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David Burge Perfect Pitch Course


dazzjazz

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I used to think you have it or you don't - I don't know if it can be taught.

 

The name is kind of a misnomer - I think what's really going on is really good relative pitch along with some pitch memory.

 

It can be both a blessing and a curse - forget ever using a transpose button, and out of tune instruments and singers are more painful the better you train your ear.

Moe

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I used to think you have it or you don't - I don't know if it can be taught.

 

I started to do an absolute pitch course (can't remember if it was this one or another), and it was definitely starting to work.

 

I stopped after I heard several stories of people losing a lot of their enjoyment of music because of this ability.

 

I still have better absolute pitch recognition than relative pitch. It takes me a very long while before I can cope with a transposed song.

 

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I have more or less perfect absolute pitch (it varies on how good a day I'm having, I've found!) and yep, using a transpose function totally disorientates me. However, I'm not that bothered by old recordings that are several cents flat etc, maybe because I'm not physically interacting.

 

On the other hand my bassist has perfect pitch and any such glitches make him want to crawl the wall...

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Interestingly, of the four people I know that have perfect pitch, three of them are drummers. Fat load of good it does them!

 

I'm not sure how useful it really is, though. I suppose it would make transposing tunes much easier, but I've always done fine with halfway decent relative pitch. I took an atonal sight singing class once as well. Certainly would have been nice to have perfect pitch then.

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As somebody who developed an equivalent through personally memorising pitches.. this form of perfect pitch does not take the fun out of music... the transpose button does sound wrong yes.... so don't use it... and if your more aware of hearing people that are playing badly and bad tuning... to say music becomes less fun because your getting better at it is absurd... we all need to grow continually or why are we even bothering?
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Guys-

When I wrote the OP I nearly wrote that I didn't want any opinions about the usefulness of Perfect Pitch, but hesitated. I didn't want to seem narky.

 

However, I really DO want to hear from people who have done the course...

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Guys-

When I wrote the OP I nearly wrote that I didn't want any opinions about the usefulness of Perfect Pitch, but hesitated. I didn't want to seem narky.

 

However, I really DO want to hear from people who have done the course...

 

DazzJazz, they kinda have to go together in order to understand what the course is claiming. I've not done the course, but any union member has seen the various ads for the last 20 years. He buys a full page ad on the last page of the union newspaper, and the ads have been a source of amusement and minor controversy (he had one with a sexy girl on it, and some people got their panties in a bunch.). There's a certain "snake oil" feel to the ads, partly because they are corny and partly because his claim is nonsensical.

 

I have perfect pitch. I'm one of the test subjects that scientists have used. There was a well-publicized test several years ago, I'm one of the few that "passed". I dropped out when they asked for blood and hair samples, seriously. :rolleyes:

 

There are many, many misconceptions about it. Here are my experiences, and mine only (I'm not trying to disagree with the other posts, just stating my experiences):

 

1. I don't cringe any more than anyone else if someone is singing or playing out of tune. Even American Idol watchers can recognize "pitchy". :laugh: If there's one thing I can do that some of the judges can't: I know if they are flat or sharp (Randy is often wrong ;))

 

2. I can play as out of tune (on violin or any instrument) as anyone else, moreso if I don't practice. :laugh: Being in tune is a technical skill based on repetition and practice.

 

3. I can transpose as well or as poorly as anyone else. Again, it's a learned technical skill.

 

4. I cannot be wrong. Doesn't work like that at all.

 

5. For me to be wrong would be the same as you seeing a red stop sign and thinking it is blue, it's the exact same thing.

 

6. Overall, it's not a big deal. I don't feel one ounce of musical superiority because of it. It's a good parlor trick, when people can bang on a piano and try to "trick me". They can't, unless it's a tone cluster.

 

7. See my recent post "Chord Help wanted", it's a good example. I knew the notes automatically. After that, I'm just like anyone else, and a knowledge of theory is a learned skill.

 

With all that, I would shy away from the Burge course (and look at others instead) simply because his claim is nonsense. It's like teaching a color-blind person to be non-color-blind, it's just dumb. Perfect pitch should be called "natural pitch", because that's what it ultimately is.

 

Anyone can benefit from "ear training", I can just as well as anyone else. In my case it would be more of recognizing advanced chords, voicings, Recognizing certain chord progressions etc. A guy like Steve Nathan would do better than me, since it's part of his "day job". As a classical musician I need none of that. It's only since I'm concentrating on arranging pop stuff so much that I'm trying to learn or re-learn the stuff from theory classes almost 30 years ago.

 

Anyhoo, that's my rant and I'm sticking by it. :laugh: If I were to pick up any sort of "ear training" course, it wouldn't be the one by Burge simply because he doesn't seem to have the slightest understanding of what "perfect pitch" means, based on his claims.

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Yeah, Burge's ads are cheesy and somewhat of a turn-off, whether it's the fist-pumping piano player, him in the hat trying to look cool, or the others. And the text, well, Cygnus covered that.

 

That said, I'll admit it. I bought his course years ago (on cassette!!) and gave up early. There were two factors that made me do so. First was that you needed someone else to play the notes for it to work best (I had no one back then, awwww) and second was that it seemed like all he kept saying was to "listen, listen, listen, listen..." I knew that much. The padded mailer bag with the cassettes still sits in a closet.

 

A few years ago, I bought this course and it seemed pretty good. I made some progress with this technique, but never finished it.

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My ear training teachers in university all said the same thing about courses like Burges': it's snake oil. Plain and simple.

 

Psychology studies have shown time and time again that perfect or absolute or natural pitch is a gift given to you at birth. You either have it or you don't. Some people have a very acute sense of perfect pitch, others have to think about the note for a second or two to recognize it.

 

In the end, whether you have perfect pitch or not doesn't change the need for your ear training to be developed. Proof of that was that even those with perfect pitch had to take the ear training classes in university. And it's not like they got everything right all the time.

 

My suggestion to you is to start recognizing scale degrees. Then types of chords and eventually recognizing the functions of those chords (ie ii, V, bVI, etc.). This is much more useful. This way you're not stuck to one single key, or playing in perfect tune all the time. Transposing on the fly after is a joke because you're not thinking notes but scale degrees.

 

Jazz cats use this all the time. They don't think of licks with note names but rather with scale degrees. For example: arpeggio starting on the 3rd up to the ninth and chromatically down to the seventh. Same with chords to songs.

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Proof of that was that even those with perfect pitch had to take the ear training classes in university. And it's not like they got everything right all the time.

 

If they missed any in Ear Training 101, they either didn't have it or were still drunk from the night before. :laugh: Other aspects of ear training, such as Solfege, inversions, progressions etc you're spot on. Ye olde "guess this note" is pretty foolproof, you either know it or you don't.

 

My suggestion to you is to start recognizing scale degrees. Then types of chords and eventually recognizing the functions of those chords (ie ii, V, bVI, etc.). This is much more useful.

 

This is good advice. :thu:

 

I did a google search and came upon this free site: clonk Looks pretty good, there are lil audio tests at various levels that might be useful.

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If they missed any in Ear Training 101, they either didn't have it or were still drunk from the night before. :laugh: Other aspects of ear training, such as Solfege, inversions, progressions etc you're spot on. Ye olde "guess this note" is pretty foolproof, you either know it or you don't.

 

No, they all got exempt from the first few courses of just recognizing basic intervals and simple triads. Hell, even I got exempt from those and I'm very far from having perfect pitch.

 

I'm talking the more advanced courses where you had to do 2 part musical dictation, atonal melodies, 4-note chords with extensions, etc. Then there was the singing solfege part that wasn't a given just because you had good ears.

 

And oh, yeah, there's rhythm too! Man, that's a whole other story.

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If they missed any in Ear Training 101, they either didn't have it or were still drunk from the night before. :laugh: Other aspects of ear training, such as Solfege, inversions, progressions etc you're spot on. Ye olde "guess this note" is pretty foolproof, you either know it or you don't.

 

No, they all got exempt from the first few courses of just recognizing basic intervals and simple triads. Hell, even I got exempt from those and I'm very far from having perfect pitch.

 

 

When I was in school, I missed the placement test on the first day, I was doing a very important festival. The dept head, being a jackass bureaucrat, wouldn't give it again. I was in the office singing notes saying "Watch, here's an A" to her tone-deaf self. Wouldn't budge. I went to ear training 101 maybe 3 times, wanted to jump out the window. I never went back and just took an F, the only person probably in history who has perfect pitch and has an F in ear training 101. I carry that like a badge of distinction. :thu:

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... 5. For me to be wrong would be the same as you seeing a red stop sign and thinking it is blue, it's the exact same thing...

This.

 

Say, we haven't had a perfect/absolute (the words are interchangeable) pitch discussion, with or without David Burge, in a very long time! To answer the OP directly, while I believe that absolute pitch can be learned (in fact is always learned), I nonetheless agree that the David Burge course is snakeoil. This thread is another of the many examples where after multiple posts, nobody ever seems to step forward and says "why yes, I did the David Burge course and now I have perfect pitch!"

 

This is a topic I can get (and have gotten here) very long-winded on, but I'll try to curb myself and say simply that, although the analogy is not perfect, perfect pitch is pitch memory just like "perfect color" is color memory, as Dave suggests in the quote above. Nobody is born with it; we all learn it (or not) at a very early age. One big difference between color and pitch, however, is that there are strong language recognition reasons (particularly in Western languages where pitch conveys less information) for favoring relative pitch over absolute pitch. Thus most of us quickly learn (as very young children) to discard absolute pitch information and focus instead on relative pitch.

 

I'll stop by offering as an example children who have developed "half step low" absolute pitch by being raised in a household with a piano tuned a half step flat. Where do you think their perfect pitch came from? They learned it from the piano of course.

 

Larry.

 

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I'll stop by offering as an example children who have developed "half step low" absolute pitch by being raised in a household with a piano tuned a half step flat. Where do you think their perfect pitch came from? They learned it from the piano of course.
I had not heard that one. Any links? (Not that I doubt you, I'd just like to delve deeper if possible.)

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Diana Deutsch (UC San Diego, Psychology Dept.), but I just did a quick Svengle and didn't turn up an internet link. Diana Deutsch (who happens to have absolute pitch herself), by the way, is a guiding light on all manner of absolute pitch research.

 

Larry.

 

 

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Diana Deutsch (UC San Diego, Psychology Dept.), but I just did a quick Svengle and didn't turn up an internet link. Diana Deutsch (who happens to have absolute pitch herself), by the way, is a guiding light on all manner of absolute pitch research.
Wow - I searched just for her and there's all sort of interesting research. I could get lost in this for days...

 

http://deutsch.ucsd.edu/

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Here, I'll tie this thread together by quoting Diana Deutsch on absolute pitch learning programs. This quote is from her "The Enigma of Absolute Pitch" published in Acoustics Today (Acoustical Society of America) in October of 2006:

 

"Indeed, on browsing the Web one encounters an impressive number of offers to supply the reader with training programs for absolute pitch that are guaranteed to produce success. Unfortunately, however, these claims are unsupported by the scientific evidence."

 

Larry.

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When does somebody "know" they have perfect pitch? My daughter is 7 and she can find any random note I play in 1-3 tries. Could she be developing perfect pitch? Or perhaps those with perfect pitch have since "day one"?

 

 

I do think my little girl for sure has relative pitch. If I play a scale or song in the key of C, for example, and then I stop and play some random diatonic tones, she can always find them on the first try.

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Have you taught her anything about music, montunoman? That could be what's holding her back. If you have perfect pitch, but don't know the note names and such, finding them on the piano to repeat them back is probably hit or miss. You can't recognize an F if you don't know what an F is, right?

 

Actually, that's an interesting question to anyone like Cygnus who has perfect pitch. If it's something you're born with, can you remember what it was like before you learned about music at all? Or did you not realize you had perfect pitch until you learned about music?

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I went as far as extremely well-tuned relative pitch, and no farther.

 

I did not lose my enjoyment of music per se, though one could make the case that the cerebral nature of ear training forces one to analyze music a bit more, which could lead to less tolerance for contrite, amelodic, and otherwise pablum-esque pop music... :freak:

 

The most important thing it accomplished for me was make it 1000 times easier to learn songs by ear. That in and of itself was worth the trouble.

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Yeah, she's been taking violin since she was four and piano since she was five.

 

I'm certain she has relative pitch- but not sure if she has perfect pitch. Like I said she can identify random notes very quickly, often on the first try.

 

 

A good friend of mine tells me he started on piano at age five and didn't realize he perfect pitch until he was about twelve. He says his teachers did nothing as far teaching him aural skills. He says he can't remember if there was a period that he was close to finding pitches or if he could always just find them spot on.

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Actually, that's an interesting question to anyone like Cygnus who has perfect pitch. If it's something you're born with, can you remember what it was like before you learned about music at all? Or did you not realize you had perfect pitch until you learned about music?

 

I had never heard of it. It went like this: I started violin at 7. At 10 I went to the local University to play for a new teacher. He said "I'm curious about something" and started plunking notes on the piano. I got them all, and he said I had perfect pitch. I was unimpressed, I assumed everyone could do that.

 

As I said earlier, it's not that big of a deal. I've impressed exactly zero chicks with it. :laugh: For a superpower, it reminds me of "Family Guy" in the episode that they all get superpowers, and Meg's superpower is growing her fingernails long. :laugh: I can tell you the key of every song I've ever heard, they stay in key in my brain. Yesterday is in F, Beethoven symphonies are C, D Eb Bb Cmin F A F Dmin. That's not something I memorized, I can just pull them up in my head and hear them. If that ever comes up on Jeopardy!, I'll kick ass. :laugh:

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also is perfect pitch a result of playing an instrument or would one still have perfect pitch even if they never played an instrument?

 

They would have to be able to "translate". If one didn't play or sing, they would have no point of reference, they wouldn't know how to name the tones.

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If you have perfect pitch, but don't know the note names and such.....

 

You can't recognize an F if you don't know what an F is, right?

 

My opinion on this is that certain people are born with 'pitch recognition' otherwise known as 'perfect', or 'absolute' pitch.

 

Where the education to this comes in is identifying certain pitches (frequecies/Hz) to the accepted norm.

 

For example - in the West we are trained using an equally-tempered 12-note scale ie: A-A etc where A = 440Hz.

 

If that is the point of reference, then that's how someone with perfect pitch will identify those notes.

 

If, however, you are brought up in a country using different scales (Arabic/Indonesian, you name it),

 

the point of reference is different - so an A to C# 3rd in a different tuning might be a few cents 'out',

 

compared to what we're used to in an equally tempered tuning.

 

That's where the 'educational' aspect comes in... 'nature vs nurture'.

 

 

I, for one, don't believe you can be taught perfect pitch - especially as you get older.....

 

relative pitch is a different matter.

 

In my training as a piano tuner, that was the most important thing -

 

god only knows the hundreds of pianos over the years I've had to work on, that simply could not be tuned to A440,

 

so you have to shrug your shoulders & get on with what you've got to work with.

 

That's where having perfect pitch would prove to be a hindrance, rather than a help.

 

John.

 

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Interestingly, of the four people I know that have perfect pitch, three of them are drummers. Fat load of good it does them!
I have a drummer buddy who has perfect pitch. Kind of like Cygnus was saying about 'knowing' the keys of songs he's heard even only once pretty much permanently, my buddy is the same way. He had *just* joined a group I was playing with, done one gig with us. The next gig, we had a sub bass player who used to do the gig, but hadn't in a few months. Dude had forgotten some of the changes, and as I look up to start calling them out, I hear the drummer calling out the changes to a tune he'd played only once before. Not really fair....
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My mom was my first piano teacher, and she tested me for perfect pitch in the first year after I started taking lessons, just as soon as I knew the note names. I think I was 5 when she figured out I could call out any note I heard.

Moe

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also is perfect pitch a result of playing an instrument or would one still have perfect pitch even if they never played an instrument?

 

They would have to be able to "translate". If one didn't play or sing, they would have no point of reference, they wouldn't know how to name the tones.

If you read some of the studies by Diana Deutsch, you'll find that those who natively fluent speak a tone-based language like Vietnamese or Mandarin have the ability to repeat pitches of their language nearly exactly over separate days. A study showed that this ability carried over to music.

 

http://www.aip.org/148th/deutsch.html

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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