Tone deafness is the lack of relative pitch, or the inability to distinguish between musical notes that is not due to the lack of musical training or education. Tone deafness is also known variously as amusia, 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. The hearing impairment appears to be genetically influenced, though it can also 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.
However, tone deaf people seem to bemusic, 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, but may conversely 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.
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Tone deafness is also associated with other musical-specific impairments, such as inability to keep time with music (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.
Notable tone-deaf people
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