The genetic basis of singing ability

Singing is the most universal means for engaging with music and provides an ideal model for investigating the genetic basis of music abilities.  The first aim of this world-first project is to examine the heritability of everyday singing using objective measures that assess the accuracy of singing in tune.  We applied the well-established method of a twin study design to determine the relative contribution of genes and environmental factors on singing ability.  We also advanced methodology in the field by designing technologically sophisticated online software for the capture of live singing performances and for the comprehensive assessment of music background.  The second aim is to uncover genes for singing ability in large Australian families of high-performing singers.  This will be achieved by determining the mode of inheritance of a phenotype for high singing ability in these families and performing linkage analysis on DNA samples.  Overall, this project has important implications for understanding the level at which genetic factors influence innate complex human behaviours and the nature of gene-environment interactions that support the optimal development of music talent.  This project is funded by ARC Discovery Project grants.



Enquiries: Daniel Yeom (


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