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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Although singing is a universal human activity, many adults in Western society exclude themselves from singing, often self-defining as “non singing” or “tone deaf.” This chapter focuses on singing difficulties in adults (excluding vocal injury or illness), in particular, difficulties with singing acceptably in tune, or poor pitch singing. It examines the ways in which poor pitch singing has been defined and assessed in psychological research, and considers the relationship between singing pitch accuracy and cognitive mechanisms of pitch perception and sensorimotor coordination. The chapter outlines the very different profiles of singing performance associated with self-defined “tone deafness” and congenital amusia (a musical perceptual learning disorder), and places these in the theoretical context of neuropsychological and developmental research, drawing on models of singing development in children. Finally, the potential for adult vocal and musical development is illustrated with a few extant studies, and outlined as topic for further research.

Keywords: poor pitch singing, tone deafness, congenital amusia, perception, development, sensorimotor coordination

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