It’s difficult for you to reproduce rhythm? To sing in tune from the first try? To know if other people sing in tune? To memorize melodies?
- You are not the only one
- That has a name: amusia
So what is amusia ?
Partly genetic, partly due to the environment, amusia may affect around 2 to 4% of the population. Yet, it is not rarely known by the general public.
Be aware, the hearing is not the cause. It’s not a problem of auditory perception but a difficulty to analyse the sound and the sound of music only: the brain doesn’t process this information. The fact that such a pathology, which affects only music, exists, is evidence that music really is a completely independent cognitive system.
In the deepest form of it, the amusic people will not be able to recognize melody, even as well know as ‘happy birthday’ or ‘merry christmas’ and will not be better to tell the difference between the last hit by Justin Bieber and a Chopin’s sonata (poor Chopin, if he heard that) . This was, for instance, the case of Che Guevara, who wasn’t able, because of amusia, to sing the national anthem of his own country.
However, in its more common form, the most frequent, amusia doesn’t prevent anyone loving music, to feel the emotions it evokes and to listen with pleasure.
Test: are you amusic ?
Follow the link to go to the online test created by Isabelle Peretz (researcher in Cognitive neuroscience of music) and offered by the Brams research laboratory here.