Van Gogh’s ear for music

Van Gogh’s ear for music

Meaning

  • Van Gogh was a painter who cut his ear off and this phrase is a pun intended one referring to being tone deaf.
  • When referred to a singer it implies that they are not good and tend to go off key a lot.
  • Someone who cannot understand the different and differences between musical tones.

Example Sentences

  1. Her singing is so bad she has Van Gogh’s ear for music.
  2. My uncle managed just fine in the music industry even though he has a Van Gogh’s ear for music. He used to take care of musical supplies.
  3. This is a classic album. If you can’t make sense of it then you have Van Gogh’s ear for music.

Origin
The origin obviously comes from the incident of Van Gogh, the painter cutting his left ear off after a series of mental illnesses. But the literary origin of the phrase is not available. Van Gogh, after cutting his ear off and rendering himself totally deaf continued to play loud music and tried to sing along too. He was always off key of course. So the expression also refers to someone who can’t sing very well.

One sources says that the phrase is printed in the World Fact Book, which was printed in Siberia.

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