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Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2878809
08/12/19 08:46 AM
08/12/19 08:46 AM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie Offline
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Paul, so you don't have perfect pitch. You have "bucket" pitch instead. 😄


Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
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Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chris Leslie] #2878822
08/12/19 09:36 AM
08/12/19 09:36 AM
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David Boyce Offline
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Originally Posted by Chris Leslie
Paul, so you don't have perfect pitch. You have "bucket" pitch instead. 😄


Hah! That illustrates, I think, that part of the problem concerning the term in general usage, is the lack of any agreed definition.

To say "I can identify the fundamental frequency of a musical sound to within 0.1 Hz, within a range of 27.5 Hz to 3520.0 Hz" ties one down to a fairly specific, and testable, meaning. But that isn't, I think, what people generally mean.

Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chris Leslie] #2878827
08/12/19 10:01 AM
08/12/19 10:01 AM
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Montreal
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Originally Posted by Chris Leslie
Paul, so you don't have perfect pitch. You have "bucket" pitch instead. 😄


In all the peer-reviewed studies I read (including the once cited), perfect pitch is the ability to assign the named-note pitch bucket essentially instantly. It's the cognitive ability to assign the name - just as people can instantly assign a name to a colour or a smell. If I have to tune a guitar I can usually get very close to A=440 without any external reference - though it might not be exactly 440 - though this is a different trick compared to naming notes on a piano. FWIW I haven't read any studies that test people who don't use the 12T western scale - that would also be interesting as the buckets are in a different place and might be wider, or narrower, depending on the scale used.

I don't think any of the neuroscience researchers have any problems with the definition of the term since they already measure response time as an indicator (along with accuracy in terms of assigning the right bucket - look at the figures in that paper I cited).

Paul.

Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #2878881
08/12/19 12:30 PM
08/12/19 12:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 154
Washington State
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT

...a very exceptional person (the one in ten thousand they supposedly say "have perfect pitch")

From Wikipedia: "The assumed occurrence of less than 1:10,000 is widely reported, but it is not supported by evidence.[5] However, a review of more recent and international studies indicates prevalence of at least 4% amongst music students.[6]"
Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT

...they all use what they think is special about themselves to draw undue personal attention

I don't dispute that you've encountered somebody like that, but I think it's unfair to paint everybody with that brush.
Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT

...some kind of super power that has no practical use whatsoever

I wouldn't call it a super power, but there are some practical uses:
1. Tune a string instrument when a pitch reference isn't available
2. Easy to play in tune (or at least know when you're out of tune)
3. Dictation and sight-singing are really easy in music theory classes. (Also helps sometimes with identifying songs in music history exams...it usually not So-and-so's symphony in A Major if the song playing isn't in A Major or a closely-related key.)
4. Quickly "chip up" a recently re-strung piano
5. Do a quick muteless pitch raise on a piano that's a whole-step flat, before doing the actual pitch raise and tuning
6. When I'm scheduling an appointment over the phone with somebody who has no idea when their piano was last tuned I'll often ask them to play a few notes on the piano if it's nearby. (They always play white keys.) If the piano is a half-step flat I know to schedule more time for the appointment.
7. Automatically recognize the difference between a 60 Hz hum and feedback in a sound system
8. Use a specific note as an unobtrusive cell phone ringtone. I use this as my ringtone...it plays an A6, which is really easy to pick out of background noise if you're attuned to it. (The downside is that ocassionally I'll be in Walmart or whatever and there's a toy or beeper with the same pitch and I'm constantly reaching for my phone.)

Most of these things could be done without perfect pitch; they're just easier or faster with.

It also has downsides. As I mentioned earlier, I can't play keyboard instruments that have been transposed (harpsichords in historical tuning or organs/electronic pianos with a transpose setting). I struggle playing the bass in "solo" tuning (transposed up a half step). I get annoyed when a choir goes flat, and it distracts from my enjoyment of the music.

Anyway, I think the main thing that prompted this long response was the suggestion that I see it as a "super power" to be flaunted as a party trick. That's not how I see it, and I rarely bring it up. Whenever it comes up in the context of piano tuning I always emphasize that perfect pitch is neither necessary nor helpful in tuning pianos. But at the same time it is useful for other things, and I can't choose not to have it, so I'll do what I can with the tools I've been given.


Anthony Willey, RPT
PianoMeter
Willey Piano Tuning
Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2878900
08/12/19 01:41 PM
08/12/19 01:41 PM
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As I posted earlier Mozart's "perfect" pitch was A4 = 422 Hz. So in this regard IMO the "perfect" word is debatable.

Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Hakki] #2878904
08/12/19 01:48 PM
08/12/19 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
As I posted earlier Mozart's "perfect" pitch was A4 = 422 Hz. So in this regard IMO the "perfect" word is debatable.


No, not at all. You're missing the point. The "perfect" part is being able to apply the note-name label perfectly without any external reference. In those days, A4 corresponded to 422Hz. Someone with modern day perfect pitch would likely call such a pitch G# and would be able to do so virtually instantly without a reference. That's what it's about - it's nothing to do with some magical property of 440Hz - just like calling something red means that it has to be a wavelength of exactly 635nm (or 660nm for that matter).

Paul

Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2878930
08/12/19 04:40 PM
08/12/19 04:40 PM
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Posts: 216
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The misunderstanding over the term ‘perfect’ is part of why I prefer using ‘absolute’. Maybe as the English language has changed culturally we understand the term ‘perfect’ as something strictly relating to quality or that thing being free from errors, as where that’s not what it means in this context.

Relative pitch identifies and makes sense of pitches relative to other ones, and absolute pitch sees pitches as having a unique recognisable character not needing another pitch as reference. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in A440 or in a 12-tone western scale or whatever.

Last edited by jsilva; 08/12/19 04:41 PM.
Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Hakki] #2879273
08/13/19 03:53 PM
08/13/19 03:53 PM
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Posts: 2,046
London
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Originally Posted by Hakki
As I posted earlier Mozart's "perfect" pitch was A4 = 422 Hz. So in this regard IMO the "perfect" word is debatable.

This sounds interesting, but I do not understand this statement. I would be grateful if you could clarify:

1. What do you mean by Mozart's "perfect" pitch? Do you mean his preferred pitch - or the best pitch for playing his music - or do you mean that he had perfect pitch and this was it - or what?

2. Can you give a source reference for the figure 422 in this context?

Thanks.


Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: David-G] #2879290
08/13/19 04:35 PM
08/13/19 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Hakki
As I posted earlier Mozart's "perfect" pitch was A4 = 422 Hz. So in this regard IMO the "perfect" word is debatable.

This sounds interesting, but I do not understand this statement. I would be grateful if you could clarify:

1. What do you mean by Mozart's "perfect" pitch? Do you mean his preferred pitch - or the best pitch for playing his music - or do you mean that he had perfect pitch and this was it - or what?

2. Can you give a source reference for the figure 422 in this context?

Thanks.




Without Googling it, my recollection is that Mozart had perfect pitch, meaning he could name any note played. This was demonstrated by covering the keyboard with a handkerchief and playing various notes.

There is a famous story about how Mozart wrote out a piece of music he had seen in the Vatican library, from memory, after seeing it only once. The Vatican would not let the manuscript leave the library but that did not matter to Mozart.


Yamaha U1 Silent Piano
Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: David-G] #2879292
08/13/19 04:46 PM
08/13/19 04:46 PM
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Hakki Offline
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In Mozart's time standard for A4 was 422 Hz.
There were other standards set until 20th century.
A440 was set as standard early 20th century.

Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2879298
08/13/19 05:01 PM
08/13/19 05:01 PM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,388
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
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New Hampshire
If the story about Mozart is true, that would suggest that he had a nearly "photographic" memory. I stated earlier that it seemed plausible that "memory" and AP are somehow related. I do not know.

Anthony,

Thanks for detailing both some practical benefits as well as some bummerfits of having AP. I wondered about that. You answered it.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Question on perfect pitch [Re: David-G] #2879464
08/14/19 06:56 AM
08/14/19 06:56 AM
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Hakki Offline
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