There are reasons why your buddy can sing like a bird and you yowl like a cat. But it’s probably not because you’re clinically tone deaf. It's possible that bad hearing might be the cause, but poor control of the vocal system is a more likely factor. In other words, you might hear the desired note, you’re just not able to hit it. A third factor may be an inability to imitate sounds -- you know what sound you want to reproduce, but can’t make the connection. A fourth reason may be that bad singers have a bad memory -- they hear a song but by the time they try to sing it, they have forgotten the notes. A 2008 study of perceptual tone deafness, or amusia, by neuroscientists Peter Q. Pfordresher and Steven Brown made these determinations after testing 79 college students on their ability to discriminate between musical notes and their ability to sing accurately.
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