

More than one in 10 of us claim to be tone-deaf; but despite the term, most tone-deaf people can hear music perfectly well - they just can't sing.

A different condition, however, does involve a problem in making sense of music. Research has shown that some people, termed "amusic", can neither produce nor perceive music.

It isn't a problem of the ears - they can understand other sounds perfectly well - but when it comes to music, all tunes sound the same (See links below for the test).

While most of us are sensitive to small changes in pitch, amusic people need two notes to be very far apart before they hear them as different. It's no surprise, then, that music, which tends to move in small steps, is literally "lost" on them.

Whew! For a second I thought it was me, but I scored a 27/30, so that's pretty good. I think the 3 were because I wasn't paying attention, but I did much better than I thought. I got into playing the guitar because I wanted to expose myself to joy of playing the guitar. I don't have the joy yet, but I am satisfied that I am getting better. How does one get to Caragie Hall?

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