A Mind for Singing
Many of us experience the guilty pleasure of schadenfreude when observing the mishaps of poor-pitch singers on shows like American Idol. “How”, we wonder, “could anyone sing so poorly?” In this talk I will attempt to turn that question on its head. Given the complexity involved in vocal pitch matching, I will argue, one may rightly wonder how any of us can sing accurately! My talk will consider singing as a neuro-cognitive skill. I propose that you should be awestruck by singing skill based on (a) the indirect way in which singers match voice to pitch, (b) the considerable motor and cognitive flexibility required for singing, and (c) the complex interpersonal coordination required by singing along with other singers and/or musicians. Developmentally, it appears that singing abilities develop by practice rather than spontaneously, and may not be constrained by a critical period. So this incredible skill may in fact be accessible to almost anyone, even the poor souls on American Idol.
--2013 MIMM NeuroMusic Conference: "Modeling the Musical Experience" hosted by McMaster University, November 23, 2013. Related URL https://mimm.mcmaster.ca/events/neuromusic-conference/neuromusic-conference-2013-modeling-the-musical-experience.
2013 NeuroMusic Conference
Pfordresher, Peter Q.; Fagan, Leslie; Rensink-Hoff, Rachel; McMaster University Chamber Choir; and Halpern, Andrea, "A Mind for Singing" (2013). Other Faculty Research and Publications. 124.