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Can i learn the perfect pitch #2743679
06/11/18 05:04 PM
06/11/18 05:04 PM
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pianoten Offline OP
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hi

i wondered if it is possible to learn perfect pitch. I read a lot that it is just genetic but i don't think many people tried hard enough. I mean i play piano for 10-15 years and i am far away from being a perfect pianist and i just think no one has really tried to learn it everyday for several years. So could you learn it with patience?

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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743680
06/11/18 05:06 PM
06/11/18 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoten
So could you learn it with patience?


No.


Whizbang [Linked Image]
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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: Whizbang] #2743684
06/11/18 05:45 PM
06/11/18 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Whizbang
Originally Posted by pianoten
So could you learn it with patience?


No.

But with strategy, perhaps yes. But it is not terribly useful, especially not for piano.

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743699
06/11/18 06:19 PM
06/11/18 06:19 PM
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Zilthy Offline
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You can. Is it useful? Not really. Relative pitch is much more useful. And that can be learned as well, and a much better place to spend one's time.

Last edited by Zilthy; 06/11/18 06:20 PM.
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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743703
06/11/18 06:27 PM
06/11/18 06:27 PM
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bennevis Online content
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True perfect pitch cannot be learnt.

Those with absolute pitch may train their relative pitch, but there are no reported cases of an adult obtaining absolute pitch ability through musical training; adults who possess relative pitch but do not already have absolute pitch can learn "pseudo-absolute pitch" and become able to identify notes in a way that superficially resembles absolute pitch. Moreover, training pseudo-absolute pitch requires considerable motivation, time, and effort, and learning is not retained without constant practice and reinforcement.

If someone claims to have learnt perfect pitch and wasn't born with it, test him by asking him to sing/whistle/hum F#.

If he has perfect pitch, he can sing/whistle/hum it immediately without 'thinking'. If he has to think first (i.e. he's 'singing' a known song in his head and using his relative pitch to find F#), he doesn't have perfect pitch.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: Zilthy] #2743704
06/11/18 06:28 PM
06/11/18 06:28 PM
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Indonesia
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Faiz Online content
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It maybe useful for transcribing music I guess...
Any idea other use of perfect pitch on piano?


Let's help each other... laugh
Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743706
06/11/18 06:45 PM
06/11/18 06:45 PM
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There are a dozen methods claiming to develop the absolute pitch.

The most complete research database about the absolute pitch is this:
http://www.aruffo.com/eartraining/research/phase11.htm
http://www.aruffo.com/eartraining/research/phase11b.htm

There are many links there, you can find there everything you need.

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: bennevis] #2743710
06/11/18 06:52 PM
06/11/18 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
If someone claims to have learnt perfect pitch and wasn't born with it, test him by asking him to sing/whistle/hum F#.
.

Helen Keller recognized water as water before she knew there was such a thing as water. Let's define what we're talking about.

Relative pitch is like knowing "the thing beside the other thing" by knowing its position. "Perfect pitch" (which should have a different name) means recognizing the thing itself, as itself. That is not necessarily related to a name - but people test it in others through a name, since that's what they know to do. This is a problem in itself, since there are different tunings: to A = 440, or 438, or 445. But a pitch is a pitch is a pitch regardless of name.

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743722
06/11/18 07:27 PM
06/11/18 07:27 PM
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Here's an interesting youtube video about it from Rick Beato. He taught his son perfect pitch, however another of his children doesn't have it. He makes some good arguments why it can only learned in young childhood.

Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch - Rick Beato

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743732
06/11/18 07:51 PM
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FWIW, from my own painful experience as a young adult, I once tried to learn perfect pitch by using my sense of relative pitch and a key I was most familiar with - E flat (Beethoven's Emperor & Eroica - I was addicted to Luddy then). I kept 'singing' E flat in my head for all my waking hours whenever possible - but the pitch wavered somewhat through the day, and I lost it totally by the next morning. (I kept checking with a pitch pipe I carried everywhere with me).

After a few months, there was still hardly any improvement. I'd instantly recognize E flat only in context (from a piece of music I'd heard before) - but hearing the note in isolation (like the pinging of a wine glass, or someone blowing into a harmonica) never struck instant recognition. And I still never managed to retain my memory of that note after a night's sleep. My E flat would have turned into D flat or even C or B flat.....

Six months later, I gave up cry.

I had a friend who had perfect pitch for as long as he could remember, but not very good relative pitch. He'd taught himself to play a guitar, and could always tune it perfectly without using any aids. He'd hear a doorbell or a watch alarm, and tell me instantly which notes they made, and whether they were slightly flat or sharp, or in between. (He was used to A=440). But if I asked him to sing the major 6th of a note I played to him, say E flat, he'd have to work out what note that was, before he could sing it, whereas if I heard E flat, I could sing the major 6th (C) instantly, without having to know what the note was.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: bennevis] #2743782
06/12/18 01:37 AM
06/12/18 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis


If someone claims to have learnt perfect pitch and wasn't born with it, test him by asking him to sing/whistle/hum F#.

If he has perfect pitch, he can sing/whistle/hum it immediately without 'thinking'. If he has to think first (i.e. he's 'singing' a known song in his head and using his relative pitch to find F#), he doesn't have perfect pitch.

I'm pretty sure you won't answer this because you seem to never answer anything I write, even if it is highly complimentary about something you said, but this time you are dead wrong, so maybe someone else will take note.

Your idea is this is something you either "have" or you do "not have". My pitch sense is wobbly, and always has been. It's not accurate to an exact pitch, but it's accurate to around a 1/2 step in each direction, and probably a bit less. That means that if you ask me for an F#, you will get an F, F# or G, which is not exactly perfect. But it will never be an E or an Ab. It will usually be even closer to F#. If I come up with F or G, too high or too low, it will probably be closer than that to F#, on either side. On a good day I'll nail it, which may just be luck.

I was tested for this when I was in high school and showed zero sign of any kind of pitch recognition. I made no attempt to develop it.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743791
06/12/18 02:09 AM
06/12/18 02:09 AM
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If you want to be very strict with the definition, then either you have perfect pitch or you don't. However, I've seen a big range among my students, including:

** Kids who can hear four pitches at once

** Kids who can hear only one pitch at a time, and a second pitch will immediately throw their pitch sense off

** Kids who can name white keys only, and can't tell the black keys apart

** Kids who appear to have perfect pitch one week, and then the next week they are completely off

So I suspect there's another thing lurking in their brains--pitch memory.

It's like some a capella singer who needs a pitch from the piano (the starting pitch) before starting to sing. The singer can "remember" the sound in his/her short-term memory, but who knows how long this pitch memory can last?? A minute? An hour? A day?

Or in the case of perfect pitch folks like me, forever?


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743801
06/12/18 03:11 AM
06/12/18 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis


If someone claims to have learnt perfect pitch and wasn't born with it, test him by asking him to sing/whistle/hum F#.

If he has perfect pitch, he can sing/whistle/hum it immediately without 'thinking'. If he has to think first (i.e. he's 'singing' a known song in his head and using his relative pitch to find F#), he doesn't have perfect pitch.

I'm pretty sure you won't answer this because you seem to never answer anything I write, even if it is highly complimentary about something you said, but this time you are dead wrong, so maybe someone else will take note.

Your idea is this is something you either "have" or you do "not have". My pitch sense is wobbly, and always has been. It's not accurate to an exact pitch, but it's accurate to around a 1/2 step in each direction, and probably a bit less. That means that if you ask me for an F#, you will get an F, F# or G, which is not exactly perfect. But it will never be an E or an Ab. It will usually be even closer to F#. If I come up with F or G, too high or too low, it will probably be closer than that to F#, on either side. On a good day I'll nail it, which may just be luck.

I was tested for this when I was in high school and showed zero sign of any kind of pitch recognition. I made no attempt to develop it.

The question was whether AP can be learned as an adult. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that it cannot (anecdotes are not scientific evidence). The Wikipedia article discusses some of that but essentially:

no adult has ever been documented to have acquired absolute listening ability,[69] because all adults who have been formally tested after AP training have failed to demonstrate "an unqualified level of accuracy... comparable to that of AP possessors".[70]

Your anecdote about being "close" is interesting but I think it may be related to the Levitin effect:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levitin_effect


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743802
06/12/18 03:20 AM
06/12/18 03:20 AM
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Well I started piano at the age of 7 - in 1949 - and everyone soon found that I had absolute pitch. To 'develop' it, or whatever, my father used to play all sorts of discordant chords on the piano and I had to name the individual notes. Not a good idea as I developed the habit of listening to notes rather than chords. I didn't consciously realise that chords had their own sounds until maybe 10 years later!

A further disadvantage came in the 90's when I got back into playing the piano after a longish break. Big arguments with the piano tuner and a long period of wondering what had happened to my ears. Tuning had changed up to A = 440 whereas when I was young it was A=423. My music teacher always used to say we tune up to concert pitch when we play in an orchestra as the strings soon go flat - cold halls.

Had to get a digital and transpose down a semitone in order to get back into playing. Took me 6 months before I could take the leap and play at concert pitch.

I think the only time I found it 'useful' was when tuning my violin away from the piano.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: Gary D.] #2743819
06/12/18 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by bennevis


If someone claims to have learnt perfect pitch and wasn't born with it, test him by asking him to sing/whistle/hum F#.

If he has perfect pitch, he can sing/whistle/hum it immediately without 'thinking'. If he has to think first (i.e. he's 'singing' a known song in his head and using his relative pitch to find F#), he doesn't have perfect pitch.

I'm pretty sure you won't answer this because you seem to never answer anything I write, even if it is highly complimentary about something you said, but this time you are dead wrong, so maybe someone else will take note.

Your idea is this is something you either "have" or you do "not have". My pitch sense is wobbly, and always has been. It's not accurate to an exact pitch, but it's accurate to around a 1/2 step in each direction, and probably a bit less. That means that if you ask me for an F#, you will get an F, F# or G, which is not exactly perfect. But it will never be an E or an Ab. It will usually be even closer to F#. If I come up with F or G, too high or too low, it will probably be closer than that to F#, on either side. On a good day I'll nail it, which may just be luck.

I was tested for this when I was in high school and showed zero sign of any kind of pitch recognition. I made no attempt to develop it.

I agree with Qazsedcft that you don't really have perfect pitch, and probably developed good pitch recognition from playing brass instruments at a high level, where you have to listen intently to your pitch. I have a violinist friend who has similar skills, but his A could be A flat or A sharp, sometimes even B, so he could never rely on his 'sense of pitch' for tuning his instrument to play with others. He also never tried to develop his pitch recognition skills.

Unlike those with real perfect pitch, he cannot reliably tell me instantly what the pitch of a note is if I sing out a random note, and finds it especially difficult if below the range of the violin.

BTW, thanks for your past compliments grin.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743849
06/12/18 09:42 AM
06/12/18 09:42 AM
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Before going anywhere, I am going to define what I will talk about. Imagine for a moment something else: fruits. You have lined up in front of you:

apple apple orange banana apple pear

For some reason in this universe, the fruits are always lined up in this way. Everybody here will instantly recognize the banana, even if you don't know the word "banana". It has a distinct shape, and when eaten, has its own texture. In this universe, you "know" bananas in the way we all do. You like bananas, and if you see one anywhere, you'll make a beeline for it.

Supposing that you speak another language, and the fruit is called "kweeko". If someone asks you to point out a "banana", you can't do it, since you don't know this name. Or maybe you did not acquire language. It would be absurd to conclude that you cannot recognize it as a distinct fruit - as you do - simply because you don't associate a name with it. But when "pitch recognition" is discussed, it is always together with "names" (F#, etc.) One obvious reason is that it's an easy way to test things; through names. But there is a major flaw in this.

Going back to our

apple apple orange banana apple pear

on this planet, where fruits are always lined up like this, people cannot readily recognize bananas. They just recognize "fruits", and it's one in the line-up. They may learn that "banana" always comes between "orange" and "apple", so if the previous fruit was named "orange", they know this must be "banana". Or they have memorized that "banana" is the 4th fruit from the beginning. That would be our relative pitch.

* * *
I propose two aspects:
- identifying a note via its placement among other notes that give us a reference point (the fruit after oranges, 4th in the row ---- 4th degree after the Tonic or Fa; I'm going to sing this note a semitone higher than the last)
- recognizing a pitch, being able to duplicate a pitch, in and of itself (the shape and flavour of a banana).

Either of these can happen without name. Or, there is an element to these which is nameless. If you sing a familiar song and you get to "Ti Do" in any key, you will climb up a semitone to the Tonic with no thought or knowledge of note names or any name.

-------
It happened to me that I was given some training for something else, and I got a side-effect. If I heard a pitch, I could go to the piano, and my hand would press the piano key which unerringly was the pitch I had just heard. In fact, I could go to my descant recorder, or alto recorder which is an F instrument, and do the same thing. I was outside the world of relative pitch.

In that world, if you asked me "Play F#", I'd not be able to do it. But if you had me hear a pitch, I'd play that pitch, look down at the piano key, and tell you "That is F#". Had I wanted to get the ability to go by name, I could probably have developed this, using that new ability as a hook. I didn't develop the naming part. But I did accidentally develop the ability to get at pitch "as it is", like that banana.

(I hope this makes some sense).

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743853
06/12/18 09:56 AM
06/12/18 09:56 AM
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One instant problem with "named pitches" for what is called "perfect pitch" -- i.e. recognizing a pitch for itself (the banana as a banana) - is tuning. If you are asked "sing F#", the assumption is, "Sing F# to a tuning of A = 440".

Is it even useful? It seems to me that music is constructed "relatively". You must be able to go up a whole tone, or leap an octave, or jump to the leading note, dance above the Tonic and then land on the Tonic (typical Bach ending). You recognize qualities of chords; you recognize when intervals clash in a way that tell you that this must surely be wrong, what you just played. If I have absolute pitch, and thing my two notes are C#, D, and accurately play those two notes, it is relative pitch - or awareness of qualities of intervals - that will warn me that I'm way off. Oth, if I compose and want to create a sense of unease then I'll use that, and should also hear it.

I was in a blended choir, where the other choir joined ours, and their choirmaster stood right behind me blasting into my ear. She had "perfect pitch" and acted as a human pitch pipe when leading her group's warmups. It happened that the piano was more than a quarter tone below 440. Our altos drifted a bit below that. The sopranos somehow tuned to the altos and the piano, and so the music actually sounded quite harmonious. All except for this perfect pitch lady heartily singing everything tuned to 440 - which was out of tune to everything around her, but in tune with what the piano should have been tuned to --- but wasn't.

Those with extreme PP will also get in trouble in other ways. If they are used to hearing a piece of music in a given key, and it is played in another key, they can get lost. If a recording is supposed to be in Db major, but the recording devices or playback devices bring it all up to D major .... the relative pitch person will blithely carry on. The totally PP person will be crawling out of his skin, and can be quite disoriented.

So why aim for this, esp. with a pre-tuned instrument like the piano?

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: Qazsedcft] #2743876
06/12/18 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


Your anecdote about being "close" is interesting but I think it may be related to the Levitin effect:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levitin_effect

That's interesting, but I'm talking about something else.

I taught brass for many years. Most instruments are "Bb instruments", which means these instruments play most easily and most comfortably in Bb. Bb is the tunning note.

But my instrument, euphonium, is written in concert pitch, also true of trombone.

However, euphonium is weird because it appeared on the scene long after other instruments. Parts are written in both bass and treble. When in treble it transposes, like Bb trumpet.

Trumpet, on the other hand, historically transposes to any key. In the old days valveless trumpets could be in any key corresponding to the 12 keys we know today. Crooks were added to change the pitch. Parts were ALWAYS transposed so the main tuning note was written as C. Anyone playing such instruments has to have relatives pitch, and anything approaching perfect pitch is the kiss of death.

I was incapable of playing any brass instrument not in Bb. For instance, C trumpet is "off" a full step from Bb trumpet. I can't play it. My pitch sense fights with what is on the page.

The whole subject of pitch and how we hear is complicated.

I also play by ear. If I transpose a midi keyboard a whole step, either direction, I can no longer play anything that is not written.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: keystring] #2743877
06/12/18 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring

I was in a blended choir, where the other choir joined ours, and their choirmaster stood right behind me blasting into my ear. She had "perfect pitch" and acted as a human pitch pipe when leading her group's warmups. It happened that the piano was more than a quarter tone below 440. Our altos drifted a bit below that. The sopranos somehow tuned to the altos and the piano, and so the music actually sounded quite harmonious. All except for this perfect pitch lady heartily singing everything tuned to 440 - which was out of tune to everything around her, but in tune with what the piano should have been tuned to --- but wasn't.

Imagine for the moment that JS Bach had perfect pitch. He would have been screwed up most of the time, since there was no pitch standard.

Relative pitch is what we want. Even the degree of pitch recognition I have usually gets in my way.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: keystring] #2743879
06/12/18 12:02 PM
06/12/18 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring

It happened to me that I was given some training for something else, and I got a side-effect. If I heard a pitch, I could go to the piano, and my hand would press the piano key which unerringly was the pitch I had just heard. In fact, I could go to my descant recorder, or alto recorder which is an F instrument, and do the same thing. I was outside the world of relative pitch.

In that world, if you asked me "Play F#", I'd not be able to do it. But if you had me hear a pitch, I'd play that pitch, look down at the piano key, and tell you "That is F#". Had I wanted to get the ability to go by name, I could probably have developed this, using that new ability as a hook. I didn't develop the naming part. But I did accidentally develop the ability to get at pitch "as it is", like that banana.

I don't think that is outside of normal relative pitch ability. People who can sing in tune can accurately imitate any given pitch, which is just like playing it on an instrument (in this case your own voice). But people with AP can produce any pitch without reference.

I think a better analogy than the fruits one you offered is to take colors. Most normal people can distinguish all colors without any reference to other colors. When you are asked to imagine the color pink you can get there immediately without having to compare it to another color as "a slightly lighter shade of red". The naming is irrelevant here as this color has many different names in different languages. It's the fact of being able to immediately visualize the color in your mind without prior reference that is important.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: Qazsedcft] #2743881
06/12/18 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
But people with AP can produce any pitch without reference.

You mean that they can produce any named pitch. We're stuck on names again. And those named pitches are also tied in with tuning. If an instrument is tuned to A = 435 or 430, then playing "F#' will be incorrect, because that name no longer corresponds to that pitch.

I don't care about"people with 'AP ' " ..... I am trying to get at something practical and fundamental. There are two fundamental concepts. Recognizing a pitch for itself: finding a pitch in relationship to something else. I deliberately avoided the name "AP", and I introduced that fact in the very beginning.

I do have a family member who has an extreme ability in what is called "AP" and we have talked about this often, so I'm aware of what that entails. It has often been a handicap of sorts, getting in the way. It is not something that I am motivated to acquire, and so have not tried.

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: keystring] #2743883
06/12/18 12:23 PM
06/12/18 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
But people with AP can produce any pitch without reference.

You mean that they can produce any named pitch. We're stuck on names again. And those named pitches are also tied in with tuning. If an instrument is tuned to A = 435 or 430, then playing "F#' will be incorrect, because that name no longer corresponds to that pitch.

Perfect pitch is not dependent on nomenclature in any language. You can name each note with a term of one's own devising, or a color (as in synesthesia?).

I heard an interview on BBC Radio 3 once with a violinist who had perfect pitch, and learnt the names of the notes in the standard A=440 (as used in the UK but not some other European countries).

Then she 'saw the light' and decided to start playing on period instruments. And hit a stumbling block - she saw C on the score but what she heard around her was closer to B. And HIP pitches also varied from band to band (then, in the early days), and like many instrumentalists, she was a freelancer, playing with the Academy of Ancient Music one day and then with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment the next, and the London Classical Players after that. It did her head in.

Until she made a concerted effort to rid herself of her perfect pitch - and she succeeded, though it took her some time. I hadn't known that was possible, but apparently it is. These days, she happily switches between period instruments for performances and (predominantly) modern instruments for teaching.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743894
06/12/18 01:21 PM
06/12/18 01:21 PM
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There are some tests of people with the real AP ability who demonstrate on first hearing a note, and without a prior reference tone, they can tell if the tone is even a few Hz off from the standard, either sharp or flat. This is roughly equivalent to being able to name audio frequency when they are played. I think this is a very demanding test of the real AP ability and I know that there are some young children who come equipped with this rather strange ability, which probably requires some special brain wiring. Tests like this are even more demanding than being able to tune your instrument without a reference tone, since for that, you only have to be able to internalize one reference frequency as Bennevis has mentioned above.

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 06/12/18 01:22 PM.

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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: bennevis] #2743896
06/12/18 01:30 PM
06/12/18 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Perfect pitch is not dependent on nomenclature in any language. You can name each note with a term of one's own devising, or a color (as in synesthesia?).

That is correct. However, when people test for it, they use names, and that is the problem.

Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: pianoten] #2743974
06/12/18 07:47 PM
06/12/18 07:47 PM
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I would propose a model for human pitchness. Imagine perfect pitch is not an on / off switch but a number along a number line from 0 to 999, where more people lands between 450 to 550 than other places on the line. If you were born above 900, you have perfect pitch. If you were born at 999, you hear pitch in everything including the pitch of people walking or flipping of paper.

I'm guess some people have more talent than others when trained because they happen to be born around 700-800 and can trained themselves to eventually reach the same result of someone born at 900. However, for most people training however much would only move 100-200 point up the line, so if you were born around 450, you never reach perfect pitch no matter how hard you try.

That's how I look at it. But I suspect using a two dimensional line is not really accurate as biological systems are often 3 or 4 dimensional, but using easy concept like a single number like 587 on the continuous line of pitchness makes it easy for me to understand. The real thing may be better described by multi-dimensional attributes like [587, 301, 242] for one individual. If things like this could be measured, it'd leading to almost infinite different individuals.


Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: 8 Octaves] #2743995
06/12/18 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 8 Octaves
But I suspect using a two dimensional line is not really accurate as biological systems are often 3 or 4 dimensional, but using easy concept like a single number like 587 on the continuous line of pitchness makes it easy for me to understand. The real thing may be better described by multi-dimensional attributes like [587, 301, 242] for one individual. If things like this could be measured, it'd leading to almost infinite different individuals.

Studies have shown AP is highly correlated with and may be related to tone-color synesthesia, so that would seem to support the multi-dimensional hypothesis.


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Re: Can i learn the perfect pitch [Re: bennevis] #2744028
06/13/18 01:20 AM
06/13/18 01:20 AM
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by bennevis

I agree with Qazsedcft that you don't really have perfect pitch, and probably developed good pitch recognition from playing brass instruments at a high level, where you have to listen intently to your pitch. I have a violinist friend who has similar skills, but his A could be A flat or A sharp, sometimes even B, so he could never rely on his 'sense of pitch' for tuning his instrument to play with others. He also never tried to develop his pitch recognition skills.

I partially agree with you, but there is something else. Apparently I always heard things correctly, meaning that for me if I think if a symphony, concerto or other music it's right. I can't explain it any other way.

There person who "tested" me was an idiot. I never had any theory. Never any sightsinging. Never sang at all. It never occurred to me that this could be tested. I did not improvise. Very weak teaching.

I had played a few years when I started playing tuba in 7th grade. I switched to euphonium/baritone three years later. In high school I wanted to try French horn, so my director gave me an F horn to fool around with. I could not play it. I did not understand how it worked. Bb instruments are like this: Bb F Bb etc. are played open. If you have a strong link to pitch, it's more than knowing that you have to finger a written Bb open. When you hear it, that's the fingering you grab. If you are playing by ear, that's the fingering you choose to match a pitch you hear.

Modern horn players mostly use the same fingerings I use, because they mostly play Bb horn. But because of history, because F horn USED to be the most common choice, music is still transposed a 5th or 4th, depending which way you think. This has produced the schizo system where the same exact part, using the same exact fingering, is written in three different keys. So even though a concert Bb scale is exactly the same fingering and pitches on tuba, euphonium, horn and trumpet, differing only in octaves, the bass clef instruments are written in Bb, trumpet is written in C, and horn is written in F.

I found out years later that I can pick up a Bb horn and just play it. Why not? The pitches are the same. Also trumpet. But I can't play a C trumpet to save my life. I think of pitch, and I blow that pitch. It won't play. By the time I figure out what stupid fingering is going to work on that C trumpet, it's too late. I look at the music, hear all the pitches perfectly, but I reflexively reach for the fingering that "belongs" with the pitch.

I'm hyper-aware of this because it is crippling.

When I was young my pitch sense was incredibly narrow. If you handed me a guitar, I'd tune it very close to perfectly in concert pitch without a reference pitch. That pitch was rock solid until somewhere over the age of 60. My pitch sense is more wobbly. My relative pitch is, if anything, even sharper.

I don't say I have absolute pitch. I say I have "imperfect pitch". But it's a royal pain in the butt. I give me NOTHING I can use, and it gets in my way.

So I agree that we are not talking about an A/B thing but rather degrees of connection. Whatever it is I have - I won't quibble about the name - I can't turn it off. But because it is not sensitive to a few cents, and never has been, it's not a problem for tuning to concert pitch.

I'm glad it's wobbly. And I think being super-sensitive to A having to be 440, or anything fixed, is a horrible curse. I can't imagine JS Bach navigating musically with that kind of limitation.
Quote

Unlike those with real perfect pitch, he cannot reliably tell me instantly what the pitch of a note is if I sing out a random note, and finds it especially difficult if below the range of the violin.

I could, and I hear in pitches. They may be wobbly, but if someone "passes gas", I know instantly to within a 1/2 step what I'm hearing. Doorbells, phones, random pitches. I know what they are. Also, pitches for me are white or black. I associate everything with piano keys, including notes I play in brass. Tuning note Bb is black. Not synesthesia. I just see piano keys when I hear sounds. wink

Last edited by Gary D.; 06/13/18 01:21 AM.

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