The Real Culprit Behind Off-Tune Singing

Whether you love it, hate it, are good, bad, or just like to listen to it, singing has had an impact on lives, communities, and cultures. But unfortunately, there are some people in this world for whom singing is not their “cup of tea.” So for you music lovers that always wonder, “Why am I such a bad singer?!” here’s your culprit.


While there are multiple reasons behind off-tune singing, they are primarily rooted in cognitive function. For instance, some aspiring singers may be born with
congenital amusia, more commonly known as tone deafness. As Scientific American writes, despite extensive investigation, the cause of tone deafness remains unexplained and contrary to popular assumption, the disorder is actually quite uncommon.


More commonly, poor singing may be part of a larger genetic issue. It’s very possible that someone who’s a bad singer could have gotten it from one of their elders or ancestors.
Researchers at the University of Montreal compared people with and without musical experience and training. They tested subjects’ accuracy at matching their voices to various pitches. The results proved that 40 to 62 percent of non-musicians were poor singers. They also found that 35 percent of poor singers had trouble matching the pitch of their voice to various instruments, and 5 percent were unable to hear differences in pitch and sound. 


“There are certainly people who are more natural singers, and the physiological shape of their vocal tracts can give a more or less pleasing sound to the voice,” says Sean Hutchins, lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research at the university. But Hutchins concedes that, “The best singers, just like the best athletes, will be those who are blessed with natural talents and have devoted large amount of practice to their craft.”


Therefore, another culprit behind bad singing is not practicing or mastering the skill, which is vital for improvement. But for every off-tune singer out there, their voice solely depends on who they are. Whether they are tone deaf, have a genetic issue, or just aren’t practicing enough, we’ll never know for sure.


But if you’re not a particularly good singer, don’t feel disheartened! As William Saroyan noted, “Their singing wasn’t particularly good, but the feeling with which they sang was not bad at all.” Even if you can’t sing, sing from the heart.