I chose Tone Deaf as a blog title not because I am TD but because of my inherent modesty. The condition (an inability to hear and reproduce relative pitch) seems confined to music. TDers recognise inflections in human speech and can thus differentiate between: I thrash your child. (vs. another child), and I thrash your child. (vs. your dog).
Being TD may cause musical reluctance - MR - an unwillingness to sing or touch an instrument in someone else’s hearing. Rated obsessionally MR may match the universal disinclination to expose one’s naughty bits. As a child I suffered from MR but grew out of it, while remaining shy about the other. Mrs LdP thinks most people suffer from MR. Plutarch and Lucy have both come halfway out of the closet to this effect.
Someone who sings tunelessly when bored (eg, in the supermarket) has not rid himself, and it’s nearly always a him, of MR, merely sublimated it.
The condition is easily explained, psychopathologically. Sufferers regard music creation as akin to walking on water and its practitioners reinforce this belief by remaining aloof on the subject. People who have tried to learn music making and failed must often endure pernicious MR.
Videos of two sufferers.
CLICK ONE: Tory MP, John Redwood, then Welsh secretary, trying to disguise his ignorance of the Welsh national anthem.
CLICK TWO: Be patient, wait for two separate zoom-ins to the distant man on couch. First shot (Thinks): Oh, they’re going to sing, are they. Goodness, how vulgar they are. Second shot (Thinks): They could be voters, I must participate – by nodding, off the beat. He is George Osborne, Eton, Oxford, chancellor of the exchequer, presently saving Britain from financial disaster.