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A New Absolute Pitch Thread


iLaw

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I thought this topic would have died days ago, but it persists. Are any of you interested in moving the conversation to a new thread? I make the suggestion (and this new thread) because:

 

1. 99.9% of the conversation no longer deals with ... Darren's original question;

 

2. It bugs me a little bit, I admit, that someone is getting all of this free advertising.

 

Larry.

 

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... On perfect pitch in general: I experience something subliminal regarding pitch. On one occasion someone played a note on a piano and asked if I could identify it. After stewing a bit I admitted defeat. A few minutes and a distraction later I strode to the piano, named the note, and confidently played it. If I use the transpose function on my keyboard, it is almost unbearable to listen to what I am playing. This leads me to believe that, at least in my case, there is brain recognition of pitch differences, but a disconnect with respect to retrieval of tone labels.

This is actually quite common and well-documented. Pitch memory and pitch labeling are two different aspects of absolute pitch and it is common for people with little or no pitch labeling ability to nonetheless have good pitch memory, as shown by such things as noticing when a well-known song is played in an unusual key or noticing immediately that their keyboard's transpose function has inadvertently been left on (even before the guitar players come in!).

 

Larry.

 

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This is me.

 

If I hear a song on the radio in the car and pay attention, later when I get home, I can sit down at the piano and figure out the key and learn the part from memory. When we play a song that starts with vocals, I don't need a pitch, I can immediately come in on key.

 

If you play a note and ask me what note it is, I have no idea. If you ask me to hum a note, I may be able to do it, but only by thinking of a song that's in a known key, then humming a scale in my head to the requested note.

 

When I first joined my current band, it drove me nuts because they tune down a 1/2 step. I really felt lost for a while until I adjusted. On songs I sang in the old band, I had a tendency to want to come in on the original pitch, not the key we were playing (which seems it would point more to a tendency toward absolute pitch more so than relative - although I could hear it imediately as I was doing it, it was a matter almost of muscle memory or something). Since then, I've adjusted, but I think my absolute pitch has suffered with knowing two versions (I'd have trouble telling you if I'm singing it the way we do or the original key).

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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If someone plays a black note on a piano, I can tell you it's a black note. Ditto if someone plays a white note. For whatever reason, I have the ability to differentiate white and black notes.

 

I also know precisely what an E above middle C feels like to sing, so if someone asks me to sing a particular pitch, I can always start with E and then run through a scale or an interval up or down from there to get to the pitch requested.

 

What does any of this have to do with anything? I have no clue, but I felt like sharing. :D

 

Noah

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Recently, I have been using synths on my iphone to help me with public speaking:

 

- There are vocal exercises I do daily which are similar to a singer's exercises and I get a pitch off the iphone for that.

 

- Before speaking in public, I will reset the pitch of my speaking voice with a note from the iphone.

 

My natural voice is a baritone and I tend to speak above that (losing the benefit of chest resonance) unless I reset pitch.

 

So what?

 

Well, I used to come pretty close when guessing absolute pitch for songs on the radio. (Often within 3 semitones.) However with all this "reseting pitch" practice I still am about 3 semitones off. Maybe perfect pitch is not going to happen for me.

 

Jerry

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When I had my studio, I used to work with a guy (an old school Nashville session player, 40 years+) who never used a tuner; did everything by ear. Before playing he would always want to hear the what was already done, then tune his Guitar or Dobro (or what ever he was playing that day) to match it. Damned if he wasn't right on every time. Is this "relative pitch"?

 

I once tried quizzing him by playing notes and asking him to name it. I gave up trying to stump him. :freak:

Dan

 

"I hate what I've become, trying to escape who I am..."

 

 

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... On perfect pitch in general: I experience something subliminal regarding pitch. On one occasion someone played a note on a piano and asked if I could identify it. After stewing a bit I admitted defeat. A few minutes and a distraction later I strode to the piano, named the note, and confidently played it. If I use the transpose function on my keyboard, it is almost unbearable to listen to what I am playing. This leads me to believe that, at least in my case, there is brain recognition of pitch differences, but a disconnect with respect to retrieval of tone labels.

This is actually quite common and well-documented. Pitch memory and pitch labeling are two different aspects of absolute pitch and it is common for people with little or no pitch labeling ability to nonetheless have good pitch memory, as shown by such things as noticing when a well-known song is played in an unusual key or noticing immediately that their keyboard's transpose function has inadvertently been left on (even before the guitar players come in!).

 

Larry.

 

Check out Daniel Levitin's "This Is Your Brain On Music", an interesting read.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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I have the ability to communicate with corn. :thu:
.....must........not........comment.............must.......not................COMMENT......................

 

I stole it from Letterman years ago. He had a top ten list of "unknown powers of Superheros" or something. A couple of the others:

 

Lightning-fast mood swings

Really bendy thumb

The ability to score with other superhero's wives. :laugh:

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Check out Daniel Levitin's "This Is Your Brain On Music", an interesting read.

Absolutely. In fact I had Levitin in mind when I made the distinction between pitch memory and pitch labeling earlier in this thread. Here is his quick overview of absolute pitch research that he published when he was back at Stanford.

 

He's a very interesting guy.

 

Larry.

 

 

 

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Pitch memory and pitch labeling are two different aspects of absolute pitch and it is common for people with little or no pitch labeling ability to nonetheless have good pitch memory, as shown by such things as noticing when a well-known song is played in an unusual key or noticing immediately that their keyboard's transpose function has inadvertently been left on (even before the guitar players come in!).

 

Larry.

 

Yeah, that's me ... I don't have absolute pitch, rather, I know it's pitch memory. It's different because it's inconsistent, but it usually means I can fall in with people who are jamming something I don't know, or if I'm humming a melody idea, I go to the piano to play it, and very often find the starting note on first try. It's a generality usually, not so specific as "name that note", is the best way I can describe it. I'm thinking this "ability" probably improves or degrades with my recent level of practice or playing time, but I've never measured it to be sure. For me, it still seems to be something other than absolute pitch as described by Steve Nathan and Cygnus and others who hear pitches and can label them all the time. So I guess it's possible to have relative pitch combined with a reasonably good memory for pitches, right?

 

PS Larry, if you don't want to give "that guy" free advertising, consider editing your original post here to edit his name out. :)

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

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When I had my studio, I used to work with a guy (an old school Nashville session player, 40 years+) who never used a tuner; did everything by ear. Before playing he would always want to hear the what was already done, then tune his Guitar or Dobro (or what ever he was playing that day) to match it. Damned if he wasn't right on every time. Is this "relative pitch"?

 

I once tried quizzing him by playing notes and asking him to name it. I gave up trying to stump him. :freak:

 

Oh yes, that absolutely is relative pitch. I don't think that's different from what guitarists/bassists do all the time. When I played bass, live or on studio tracks, things weren't always tuned to match my tuner ... so I figured some people did not bother using a tuner and just tuned to each other. Sometimes I would make a comment, other times just let it go and quickly tune to what I was hearing. Seemed like a rookie move to me, for people to not tune their instruments to a true pitch, and that was the only reason I could think of, since we all had access to digital tuners and in the case of recording were not recording to tape, but to hard drives.

 

I wonder of your Nashville guy just got in the habit of relatively tuning because of varying tape speeds experienced in lots of recording sessions or something.

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

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... So I guess it's possible to have relative pitch combined with a reasonably good memory for pitches, right?

Yeah, we jokingly referred to it as "pretty good pitch" when we encountered people with, for example, much stronger than chance pitch labeling ability on their major instrument (say piano), but then fell apart completely when presented with pitch sets recorded off an ARP 2600 (that's one of the reasons I got the lab gig; I knew how to operate an ARP 2600!).

 

 

PS Larry, if you don't want to give "that guy" free advertising, consider editing your original post here to edit his name out. :)

 

Wish I could, especially after I so brutally hijacked it. But it was Darren's (dazzjazz) thread, so I can't edit it.

 

Larry.

 

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I think she means your post that started this thread.

"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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I liked the article that Larry linked to where they talked about people being able to identify pitches from their instrument, which some called, "Absolute Piano." :laugh:

"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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I mentioned in the other thread I have definite perfect pitch on piano, relative pitch for other things. I knew I had it on piano, but since my relative pitch is good, I never really considered PP for other sounds.

 

So a few minutes ago, I tested it. A low motor sound from my refrigerator seemed like a very low 'B'. I checked on piano and it was exact. There are birds singing outside, and I was able to guess the pitches on 4 birds, Ab, a slurring chirp from C to Bb, and one at Eb. That's 4 out of 4 tries.

 

So... maybe there's some variation of PP, where one isn't necessarily aware of it? Who knows? I don't have the patience to test further, and I also wouldn't want to become hyper aware of it. But if anyone ever wants to commission a symphony for 50 refrigerators, I'm your man.

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One time around the Thanksgiving dinner table, one of my sisters started making her crystal glass "sing" by sliding her finger around the top of it. (still with me?) I said, "Ahh, it's an A-flat." Her husband/my brother-in-law says, "You're just SAYING that!" I got up & went to the piano and played a high Ab, and told my sister to do it again. BULLSEYE. (Yes, the bro-in-law still thinks I'm an a-hole to this day.)

 

I can pick quite a few pitches from the air, but not all of them all the time: C# vs D, for example, or F# vs G, but gimme an A, E, B or C & I'm all over it. Sometimes I'll "cheat" if I realize it's a certain interval from a note I definitely "know." When I think of a song in my head, it "plays back" in the original key...but sometimes I turn out to be a semi-tone off.

 

It comes in handy: when that tipsy patron who's writing the check stumbles onstage & starts singing a tune, it's nice to be able to jump in behind them in the same key. (The first option, of course, is for the sound man to preemptively POT THEM DOWN!)

"If more of us valued food, cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." - J. R. R. Tolkien
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It comes in handy: when that tipsy patron who's writing the check stumbles onstage & starts singing a tune, it's nice to be able to jump in behind them in the same key. (The first option, of course, is for the sound man to preemptively POT THEM DOWN!)

 

Also fun in church when the "band" isn't actually organized, nor do they rehearse, nor is there an actual set list of hymns, nor even a clue what will be sung, when, and in what key. (played bass in such an environment back in the early 90's, a very black charismatic church)

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... A low motor sound from my refrigerator seemed like a very low 'B'...

Yeah, one trick for appearing to have absolute pitch is to listen for a nearby 60-cycle hum, which sits right in the crack between Bb and B. One fluorescent fixture in the room and suddenly you're Mozart.

 

Larry.

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One fluorescent fixture in the room and suddenly you're Mozart.

Hardly. I never tested myself on it, and I don't care if I have PP or not. I have it on piano, which allowed me to learn stuff like Ives, Milhaud and Ravel pieces off records when I was younger... although I no longer learn things directly off recordings. I'd never tried it with non-musical pitches before.
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Oops, sorry if my reply sounded accusatory. None was intended.

 

In the lab we had to watch out for the problem, however, because it was well-known in music school that the world hums a B half-flat.

 

Don Ellis was OK with that. ;)

 

Larry.

 

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