Singing development: Comparisons between Poor Pitch Singers and other Groups

Berit Lidman-Magnusson


A defective singing ability often entails a feeling of being outside a singing community. This can be experienced as a social disability. If a child, who is a poor singer, is told early by herlhis family, teachers or others that she cannot sing, this
often results in an inhibition for life (Lidman Magnusson, 1994). There are descriptions of music teachers whose negative statements about people's singing ability probably established and strengthened a dysfunction in the singing ability (Palmgren, 1885; Lind, 1897; Reberg, 1993; Rolle, 1914; Torell, 1945). Defective singing ability is described and named in different ways (Welch 1979a). The most
common criteria of a defective singing ability are:
- little ability to follow the melody contour
- little ability to follow the melody rhythm
- singing at very low pitch
- the range in singing is limited to a few tones
The range of the voice also seems to be limited to just a few notes (Lidman Magnusson, 1988, 1994). Terms used are low pitch singers, inaccurate singers, poor pitch singers, weak singers, monotones and onchi singing. I have chosen to
use Dysfunction in the Singing-ability-System (DSS) to describe an undeveloped singing ability. This term stands for inhibition - cancellation, slowing down and ceasing - of several of the mental processes, which are linked to the creation of singing ability. Given this definition, a DSS- diagnosis provides a hint that certain central phases in singing development perhaps have been blocked. My own research indicates that one can suffer from inhibited singing development without being inhibited in a more general way, that is, solely the singing-development may be blocked or damaged. Descriptions of different kinds of undeveloped singing ability are found in a number of articles and dissertations, for instance, Norioka (1992), and Hermann (1983, cited in Bruhn, 1991).

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