Tone deafness is the lack of relative pitch, or the inability to distinguish between musical notes and between linguistic tones that is not due to the lack of musical training or education. Tone deafness is the congenital form of amusia. It is also known as tune deafness, "tin ear", dysmelodia and dysmusia.
The ability to hear and reproduce relative pitch, as with other musical abilities, is present in all societies and in most humans. Tone deafness appears to be genetically influenced although it can also be a result from brain damage. Someone who is unable to reproduce pitches because of a lack of musical training would not be considered tone deaf in a medical sense. Tone deafness affects the ability to hear relative pitch changes produced by a musical instrument.
Tone-deaf people seem to be disabled only when it comes to music as they can fully interpret the prosody or intonation of human speech. Tone deafness has a strong negative correlation with belonging to societies with tonal languages. This could be evidence that the ability to reproduce and distinguish between notes may be a learned skill; conversely, it may suggest that the genetic predisposition towards accurate pitch discrimination may influence the linguistic development of a population towards tonality. A correlation between allele frequencies and linguistic typological features has been recently discovered, supporting the latter hypothesis.
Tone deafness is also associated with other musical-specific impairments such as the inability to keep time with music (beat deafness, or the lack of rhythm), or the inability to remember or recognize a song. These disabilities can appear separately, but some research shows that they are more likely to appear in tone-deaf people. Experienced musicians, such as W. A. Mathieu, have addressed tone deafness in adults as correctable with training.
In nine of ten tone-deaf people, the superior arcuate fasciculus in the right hemisphere could not be detected, suggesting a disconnection between the posterior superior temporal gyrus and the posterior inferior frontal gyrus. Researchers suggested the posterior superior temporal gyrus was the origin of the disorder.
Well known tone deaf people
- Kirby from the Kirby franchise.
- Dr. Clint Webber from Frasier
- Grace from Home on the Range (2004 film)
- Horatio Hornblower
- Mumble from Happy Feet
- Jamie Fraser from Outlander
- Shaggy from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
- Conan Edogawa from Case Closed
- Justin from "Pitch Perfect"
- Amusia, the medical loss of musical ability
- Relative pitch, the normal human ability to accurately distinguish pitch intervals
- Absolute pitch, the less common ability to name a musical note when played or sung
- Tonal memory
- Musical aptitude
- Beat deafness
- Deafness, the inability to hear sound
- Color blindness
- Dediu, Dan; D. Robert Ladd (June 2007). "Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (26): 10944–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0610848104. PMC 1904158. PMID 17537923. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
- Ayotte, Julie; Isabelle Peretz; Krista Hyde (February 2002). "Congenital amusia: a group study of adults afflicted with a music-specific disorder". Brain. 125 (2): 238–51. doi:10.1093/brain/awf028. PMID 11844725. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
- Mathieu, W. A. "Tone-Deaf Choir". Retrieved 26 February 2009.
- Loui, P.; Alsop, D.; Schlaug, S. (2009). "Tone Deafness: A New Disconnection Syndrome?". Journal of Neuroscience. 29 (33): 10215–10220. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1701-09.2009.
- See Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts
- Marmon Silko, Leslie (1981). Storyteller, p.254. Arcade. ISBN 1-55970-005-X. Boas encountered difficulty with tonal languages such as Laguna.
- Hunter, Graeme K.; Light is a messenger: the life and science of William Lawrence Bragg; p. 158. ISBN 0-19-852921-X
- Norwich, John Julius. The Duff Cooper Diaries 1915-1951.Phoenix, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7538-2105-3. P.109.
- LaFee, Scott (9 February 2009). "Darwin's Legacy: Natural selections". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Zeltner, Philip N.; John Dewey's Aesthetic Philosophy; p. 93. ISBN 90-6032-029-8
- "Can't chant, can't speak English? Pope says it's because he's tone-deaf", Catholic News Service, 2 April 2013
- Sacks, Oliver; Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain; p 108 ISBN 1-4000-3353-5
- Baril, Daniel (12 April 1999). "Le cerveau musical". Forum. 33 (26). Université de Montréal. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
- Crow, James Franklin and Dove, William F.; Perspectives on genetics: anecdotal, historical, and critical commentaries; p. 254. ISBN 0-299-16604-X
- Hamilton, W. D. and Ridley, Mark; Narrow Roads of Gene Land: The Collected Papers of W. D. Hamilton Volume 3; p. 7. ISBN 0-19-856690-5
- Cox, Stephen (2004). The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-7658-0241-5.
- "The Life of W. B. Yeats". The New York Times.
- University of Newcastle: Musical Listening Test
- BBC: Listening Displeasure
- NPR: Test for tone deafness (requires RealAudio player)
- MedicineNet: Amusia
- NIH: Distorted Tunes Test
- The Listening Book: Tone-Deaf Choir audio description by W. A. Mathieu
- Kazez, D. (1985). The myth of tone deafness. Music Educators Journal, 71, 46-47.