Imagine listening to a piece of music, and perceiving a rattle of pots and pans instead of the harmony of the combined component sounds; or developing an insatiable desire to play the piano after being struck by lightning; or to be able to reproduce a complex piece of music after hearing only once, despite being blind, autistic and needing round-the-clock care.
People with these conditions are among those encountered by Alan Yentob, in a documentary called Oliver Sacks: Tales of Music and the Brain, which was broadcast on BBC1 last night. As its title suggests, the programme features neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, who explores such conditions in his recent book, Musicophilia.
The 50-minute programme is now available for viewing and download on the BBC iPlayer website, and will be online for the next 6 days. To whet your appetite, above is a short YouTube clip in which Sacks discusses the amusias, a number of related conditions in which the perception of music is impaired in one way or another.