Re: physiological basis of tone deafness (Daniel Levitin )

Subject: Re: physiological basis of tone deafness
From:    Daniel Levitin  <levitin(at)COGSCI.UOREGON.EDU>
Date:    Tue, 5 Dec 1995 12:26:42 -0800

Judith, Erv Hafter and I are just beginning a comprehensive study of tone-deafness. It is an interested problem, but not without some difficulties. To start with, it turns out that there is no officially agreed upon definition in the literature. The term "Tone deafness" seems to be applied to people who can't recognize a song that they have heard many times, or can't reproduce a simple melody without errors, or can't make tonal pitch (same/different) discriminations as well as other people. But this hasn't been quantified. (That is one problem we're addressing right now.) The parietal lobe may be implicated in some, but not all, of these cases. For starters, here are some references. Bentley, A. (1968). Monotones. Music Education Research Papers No. 1, London: Novello. Cox, I. (1947). Tone deafness. Music Educator's Journal, 34. Joyner, D. R. (1968). The monotone problem. Journal of Research in Music Education, 17(1), 115-124. Kalmus, H., & Fry, D. B. (1980). On tune deafness (dysmelodia): Frequency development, genetics, and musical background. Annals of Human Genetics, 43, 369-382. Welch, G. F. (1979). Poor pitch singing: A review of the literature. Psychology of Music, 7(1), 50-58. Hope this helps. Daniel Levitin Dept. of Psychology 1227 University of Oregon Eugene, OR 97403-1227

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