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Posted By: 081273Piano Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 03:21 AM
Hi Guys!! I am here today to ask about perfect/absolute pitch. What are your veiws and opinions about this amazing ability? Do you think it can be learned? If so how? Just wanted to know peoples opinions about this phenomenon. smile

Donovan
Posted By: RonaldSteinway Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 03:28 AM
http://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/

The above link may answer your question. Have fun reading!
Posted By: cjp_piano Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 03:54 PM
I think it can be learned. It think we are all born the ability to be that sensitive to the frequencies.

Haven't you ever wondered why alot of Chinese have perfect pitch? Is it a coincidence that their language is very pitch oriented and as they learn to speak at a very young age, they learn to copy the exact pitches and inflections of the sounds?
Posted By: BruceD Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 05:47 PM
Quote
Originally posted by cjp_piano:
I think it can be learned. It think we are all born the ability to be that sensitive to the frequencies.

Haven't you ever wondered why alot of Chinese have perfect pitch? Is it a coincidence that their language is very pitch oriented and as they learn to speak at a very young age, they learn to copy the exact pitches and inflections of the sounds?
Is there any proof that the incidence of absolute (perfect) pitch is higher among Chinese than among other nationals?

While I know that Chinese is a "pitch" language, is the pitch element of spoken Chinese absolute or relative? If it were absolute, I would think that that would lead to uncountable instances of misunderstanding or miscommunication for those who don't have "absolute (perfect) pitch."

Regards,
Posted By: L'echange Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 06:23 PM
Pitch is not a concrete thing. so I don't know how anyone could have 'perfect' pitch.

Oh! That street light sound is a c# about .2 cents flat?... no way
Posted By: 8ude Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 06:31 PM
Looks like another installment in the endless debate over perfect pitch or not... :rolleyes:

L'echange, how is pitch not concrete? A tone produced at a certain frequency will have a certain sound. We may choose to call that tone something (i.e. 440 cps we choose to call "A"), but whatever it's called, it will have its own distinct sound.

For what its worth, I was helping our guitarist tune up before a church ceremony and he asked if he was in tune when he played one of his strings (in isolation - I didn't play a piano key). I told him it was very, very slightly flat. He then brought out his electronic tuner and that told him he was 1 cent flat. This has happened with me on a few occasions, so yes, it can be done. I don't know if I could go down to tenths of a cent accuracy, but down to a cent or two I seem to be pretty good...

I also always play a game with myself when I am listening to the radio. When they announce a piece that I know - I'll hum the opening note before it's played to see if I'm on. My accuracy rate at this is pretty darn good. Perfect pitch does exist...
Posted By: L'echange Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 06:49 PM
So concrete wasn't the right terminology, but you know what I mean. There are 100 cents in each semi-tone. There are many pitches in A, many in C, and so forth. Pitch is perceived frequency. So when people say they have perfect pitch does that only refer to the A 440 (442 whatever) equal (as equal as we can get) temperament. If so

1) How can you take a sound that is not tuned in an A440 equal temperament and give it a 'name' unless you say, "While that sound is not a thing like A440, it is closest to an A440 and I guess about 10 cents off".

2) Why would it even matter? Let the tuners deal with the change smile

Sound (or frequency rather) is not confined to the modern western scale/temperament. A1 to C8 on a piano in any temperament is a small snipet of what frequency really is.
Posted By: CherryCoke Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 07:29 PM
Quote
Originally posted by L'echange:


1) How can you take a sound that is not tuned in an A440 equal temperament and give it a 'name' unless you say, "While that sound is not a thing like A440, it is closest to an A440 and I guess about 10 cents off".

I don't understand what your confusion is about this. While I lack it myself, I am often around perfect-pitch people who can immediately tell you that the air conditioner is blowing at a tone just under C#, or that a printer is scanning a pitch that lays pretty much a quarter tone between B and B flat. Of course it can be applied to music as well. smile It's pretty much what 8ude already described.
Posted By: swingal Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 07:55 PM
I have mentioned this subject before. I do not know if I have any pitch ability. But I play the correct notes (usually!) to represent the 'song'I have in mind or play-along to someone else's rendition. I have no other way to play the piano as I was never taught, except by my mother some 70 years ago as she played that way too.

It means you can play a song based on knowing the piece and knowing what keys give the sound you want. It gets better with plenty of practice.

And doesn't Piano Magic teach this method?

If you surf these stored postings on the subject you may find some further answers to the pitch factor. By the way, I can still play to the correct notes on 'out of tune' honky tonk pianos, though I prefer not to.!

Alan (swingal)
Posted By: Emmery Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 08:03 PM
Although this may be just semantics the word "near" should be used with the word perfect. Even my ETD has a resolution of about .1 cents so its not perfect. Also some people can call a certain note like A440 as being slightly sharp or flat but if you played a C above or below it..they wouldn't have a clue if it was sharp or flat. I have what I call coloring ability. I can identify any note played on the piano (without looking)from the top of the first octave to the bottom of the highest octave if the piano is tuned to A440. Each key has a "color"' that distinguishes it from another and no other key has that color. I don't think this is what the term perfect pitch implies to most however. BTW I developed this ability to do this unknowingly. One day I just heard sound differently...rather than shades of black and white...with color.
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 08:05 PM
Swingal, you probably have relative pitch, which is the kind that is useful for piano. That's how we recognize melody as well as chords.

I still don't understand how perfect pitch, which is the recognition and/or ability to create particular pitches of a given frequency, is useful for playing the piano.

If you do have the ability to hear pitch accurately, then equal temperament makes pianos sound out of tune, and it is unpleasant to hear.
Posted By: Bob Newbie Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 08:33 PM
In solo playing it shouldn't..but when a vocalist enters the picture it changes things..all instruments can be in "tune" with itself..some guitarists like to tune down a half step..then fret up(capo/barre)I mentioned this before about CDs..the CD recording speed is not accurate..I've noticed it falls in between half steps if the song is in(ex) D.. it sounds "off"
its somewhere "between" D and Db..the pitch of CDs are not true..they tend to be faster..
Posted By: cjp_piano Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 09:11 PM
Bruce D -

I'm not sure about actual proof that more Chinese have absolute pitch than other cultures, but I was just asking if anyone else noticed that it seemed to be true.

And YES, there have been studies that show that Chinese is more absolute than relative. They recorded hundreds of Chinese people speaking the same phrases and the actual pitches of the words and phrases were exactly the same, not just the inflection. But don't ask me to give you a source =)

I just remember thinking that it was interesting when I read it several years ago
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 09:20 PM
Does anyone have a reason for pitch recognition (not relative) having a role in piano playing, and if so, what that might be?
Posted By: Mankeh Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 09:58 PM
Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
Does anyone have a reason for pitch recognition (not relative) having a role in piano playing, and if so, what that might be?
Well, I don't believe it really helps piano playing for classically trained musicians, though for play-by-ear people it would help.

It should also be mentioned Mozart had perfect pitch, I think if you're born with perfect pitch it's a very good head start on composition, it normally means you have a good musical mind, but at the end of the day, I can sing D at any time and it doesn't help me what so ever.
Posted By: Opus_Maximus Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 10:17 PM
I'm not sure if language has something to do with it or not...but it just occured to me that I don't know a single Taiwanese pianist who DOESN'T have it!
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 10:36 PM
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Well, I don't believe it really helps piano playing for classically trained musicians, though for play-by-ear people it would help.

But wouldn't that be relative pitch? Perfect pitch is when you can produce a clean A# from nowhere, or you hear it and say "aha, that's A#, though a rather flat one".
Posted By: nitekatt2008z Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 10:39 PM
Hi. Here is a link, http://www.perfectpitchpeople.com/
Perhaps someone else here posted the link. There are some perfect pitch courses on the web also.

Jazz great and the late Oscar Peterson had perfect pitch. I have had at least 2-3 piano students that possessed this talent and I use to test them to see if they were guessing naming the intervals, chords and dissonance. They were never wrong, no guessing at all. I had a piano teacher that had perfect pitch and she could go out without rehearsing or knowing a singer before a gig and accompany them with tunes and arrangements in their key.

Can perfect/absolute pitch be learned? Yes, probably with enough hard work, anything could almost be possible. And of course there are many fine musicians who don't necessarily have perfect pitch but they have developed there ear with good relative pitch. And also, there are non-musicians that have perfect pitch but don't play an instrument.

katt
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/27/08 11:07 PM
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intervals, chords and dissonance
These are all intervals meaning relative pitch. I've had relative pitch all my life, and it is the best to have for the piano. It is also what you use for playing by ear.

Perfect pitch means that you can say that this interval is A C# as well as a major third, possibly followed by "Your piano is out of tune." wink
Posted By: ProdigalPianist Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 12:44 AM
My college strings teacher had perfect pitch and was convinced it could be learned. When she heard recordings she could instantly tell whether the orchestra was from Europe and which was from the US (that...what is it? A 440 vs A 442 thing)

In fact she returned a vinyl lp once because something in the recording/mastering/pressing process messed up and an entire movement was a step off. Drove her crazy, she couldn't stand to listen to it. The guy at the record store thought she was a little nuts though when she insisted something was wrong.

One of my friends in college was a singer with perfect pitch and just could not read from a transposed copy (ie-the music she was reading off had to match the key the piano was playing) or play a transposing instrument...if what she was seeing did not match what she was hearing she could not handle it. Handy for a cappella works though!

I have pretty good relative pitch (i can sing a capella on key), when I was working at it, I could "pull intervals out of the air" etc.

And I have a *really* good pitch memory - by which I mean, if I have heard a popular song often enough I hear it in my head at the correct pitch...and if I ever want to "find" an A or an E, I just have to think of what a violin sounds like tuning up, and it's really, really close (dead on if I've messed with a violin recently).

The only way perfect pitch would help me as a pianist, is if I was messing around improvising...I can "hear" the chords I want to play in my head, but I have no earthly idea what notes they are...I have to hunt and peck.

I suspect my piano was quite out of tune as a kid, and I played a transposing instrument (a French Horn), so I often wonder if my pitch sense (in terms of finding the note I'm looking for) was 'out of whack' as a kid because of this.
Posted By: signa Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 12:53 AM
it's good that my teacher has it, and he would constantly point out at my lesson that i was playing tons of wrong notes... then we would check the music and he's right 99% of times!
Posted By: currawong Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 01:59 AM
Quote
Originally posted by ProdigalPianist:
The only way perfect pitch would help me as a pianist, is if I was messing around improvising...I can "hear" the chords I want to play in my head, but I have no earthly idea what notes they are...I have to hunt and peck.
It would help, but you don't need perfect pitch for this - good relative pitch will do the job nicely. Likewise with signa's teacher picking up on his mistakes - good relative pitch enables you to do this as well.
Posted By: cjp_piano Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 03:28 AM
Quote
Originally posted by signa:
it's good that my teacher has it, and he would constantly point out at my lesson that i was playing tons of wrong notes... then we would check the music and he's right 99% of times!
That doesn't really have anything to do with perfect pitch. Teachers and players who know a piece well can hear the wrong notes without absolute pitch.

Some would argue that in atonal music, you would need absolute pitch to be able to detect wrong notes, but once again, if you know the piece and how it's suppose to sound, even a dissonant harmony has its unique traits.
Posted By: Copake Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 08:09 AM
Neurologist Oliver Sacks devotes a chapter to the subject of perfect pitch in his latest book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. You can read an excerpt from that chapter here:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/alumni/Magazine/Fall2007/PitchPerfectMatch.html
Posted By: wr Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 09:45 AM
Since the actual frequency of notes have varied wildly over time and locale, I've always wondered what people are really talking about when they talk about perfect pitch. It can't possibly mean that they identify A as a frequency of 440Hz, since the frequency for A has been fairly arbitrary. So, if the frequencies for notes aren't set in stone, what are people with perfect pitch identifying? And what would "perfect pitch" mean in tuning systems other than 12-note equal temperament?
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 10:25 AM
Wr, imagine a colour wheel with its gradual shifting of colours, but there is an area you could call red, blue, yellow, green. You can see these colours and shades. Society decides to call one particular shade of red, "A", and you can see where yellow sits beside red. You don't call it yellow because of its position beside red, like the colour-blind people do - it is unmistakably yellow. But if A = 440 in that shade of red, you know they'll be calling a more orangy yellow "yellow". The colour spectrum is a constant. A dog remains a dog whether it's called "chien, Hund, dog, or kalb".

In regards to equal temperament - these pitches are not mathematically fixed in an arbitrary manner. Musical tones are vibrations that work more or less well together and so sound more or less pleasant. Think of someone wearing a red skirt and purple blouse = "clash". *First* the sounds worked well together a particular way, *then* we created a system for arranging them and gave that system a name.

Equal temperament is fixed blindly mathematically, and for ears who can hear, the combination of sounds is often "off". Two notes work together when they are played at the same time, but within the framework of a scale they also work together - in equal temperament they only "kind of" work together. The fine ear will hear that they don't quite fit.

Equal temperament was invented because if you have a piano that is tuned to the pitches that fit together for one key, if you play music in another key with those fixed pitches, those combinations sound really bad instead of somewhat off. So we've chosen "somewhat off" and that is how the piano is tuned. I wonder how someone with very fine pitch sensitivity can stand playing the piano, or do they dampen their hearing?
Posted By: Copake Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 11:00 AM
For what it's worth, here is a review of two available courses for acquiring perfect pitch. The claim here, of course, is that this is a skill that can be learned. Caveat emptor.

http://www.reviewsnest.net/perfectpitch/index.htm?gclid=CPKO--H8lpQCFQOIFQod4XLWtw
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 11:33 AM
Caveat, indeed. Relative pitch having the role of helping one toward perfect pitch? I understand that everyone here has a piano or keyboard, a set of ears, and possibly a working voice. They only expense is the instrument, and it's already been paid for.

Meanwhile, for interval recognition, there are scores of sites giving drills of various kinds. The world is replete with things that produce sounds - ever listen to the major third of a car horn? What range does the wail of a fire engine cover? When you walk down the street and hum a song, do you pay attention that the second time you hit the A it's the same A as the first one? How much do you truly listen to what you hear and produce? That alone improves the kind of recognition you need for music. And it's free.
Posted By: dkeene Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 06:46 PM
Personally, I do not believe that there is such a thing as perfect pitch. If I understand "perfect pitch", a person can identify a predefined frequency with accuracy (i.e., 440Hz). The concept "one second" is a defined by humans (the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom); as I know it, there is no inherent frequency standard or reference built into humans. Who defined 440 Hz as A above middle C? Humans can't identify a legth of time "second" within one hundreth accuracy, but one can get a sense of what a second feels like. Similarly, there is more likely an ability or talent to identify when a frequency is within a range that has become familiar to the listener. Those are my two cents!
Posted By: L'echange Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 07:09 PM
dkeene,

I think your making the same mistake I have been making when it comes to perfect pitch. Like I said earlier, A1-C8 is a very small snipet of what frequency/sound really is. But since agriculture we have been inclined to name everything.

The names we have given certain frequencies, the temperaments we have developed, are like maps of sound (or frequency).

Its just like a map of the sea. While the map is nothing like what the real ocean is like, you would be lost in the somewhere in the ocean without it. While the western scale covers only a small amount of frequency range, as a person with perfect pitch, you would be lost without that 'map'.

In a way perfect pitch is like relative pitch... because the person with perfect pitch relates a certain sound to what we have considered, for example, the perfect A. He or she recognizes that a tone is closest in frequency to a particular note, give or take a few cents, and gives it the name we have designated it.

I think your grievance is less about the topic and more about humans naming organic things. It is what we do, like it or not. We name the maple tree a maple tree. We name 440Hz A. It is why we have thrived as a species!

just my .02 cents laugh
Posted By: Copake Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/28/08 08:00 PM
Quote
Originally posted by dkeene:
Personally, I do not believe that there is such a thing as perfect pitch. If I understand "perfect pitch", a person can identify a predefined frequency with accuracy (i.e., 440Hz). The concept "one second" is a defined by humans (the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom); as I know it, there is no inherent frequency standard or reference built into humans. Who defined 440 Hz as A above middle C? Humans can't identify a legth of time "second" within one hundreth accuracy, but one can get a sense of what a second feels like. Similarly, there is more likely an ability or talent to identify when a frequency is within a range that has become familiar to the listener. Those are my two cents!
You may be taking the adjective "perfect" too literally here. We're about talking human beings, not scientific instruments.

If you looked at a computer monitor with a color defined by the RGB color model encoded in 24 bits per pixel as: RED=255, GREEN=0, BLUE=0 you would, no doubt, identify that color as "red." If it were changed to RED=254, GREEN=2, BLUE=1 you would probably still call it "red" even though it technically isn't the same color.

A person with perfect pitch would probably call A439 or A441 an "A" because it is closer to A than it is to A flat or A sharp.

We didn't need to use a pitch pipe in my high school's a cappella chorus. The director would have the lead soprano give us the pitch. I thought it was simply uncanny how she did that.
Posted By: signa Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/29/08 12:59 AM
Quote
Originally posted by cjp_piano:
Quote
Originally posted by signa:
[b] it's good that my teacher has it, and he would constantly point out at my lesson that i was playing tons of wrong notes... then we would check the music and he's right 99% of times!
That doesn't really have anything to do with perfect pitch. Teachers and players who know a piece well can hear the wrong notes without absolute pitch.

Some would argue that in atonal music, you would need absolute pitch to be able to detect wrong notes, but once again, if you know the piece and how it's suppose to sound, even a dissonant harmony has its unique traits. [/b]
i didn't say it's the proof of his perfect pitch, rather i stated that he does have perfect pitch. he asked me to test his such ability before, several times, and he named all the chords or notes i played correctly without watching me playing. it's a fact and there's no argument about it from me. in any case, he's a musician, and has musician's ears.
Posted By: wdot Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/29/08 01:42 AM
Lord. I've never before posted anything on a "perfect pitch" thread. Emotions run very high on this topic, and I just don't understand why.

I have "it." My parents and teacher noticed it when I was around 6. It's not a big deal. I just have the ability to identify a note that I hear. It's not a big deal to me. I had teachers who used me to demonstrate perfect pitch by asking me to identify atonal note clusters, but I resented it. That didn't make me a better musician. Frankly, when I sing in a choir that flats slightly on an a capella piece, I wish I didn't know.

There is no doubt that my brain is "tuned" to A-440. That's why listening to pieces played on original instruments and tuned significantly lower that A-440 drives me nuts.

Don't feel like you're a lesser musician because you don't have "it." Relative pitch is what matters. While I excelled at ear training tests, these tests were designed for relative, not perfect pitch.

Anyone who spends any amount of time trying to develop perfect pitch is wasting his or her time. First, the study conducted by the U. of Cal. demonstrated that one cannot develop perfect pitch unless one begins formal musical training before age 6 or so. Second, you're better off improving the abilities that you have, rather than trying to develop an ability that you probably don't. It's just not worth the effort.
Posted By: cjp_piano Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/29/08 02:21 AM
Quote
Originally posted by signa:
Quote
Originally posted by cjp_piano:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by signa:
[b] it's good that my teacher has it, and he would constantly point out at my lesson that i was playing tons of wrong notes... then we would check the music and he's right 99% of times!
That doesn't really have anything to do with perfect pitch. Teachers and players who know a piece well can hear the wrong notes without absolute pitch.

Some would argue that in atonal music, you would need absolute pitch to be able to detect wrong notes, but once again, if you know the piece and how it's suppose to sound, even a dissonant harmony has its unique traits. [/b]
i didn't say it's the proof of his perfect pitch, rather i stated that he does have perfect pitch. he asked me to test his such ability before, several times, and he named all the chords or notes i played correctly without watching me playing. it's a fact and there's no argument about it from me. in any case, he's a musician, and has musician's ears. [/b]
Okay, well testing his ability like that is different than pointing out wrong notes in a lesson. I was simply saying that doesn't have anything to do with perfect pitch. I wasn't denying your teacher having perfect pitch either, sorry!
Posted By: Rick Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/29/08 04:18 PM
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Swingal, you probably have relative pitch
Yes, but does he have Perfect Relative Pitch, or Near-Perfect Relative Pitch? I would assume some peoples' relative pitch perception is better than others. And similarly, some peoples' Absolute Pitch perception is better than others. So some people might have "perfect relative pitch", and others "perfect absolute pitch". So I guess all I'm saying is "why do they call it Perfect Pitch"? Isn't Absolute Pitch the better descriptor?
Posted By: BJenkins Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/30/08 12:41 AM
Quote
Originally posted by BruceD:
Quote
Originally posted by cjp_piano:
[b] I think it can be learned. It think we are all born the ability to be that sensitive to the frequencies.

Haven't you ever wondered why alot of Chinese have perfect pitch? Is it a coincidence that their language is very pitch oriented and as they learn to speak at a very young age, they learn to copy the exact pitches and inflections of the sounds?
Is there any proof that the incidence of absolute (perfect) pitch is higher among Chinese than among other nationals?

While I know that Chinese is a "pitch" language, is the pitch element of spoken Chinese absolute or relative? If it were absolute, I would think that that would lead to uncountable instances of misunderstanding or miscommunication for those who don't have "absolute (perfect) pitch."

Regards, [/b]
I speak Thai which is also a "pitch" language. I think that is a very misleading term. You don't have to say one word as an A440 to be understood, it's nothing close to that. In thai there are 5 tones, rising, falling, flat, and there there is a mountain type of tone and a valley type of tone. It doesn't matter what pitch you start at. You start on any pitch you want and then for a rising tone you go up, for falling, down.

Chinese has one tone Thai doesn't as far as Thai people tell me. It's the same as Laotian (which I can speak reasonably well), the "high flat tone". Which is just a tone that is constant but at a higher pitch than the other normal flat tone. At least for Laotians the actual pitch of that tone changes depending on if that person is mad at someone or just talking normal. Just like in English the way we say our words and the "tones" we use are important. In Thai and Laotian they just over exaggerate the required tones to give their inflection.

I've heard of the study on the Chinese and perfect pitch too. Although I can't really argue with research I just know that tonal languages aren't like a lot of people seem to think they are. I don't have perfect pitch, and I can talk on the phone with Thai people and they usually think I'm Thai (I'm white). So no, there is no problem in communicating.

Just my 2 cents!
Posted By: wr Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/30/08 02:31 AM
Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
Wr, imagine a colour wheel with its gradual shifting of colours, but there is an area you could call red, blue, yellow, green. You can see these colours and shades. Society decides to call one particular shade of red, "A", and you can see where yellow sits beside red. You don't call it yellow because of its position beside red, like the colour-blind people do - it is unmistakably yellow. But if A = 440 in that shade of red, you know they'll be calling a more orangy yellow "yellow". The colour spectrum is a constant. A dog remains a dog whether it's called "chien, Hund, dog, or kalb".

In regards to equal temperament - these pitches are not mathematically fixed in an arbitrary manner. Musical tones are vibrations that work more or less well together and so sound more or less pleasant. Think of someone wearing a red skirt and purple blouse = "clash". *First* the sounds worked well together a particular way, *then* we created a system for arranging them and gave that system a name.

Equal temperament is fixed blindly mathematically, and for ears who can hear, the combination of sounds is often "off". Two notes work together when they are played at the same time, but within the framework of a scale they also work together - in equal temperament they only "kind of" work together. The fine ear will hear that they don't quite fit.

Equal temperament was invented because if you have a piano that is tuned to the pitches that fit together for one key, if you play music in another key with those fixed pitches, those combinations sound really bad instead of somewhat off. So we've chosen "somewhat off" and that is how the piano is tuned. I wonder how someone with very fine pitch sensitivity can stand playing the piano, or do they dampen their hearing?
Well, I understand what you are saying about the color spectrum, but the difference with sound is that "red" has remained "red" over time, even if there are different shades of it, but "A" has not only varied over time, but has varied depending on usage, too, so much so that A and A flat and G and G flat and F might all have the same frequency.

But, yeah, I do understand that "perfect pitch" is some kind of ability to map frequency fairly accurately to some tuning system without any external reference.
Posted By: Age_of_Anxiety Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/30/08 06:04 AM
I think it can be learned. Sometimes in the morning, before I've played piano, I'll try to make an E in my head, then hum it, then play it and I'm right more than half the time. Also, once, during a tornado, I was down in the basement, bored. I was trying to figure out what pitch the siren was. I used my absolute pitch to hear an E, then relative to figure out what the siren was -- an A. I ran up to check and I was right.

But that's about the extent of it. I suppose I could develop the skill.

And that's very interesting, about Chinese speaking with absolute pitch.
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/30/08 10:40 AM
My training involved paying attention to certain things while singing a scale, which had to be perfect "relatively" as well as pitch-wise. I only had a brief spell.

The weird thing that happened was this: I would hear a tone and wonder if I knew its pitch. I can go to any instrument I play, and if I allow my fingers to fall where they want, I'll produce that pitch. Then I look and see what I played.

So I was told that this is normal, but it's turned my idea of what we perceive on its head. It means that part of my mind has a sense of where pitches are located in the instrument, and I can perceive that pitch and access it. But my conscious intellectual mind can't reach that. This has to have implications to playing itself. It can also be a stepping stone to getting to be able to name the pitches that obviously, somewhere inside, I can recognize - just that the name resides in my fingertips presently. Which feels decidedly weird.

But there had been a clue years ago when I had only begun violin and was restricted to the notes at the lower end. A truck was backing up outside and I was annoyed at its endless beeps. So I reached high up on the strings and mimicked the sound because I was annoyed. But how did I know where to find that sound? And on piano, can we - do we ever - reach unerringly for a pitch knowing where it will be?
Posted By: Tenuto Re: Perfect Pitch... - 06/30/08 04:40 PM
I have a condition known as "fairly close pitch."

This is how I discovered my condition:

I sing the lowest note in my voice range (I'm a mezzo).

It's usually somewhere between B2 and C3. In the morning ('cause I'm tired) it's B2 and later on in the day it will be C3. After that I use my relative pitch to get to the other notes.

best wishes,
Valerie
Posted By: keystring Re: Perfect Pitch... - 07/01/08 12:09 PM
A fun listening exercise this morning. Both of these quartets tune to a C major chord, the first coming in at C, G (below) E - the second is more subtle (first few seconds in each):
first quartet
second quartet
- just listening for what notes and intervals they were tuning to, then duplicating it on the piano, listening.
I have found this kind of thing very helpful, so I hope nobody minds my sharing it.
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