Not a singer? It is not because of your voice but because of the brain – study reveals why

poor singing

If your aspirations to be a singer fail in spite of your sincere efforts it would be wrong to blame your voice. It may be your brain which is preventing you from developing this much-desired trait.

Even musicians who are masters of string instruments are unable to win hearts with their voice. People are often left confused regarding what is wrong with them. Is it the vocal cords, ear or the brain?

Why this poor singing?

poor singing

There is a scientific definition which involves the deficiency of pitch accuracy and the inability to follow the timing of the tune and retain it in memory. Irrespective of any specialized training, most people may be able to follow the tune and register in memory but, when it comes to vocal rendition, it may be exceptionally displeasing for the listeners.

According to an expert at BRAMS (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research), in spite of our body equipped with all sorts of biological hardware related to singing and cognition of musical notes, lack of vocal melody is quite common. About 60% of people have a difficult time in grasping singing tunes with their voice.

One simplest explanation for bad singing may be due to poorly developed vocal cords or vocal folds to be more precise. It was found vocal muscles are not to be blamed and it may be a matter of perception that resulted in poor singing.

But this perception cause was also ruled out as a study with a group of musicians and non-musicians revealed that the latter category had no difficulty in perception though the trained musicians were smarter in this.

Therefore, it was concluded that it may be the brain’s inability to compare the output with the target pitch of the music note that made the difference between the quality of a good singer and poor singer.

Unraveling the mysteries of musical cognition has been under a long-term investigation by neurobiologists but they are yet to arrive at a definite conclusion regarding the causes of bad singing.

Brain processing causing hindrance in the efforts:


It is a recent research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology that came to a conclusion that incorrect brain processing termed as Amusia, a musical disorder, is responsible for the inability of a person to sing.

Amusia is a defect in processing the required pitch which affects 1 out of 25 people. Therefore, when such a person opens up his/her voice, it resembles a cacophony.

People with amusia are unable to pick up tunes and melodies for reasons not exactly clear though nothing is wrong with their hearing abilities. Therefore, if ears are not playing the spoilsport, according to the researchers, there is definitely something wrong in brain interpretation.

In a study with 11 people having amusia, who could perfectly distinguish differences in musical sound, functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) was done. The blood flow in the different activity areas of the brain was observed, specifically the auditory cortex, the first area to process musical notes.

The data collected from the people under study revealed that even tone-deaf people could detect the musical notes similar to the normal people but these people failed to distinguish between the notes though these were well registered in their auditory cortex.

The researchers conclude that it may be the brain structuring that fails to interpret the basic sound notes, which the normal people can easily realize and pick up in their voice, but for those with amusia, the same basic sound is not processed properly.

It can be concluded that auditory cortex is not the root of the problem and the researchers are working to find out which areas of the brain are responsible for the faulty processing of musical notes.

Therefore, if your voice is creating hindrance to become a singer, you can divert your musical perception in mastering other musical instruments.

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