The Ballad of Tin Ears


Many of us love to sing, but we're not all good at it. Some of us can't even carry a tune and are told not to sing. Tim Falconer dives into neuroscience, psychology -- and music itself -- to find out why he's a bad singer - and if there's anything he can do about it.

Tim Falconer is writing a book about singing for House of Anansi Press. Watch for Bad Singer in 2016.

Participants in the program:

Micah Barnes, singer, songwriter and vocal coach in Toronto.

Tyler Ellis, musician and music teacher at Morse Street Public School in Toronto.

Sean Hutchins, Director of Research at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. His lab is the Royal Conservatory of Music Research Centre.

Psyche Loui, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Music, Imaging and Neural Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Connecticut.

Isabelle Peretz, Co-director of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) and Canada Research Chair in Neurocognition of Music at Université de Montréal.

Peter Pfordresher, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Auditory Perception and Action Lab at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.

Frank Russo, Associate Professor of Psychology and founder of the Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology (SMART) Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Gillian Turnbull, ethnomusicologist and Instructor at Ryerson University.

Tone Deafness Test

BRAMS Lab Online Amusia Test

Reading List

How Music Works by David Byrne, published by McSweeney's, 2012.

Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning by Gary Marcus, published by Penguin, 2012.

Musicophilia: Tales Of Music And The Brain by Oliver Sacks, published by Knopf, 2007.

This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, published by Penguin, 2006.

"Face the Music"
by Tim Falconer, Maisonneuve, Spring, 2012.

 "The influence of vocal training and acting experience on measures of voice quality and emotional genuineness" by Steven R. Livingstone, Deanna H. Choi and Frank A. Russo, Frontiers in Psychology, 2014.

"The Linked Dual Representation Model of Vocal Perception and Production" by Sean Hutchins and Sylvain Moreno, Frontiers in Psychology, 2013.

"Tone-Deafness: a Disconnection Syndrome?" by Psyche Loui, David Alsop and Gottfried Schlaug, Journal of Neuroscience, 2009.

"Poor-Pitch Singing in the Absence of 'Tone Deafness'" by Peter Q. Pfordresher and Steven Brown, Music Perception, 2007.

"Congenital Amusia: A Disorder of Fine-Grained Pitch Discrimination" by Isabelle Peretz et al, Neuron, 2002.

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