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Absolute Pitch


scyzoryk

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Anyone here claim to have it?

 

I was researching it on the internet. Is it worth it to blow $40 for the heavily advertised products that claim to teach you absolute pitch?

 

And for those who have it, if you were to add an effect such as a flanger, or chorus, or mess around with your amp settings, would you still be able to hear the note?

 

What about songs that sound very synth-y?

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from what I've heard, it cannot be taught. You must be born with it.

 

Wouldn't that be a cool thing to research as a genetisit? Where does perfect pitch come from?

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I've never met anyone with perfect pitch. I have a G (open G) stuck in my head and if I work at it and got back to practicing ear training excercises I used to be able to relate what I'm hearing to what's in my head. I was never very quick or efficient at it and by all means my ears can be distracted from it. I need relative quiet and I can tune a guitar or bass within a microtone (less than a half step/one fret) without a tuner. I don't know if that's anything special but the lore I've heard of perfect pitch is way beyond whatever I have.

 

I'm not sure if I agree with the statement that perfect pitch cannot be taught. I was all but tone-deaf when I first started playing...my sister had been playing violin for 6 years when I started music and she hated when I tuned because I was using one of those annoying tuners that plays a note for you to tune to instead of just telling you if you're right or not and I could never tell that it was out of tune...at all...ever. Before I graduated highschool I had better trained ears than almost anyone I knew. *thank you to whoever came up with the idea of the performing arts school*

 

If I could have made that kind of leap with a little work, I don't think it would be impossible to achieve perfect pitch.

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I have what I think is called 'relative' pitch but not perfect pitch. I knew a guy who did and he would hear something and call out a note, go over to a piano or his guitar and play that note. He never missed! We lost many a bet trying to bet against him. He got rich off of us!!
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My high school physics teacher was also a guitar player and told me to memorize A (440 Hz). Never bothered to do it though.

 

He could tune the A string and then the guitar. Always matched with the tuner.

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My dad has perfect pitch. I was tuning a guitar the other day and from the next room he was calling out what note and wether it was sharp or flat. The tuner agreed with him 100%. Freaking amazing! Wish I could do it...

Tenstrum

 

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The heavily advertised programs that you see in music magazines are there because it's a money maker for the publisher. Not because it works.

 

There are degrees of perfect pitch. Some people are born with the ability to identify any pitch they hear correctly.

 

Some people can't tell the difference between pitches.

 

Most of us are in between.

 

You can practice and improve your ability to recognize pitches, but you really are better off practicing relative pitch....the ability to recognize intervals between two notes.

 

If you don't have complete perfect pitch, it's pretty doubtful that you could teach this to yourself.

 

Recent research shows that children who live in countries which have pitched languages (for instance, Chinese) have a higher likelihood of having perfect pitch than children who speak non-pitched languages (English, French, Spanish).

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Ya know, I posted over 200 times on this forum without ever mentioning having perfect pitch - now this is my third time mentioning it within one week. :) I only bring it up if I feel it's relevant and potentially beneficial...

 

With that disclaimer out of the way, I do have it and to be honest, I really can't claim to understand what it is and how it works. However, I do have a pretty good idea what it is not . I've seen these ads in magazines and my general impression is - don't waste your money...

 

The ads I've seen claim to teach perfect pitch by teaching you to hear the "color" of each pitch. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to how the process actually works for me. First off, it implies that there is a type of mental left-brain processing taking place. In reality, there is no conscious mental effort involved in identifying pitches. It is an instant "knowing". It is no more difficult for me to identify a pitch than it is for most people to look at the sky and determine that it's blue. To take this analogy a step further, suppose a person is color blind and a course is developed that teaches them to perceive the light waves reflected from an object, calculate their wavelength and identify the color based on a wavelength-color conversion chart. Is this the same thing as actually being able to "see" color? I don't believe so.

 

Having said that, and I can't stress this strongly enough, I believe that EVERYONE can develop good relative pitch, and this can be just as valuable and maybe even more so than perfect pitch!!! With good relative pitch, not only do you accomplish the objective of being able to identify pitches, but you are also thinking about the relationships of notes to one another, which IMO is the essence of good musicianship. Many of the greatest musicians alive lack perfect pitch, but most possess strong relative pitch.

 

My advice would be to not waste time and money on a gimmick that claims to "teach" what I feel is more of a sixth sense than a learned skill. Instead, develop your natural relative pitch capabilities, where the results are almost guaranteed and the benefits are priceless.

 

Take Care!!

 

Kirk

Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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Originally posted by NUTT:

My high school physics teacher was also a guitar player and told me to memorize A (440 Hz). Never bothered to do it though.

 

He could tune the A string and then the guitar. Always matched with the tuner.

At one point I had the pitch for the low E-string on my guitar memorized and could tune up from there. I developed this ability by memorizing the first note of the riff to "Day Tripper."

 

I'm not quite able to pull this off anymore. Probably due to the fact that I don't play nearly as often as I used to.

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i can pretty much always sing or hear A 220. i was at a workshop learning about tuning/EQing rooms and was able to note the feedback being sounded was about 270- or appx B, and deffinitely impressed the teacher.

 

funny story- i had a chorus teacher who claimed to have perfect pitch, and, well . . .she sort of did. she was able to sing or hear any note EXCEPT it was always a half step down!

 

no joke- we were working on "for the longest time" by billy joel, our version was in D. she would always throw the group off, as when we weren't near a piano, she insisted on using "her" d, which was actually a Db! :D

 

i do have perfect relative pitch though :freak::thu:

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The only people I've met that had perfect pitch were musicians all their lives and most of those I knew were around musicians since they were infants.

 

I've been working out of a book by Ron Gorow called hearing and writing music. I wish I could be me committed to it, but I found that what he says to do helps.

 

If you work on it and sing your notes and really think about it there are pitches I'm sure everyone in this forum will recongize. When a piano tuner came to tune my piano I asked him if he had perfect pitch, he said he did but a better term would be "pitch memory". He remembers the pitches and their names. He said anyone could develop it depending on their needs and dedication. He played a chord and asked me what it was I went with my gut intstinct and said G major 7 and was right.

 

We all can tell what our open strings should sound like, maybe some of us (and I'm point at me) got intimidated when we plugged into a tuner and found a string was out by a few percent.

 

I've gotten better at tuning from "memory" or from relatative pitch, I used to tune the strings sharp abit when I checked back at the tuner, now I'm more likely to get them right on.

 

We can tell if a string gets knocked out of tune, and that degreee of sensativity, and memory of specific tones is what we should work on.

 

I think even before just "working" on it, we have to go into it with the confidence that meaningful progress will be made and that we'll actually-- and not "theoretically" or "potentially"-- benefit from it. I know that when I am working my ear-- and absolute pitch I mean-- and I'm in auditions that I tend to do better or that something happens a few times where I used it and it helped a bit.

 

The benefit isn't at some far off distant time when we have all the pitches and intervals memorized, but much sooner.

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This is a subject regularly brought up in different forums here & opinions/ experience of posters varies. I've never

 

I strongly recommend all check a book called Music, the Mind & Ecstacy by Robert Jouradin. It is an excellent exploration of various musical subjects thoughout history collated with the most recent (at publishing date...c.2001, IIRC) scientific information, not just folklore.

 

Offered therein is that it can never be estblished with certainty whether anyone might learn absolute pitch but that most who claim or think they have it don't; they have very well practiced relative pitch. Tests of those with perfect pitch usually show that it's very dependent on familiarity with instrument timbre (consider how different overtones affect sounds). Those given sounds of different instruments to audit were not universally successful.

There's also a cultural factor, as Jeremy C suggests, although perhaps in a different way (pitched Asian languages also use relative pitches, not absolute...think what it might be like for one whose voice didn't have a certain range or the effect on singers if words could only be expressed with certain definite pitches !).

Familiarity with musics that utilize microtones in those cultures are a more influential factor.

 

Oddly a lot of people---well, some---who seened to satisfy testing for perfect pitch wre not particularly musical in their interests. For example, some were mechanics who depended on their ear to tel them when a motor was operating at the right speed!

 

The general advice to develop your relative pitch is best, especially the idea that singing helps. That really internalizes the tendency as opposed to just trying to recognize an instrument's notes. It's the practical application of music that most of us are concerned with.

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I've got some relative pitch ability. And since my memory for some things is good, I can remember the sound of some songs. Couple that with knowing the notes of the song, and it might be called "sometimes pitch". I can't take my bass up and know whether it's in tune.

 

I played with a keyboard player who had perfect pitch. Any note, any time, any circumstance - he nailed it. If we started jamming, he didn't have to ask what key we were in. The problem was that damn fire station siren in South Hempstead - it was an F#, but flat. You could see it kinda bothered him. Hope to run into you again some day, John Clancy.

 

Tom

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I know someone with perfect pitch. It isn't always a gift. I also agree with those who say it can't be taught - I believe you are born with it.

 

I do believe you can work on it to a point where you can have excellent RELATIVE pitch. Ithink Ihave good relative pitch. I can usually pull an a440 out of my head - probably from 15 years of teaching orchestra. It's the first thing you hear at every rehearsal.

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I met a person at a convention once who claimed to have perfect pitch and could never stand to listen to music because it was always out of tune to him. Left the room when someone played a piano note.

 

I can sympathize partially with that (I don't have perfect pitch) because I notice nearly every time a song is speeded up on the radio and the pitch shifts up slightly. Ditto when I hear a cassette copy that was recorded too fast or played back on a machine that's not speed-constant.

 

But perfect pitch? No, thank you! Then I couldn't listen to Indian ragas. To an extent, I have a problem with some modern groups using "dropped B" tunings if the strings are not quite at the right pitch.

:wave:

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Originally posted by zachg:

funny story- i had a chorus teacher who claimed to have perfect pitch

 

i do have perfect relative pitch though :freak::thu:

I thought Mrs. Gurman was right on....I guess not. ;)

 

Also, I don't think the correct term would be Perfect Relative Pitch. Relative Pitch is just another way of saying that you can identify intervals. And from what I remember from music theory, you're definetly not perfect. :D:P

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I have alright absolute pitch... it's nothing that I practiced. After a while, you get to know the open strings. If you know what those sound like in your head, you can generally figure out the other notes. The "learn this stuff" things just seem like a way to make money off people. Anyone can learn absolute pitch if you spend enough time with your instrument and pay attention to what the notes sound like. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
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Originally posted by jeremy c:

I thought perfect pitch was when you threw a banjo in a dumpster and it landed right on top of an accordian.

You're very close...

 

"Perfect pitch" is when the pitch of a roof is just right so that when you place an accordian at the top, it slides down and smashes on the ground...

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

I think it's a singer I've worked with. :D

 

A witch with a capital B.

Would that be the same gal that planted the big ol' drunken smacker on ya recently??
Reality is like the sun - you can block it out for a time but it ain't goin' away...
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Originally posted by Fred the bass player:

I met a person at a convention once who claimed to have perfect pitch and could never stand to listen to music because it was always out of tune to him. Left the room when someone played a piano note.

 

I can sympathize partially with that (I don't have perfect pitch) because I notice nearly every time a song is speeded up on the radio and the pitch shifts up slightly. Ditto when I hear a cassette copy that was recorded too fast or played back on a machine that's not speed-constant.

 

But perfect pitch? No, thank you! Then I couldn't listen to Indian ragas. To an extent, I have a problem with some modern groups using "dropped B" tunings if the strings are not quite at the right pitch.

:wave:

This quote represents something that I'd call a "phenonemon of exaggeration".

Let me be clear, I don't doubt what Fred says about the statements of others & I certainly don't doubt what he says about his own recognition of speed shifts but I've always though it bit odd that some claiming absolute pitch found it problematic when sounds weren't perfectly in tune with A=440.

 

Though it seems to suggest their hypersensitivity, there's no logic there really.

Sound is a natural phenomenon but the way we measure it is completely a human construct.

There is no natural law of a certain frequency equaling a certain note. That is all culturally determined whether applied to microtonal scales, scales of unequal temperment or note-pitch frequency relationships (which have often changed even in Western tradition).

Complaining that a certain pitch, in & of itself, outside its musical context, is disturbing because it doesn't match an artificial frequency construct is like claiming that a certain shade of blue is "wrong" & hurts one's eyes!

 

I often wonder if those claiming this sensitivity remember that they are basing this on a musical system---equal temperament---that is itself constantly a bit out of tune. Doesn't a modern piano & the instruments tuned to it bother them?

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