The science of singing, part 3: the ear

Following goals and the voice, we have the ear.

A lot of people sing the tune (pardon the pun) that they are tone deaf.

Now many people will disagree with me – but the ability to recognise sounds at a certain frequency is actually a function of the brain. If people were truly ‘tone deaf’ then they would not have the ability to recognise and enjoy songs. If you turn on the radio, your dog does not start dancing to the tune because s/he does not recognise the sounds as a song.

Dogs will respond to different sounds like another dog howling, or very high frequencies that we cannot even hear, but they will not respond to a song or a piece or organised sound like we do.

Some theorists suggest that there are 7 types of intelligence, and music is one of them. Much in the same way as the brain has the ability to decode language, so the brain is able to decode and encode sound if it is taught how to do so. If the music intelligence centre of the brain is not activated, then yes, the person will battle to sing in key, and will be pronounced as ‘tone deaf.’

The ability to hear sound and re-create it is also a fascinating element of the human brain. Sound travels down the tube from the pinna and reverberates against the tympanic membrane (the eardrum). This is turn vibrates the three bones (hammer, anvil, stirrups), which in turn vibrate the cochlea and the organs of Corti. These fine little hairs pick up the sound and transmit them to the auditory nerve, which transmits the sound to the brain. The brain then interprets and decodes the sound in terms of some sort of frame of reference (like the 440 MHz of the note A).

This is the true miracle of the human being: the brain is then able to release a certain amount of breath to allow the cords to vibrate at 440 MHz, and re-create the A sound that was heard.

But ironically, despite the many naysayers, anybody is able to do this – if they really want to.

This concludes the 3-part series on the science of singing.

Posted on by Mallguide in Music, Travel and Holidays Leave a comment

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