Although there have been many studies of perceptual tone deafness, or amusia, few have compared people’s ability to hear differences between musical notes with their ability to produce good music. This fact is what makes the recent study by Pfordresher and Brown so interesting. They tested 79 college students on both their ability to discriminate between musical notes and their ability to sing accurately.
… and here’s what they found:
The bad singers were significantly worse than the good singers, and dramatically so. No matter the circumstance, they were off by more than two semitones, as far apart as any consecutive notes on the scale, even when repeating just a single note.
Yet bad singers were just as good as good singers in identifying differences in note pitch. In other words, bad singers aren’t tone-deaf, they just can’t sing. Visit the site to get the researchers’ explanation why.