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#2966564 - 01/03/19 11:55 AM "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch"
p90jr Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 3281
I stumbled onto this on youtube...

I agree with him (and like his other vids and teaching ideas).

What we regard as "innate musical talent" is a good sense of relative pitch. That is what just got my daughter - using just her untrained voice, since she doesn't play an instrument, yet - into a "talented" music program at school. She aced tests in singing back melodies after they'd been played for her once, at differentiating pitches, at telling apart melodies that varied very slightly... and I didn't realize all 6-year old kids can't do all of that... but I guess not all kids sit next to dad and his acoustic guitar and sing Beatles and Big Star songs all the time. And my parents being musicians and music teachers are probably why once I learned the basic scale of the trumpet as a kid I intuitively blasted out the melodies of the Star Wars theme and Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" to the amazement of my friends...

There was a kid I played in the school band with in 9th grade with perfect pitch, He played the clarinet and oboe, his parents were symphony players and had drilled him since he was baby and raised him only listening to classical music. It was impressive, and he was a stellar musician (the oboe is probably the hardest band instrument there is...). I guess he went on to major in music, it was all he did...

I've known a few people with perfect pitch but no musical instruction or knowledge of theory, etc., and it did no good... for one guy, I thought it was a hindrance: he can't stand bent notes or vibrato or anything that isn't a dead on pitch. I knew an Asperger's spectrum kid with perfect pitch who was also a hopelessly awful pianist. But if someone's cell phone rang or a bird chirped or the AC kicked on or anything produced a pitch his hand would uncontrollably hit the exact matching note on the keyboard.

Anyway, I've considered all the "develop perfect pitch" things to be scams, and he kind of proves that... for whatever reason I can pick up a guitar and instinctively tune the A string so close that it freaks people out and they ask if I have perfect pitch, but I don't... I have just managed to memorize that tone after all these years somehow, and it isn't completely right (a few cents off, usually). His son's perfect pitch abilities under his instruction are FREAKY.

Thought some of you might find it all interesting:




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#2966567 - 01/03/19 12:26 PM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: p90jr]
GregC Offline
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Registered: 10/26/03
Posts: 6232
Loc: Discovery Bay, California
Originally Posted By: p90jr
I stumbled onto this on youtube...

I agree with him (and like his other vids and teaching ideas).

What we regard as "innate musical talent" is a good sense of relative pitch.

Y[/video]


His videos are very good. I agree with the connection of innate talent connected to relative pitch

Like most, its easy to use myself as an example. I can roughly replicate most stuff by ear, as long as the tempo is under 115. Over that, I need Audacity to slow it down.

Fast ripping solos are a challenge due to note speed.
Audacity again.

Most of my time is spent on originals. Its great to build instrumentals with a message.

My Dad had 'play by ear' skill, too. But didn't take it as far to be considered a serious musician.
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#2966667 - 01/04/19 04:27 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: GregC]
whitefang Offline
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The best I've ever been able to do( but not for sometime now) is to instinctively vocally harmonize.

Plus, due more to recognizing a number of chords when I was younger, I was able to figure out what a song's "progression" was in a few minutes.

But I have to say that those are a "use it or lose it" kind of thing, and due to circumstances beyond my control,I lost them. frown
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#2966746 - 01/04/19 10:36 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: whitefang]
d / halfnote Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 7593
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Thanks for the links, P90 !

From my reading, perfect pitch is a very specialized sensibility & may be akin to things like those cats who can immediately calculate what weekday it was on 12 / 7 / 1842, etc.
It's been documented in all sorts of ppl outside music, e.g., old school car mechanics who could diagnose engines by the pitch freq of rotating parts.
Besides other things mentioned, it's been known to be problematic for musicians who're uncomfortable when some music is transposed or who's hearing loses upper freq acuity as the age & what they hear no longer matches their mental idea of how a piece should sound so that music actually becomes disturbing rather than a pleasure for them to hear.

Even for those to whom it presents no problem, it often is tied to their familiarity w/the source, i.e., they recognize the pitch of some instruments better than others (prolly related to timbral elements that color the perceived pitch).

Relative pitch is definitely a more useful skill.
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#2966960 - 01/05/19 07:51 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: d / halfnote]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11896
Loc: Northern California
I was noodling around in my practice room and at the end after stretching strings I noticed my 5th string was no longer in tune. Since I was through playing I just tuned it by ear. The next day knowing my ear is not perfect and the 5th string was probably out of tune, I threw my snap on tuner on at it came in not 1 cent sharp or 1 cent flat. A dead on 440 LOL!

I thought about what P90 had said about his uncanny ability to hit that A string so close that it freaks people out! I also thought about the guy in the videos saying the masters didn't know what 440 was back then and may have been a whole step down or up but all the intervals would be the same...from playing scales I couldn't agree more. I know I couldn't pick out the notes being played randomly like the kid in the vid if tested. I knew I must have relative pitch as explained. But, I still wonder if P90 and I were somehow entering the ball park!


I found it interesting that the kid being tested for relative pitch was done by telling the difference between a minor and a major chord. That's what I call hearing the flat 3rd vs the major 3rd. I really appreciate songs that use both like Sleep Walk, Since I Fell For You, Pretty Woman, etc. I hear the transition in many tunes...in tunes like The Way, the verse is in the minor and the chorus switches to the relative major (or vise versa) which I find as a song writing trick used in Latin and jazzy tunes...

Another note that gets my attention in the Pentatonic scales is the added flat 5. I use it in both the major and minor Pentatonic. I found I was always bending up to it or sliding up or down using it. So my 5 note scale became a 6 note scale whether playing in the major or minor Pentatonic and using less bends.

Anyway, although I know it's relative pitch, I can't help thinking that certain notes and certain chords appeal to me from back in my kindergarten days. While I was never one in ten thousand, I felt better finding out in the videos that most of the classical masters did not have perfect pitch either LOL! cool


Edited by Larryz (01/05/19 07:54 AM)
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#2966994 - 01/05/19 11:05 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: Larryz]
d / halfnote Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 7593
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Two aspects of this that I find kinda odd & kinda intriguing...

I never realized how many ppl depend on outboard tuners.
That's OK &, in some pro situations maybe an important time saver
BUT
ppl have been tuning instruments for quite some time.
Further, tuning by ear is as vital a skill as a player may need --- to be able to get yer note-throwing machine in tune all by yer own bad self...ain't it ? idk..

The other thing is that European tuning standards have shifted over time, generally gradually rising.
That's always been a point of interest to me when I hear ppl pontificating on the supposed inherent emotional or expressive qualities of diff keys (which in relevance here are diff pitch sets &, in base, different keys).

The 3rd thing (sprung that one on ya outta the blue, didn't I ? grin )
& one that's even more esoteric, is that adjustments to standards (meantone temperament; equal temperament; etc) require not just diff tunings but adjustments to our ears to handle effectively.

Anyone really experienced in that realm ?
Thoughts in general ?
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#2967204 - 01/06/19 08:27 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: d / halfnote]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11896
Loc: Northern California
I'm not familiar with meantone temperament or European tuning standards. +1 Being able to tune your guitar/instrument by ear is a good skill to have (provided you have a tuning fork or another way to get to A=440 to start with). Everyone I know uses a tuner and most of them are now the clip on the headstock type. They make it easy to tune in a crowd or on a dark stage and are highly accurate these days. I pretty much rely on mine and check tuning at least once every hour. It gets everybody in the same tuning very quickly and you could [pick] out anyone to play with and you will both be in tune. I have seen guys that feel they can correct the tuning and fine tune by ear after using a tuner. You can also use the tuner to see how good your ear really is.


After watching the videos, I think the snap on tuner has perfect pitch. It would pass the test as it tells you which note you are playing anywhere on the fret board at random and if the note is flat or sharp. You can actually use one to learn where the notes are on a guitar... cool

ps. You can also play along with most backing tracks and lessons on YouTube or with records, CD's, DVD's, radio stations, etc. If you're tuned to 440. For me, the tuner makes it fast and easy to be very close to the right tuning on every string...I see a lot of capo and altered tuning guys relying on the tuners for quick changes between songs...


Edited by Larryz (01/06/19 08:41 AM)
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#2967246 - 01/06/19 10:37 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: Larryz]
d / halfnote Offline
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Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 7593
Loc: no longer lexington, Kenfunky,...
Meantone is just another version of equal temperament but w/a tweak of the 5th. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament ]
By European tuning I simply meant the system(s) in use in Western cultures as compared to the tuning system(s) in Asian or trad African & S Amerrican cultures.
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#2967294 - 01/06/19 02:46 PM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: d / halfnote]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 11896
Loc: Northern California
The meantone article is well above my pay grade...interesting stuff though! I dig music from other cultures and the vocals, harmonies, dance, tunings, instruments, rhythms, vibe, etc, are all very entertaining... cool
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#2967636 - 01/08/19 01:00 AM Re: "Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch" [Re: Larryz]
skipclone 1 Offline
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Registered: 08/21/03
Posts: 8310
Loc: Japan
I`ve also heard it referred to as Archimedes` comma-a variance between the tempered and scientific or just scale. A440 or A4, is four octaves up from A110. But in the scientific scale, every octave would be slightly above or below 110, 220 etc.
I have good relative pitch. I`ve tried out guitars in stores numerous times, and Mr. store guy uses a tuner and hands me the guitar, and then I fine tune it. Perfect pitch is another ball game.
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