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Perfect pitch may sometimes not be

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Jack Campin 11 Jun 13 - 03:21 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 11 Jun 13 - 03:38 PM
Highlandman 11 Jun 13 - 04:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Jun 13 - 04:34 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 11 Jun 13 - 04:47 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jun 13 - 05:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Jun 13 - 05:16 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 11 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM
Stanron 11 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM
Crowhugger 12 Jun 13 - 01:34 AM
GUEST,Musket sans cookie 12 Jun 13 - 02:50 AM
Will Fly 12 Jun 13 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 12 Jun 13 - 08:18 AM
Crowhugger 12 Jun 13 - 10:22 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 12 Jun 13 - 12:05 PM
Highlandman 12 Jun 13 - 03:09 PM
Nick 12 Jun 13 - 03:25 PM
Nick 12 Jun 13 - 03:27 PM
Highlandman 12 Jun 13 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wrestler 13 Jun 13 - 04:26 AM
Will Fly 13 Jun 13 - 04:35 AM
Will Fly 13 Jun 13 - 04:38 AM
Tattie Bogle 13 Jun 13 - 04:53 AM
sciencegeek 13 Jun 13 - 09:35 AM
Marje 13 Jun 13 - 09:53 AM
Will Fly 13 Jun 13 - 11:01 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 13 Jun 13 - 11:50 AM
s&r 13 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 13 Jun 13 - 03:13 PM
Tattie Bogle 13 Jun 13 - 08:14 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 13 Jun 13 - 10:37 PM
Marje 14 Jun 13 - 10:05 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 14 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,highlandman at home 14 Jun 13 - 03:20 PM
Tattie Bogle 16 Jun 13 - 04:46 AM
Johnny J 16 Jun 13 - 08:12 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 17 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 16 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy 18 Jun 16 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Peter C 18 Jun 16 - 02:35 PM
Leadfingers 18 Jun 16 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Ripov 18 Jun 16 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy 20 Jun 16 - 09:08 AM
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Subject: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 03:21 PM

Creeping pitch shift can fool people with perfect pitch:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611122011.htm


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 03:38 PM

Fascinating!

I was born with what has been called perfect or absolute pitch. And I could never understood why other people (once they learned the name of a note) couldn't always identify it when played.

I don't know, if I had taken part in that study, whether I would have or wouldn't have figured out the creeping pitch shift. If not, it would probably be because as well as 'perfect pitch', I also had a bit (but not much....because I didn't need it) of 'relative pitch'. And in that study, the two probably compete against each other.

Obviously if a person with perfect pitch was playing an instrument that was tuned a semitone higher (eg. Ab instead of A) than what they were told.....they would start 'naming' the note what they were told it was.

I found that to be the case.......but if I were then played an Ab a couple weeks later, I'd have correctly identified it as an Ab and not an A.

One thing about 'perfect pitch' is that it is often lost in old age....it's like something in the brain changes. I'm 65....and about 7 years ago I ended up shocked and embarrassed because somebody was playing a song we were singing in a choir in the 'wrong key'.   

But they weren't.

Perfect pitch I have found has some advantages, but it's also an incredible handicap.   For example, I don't think in terms of intervals, but more in terms of absolute notes when I sing harmony.   And when I play French horn (an F instrument....so a "C" notation is a concert F), I have to transpose in my head.....I read "C", and think F.....and play the fingering for a concert F.

And I can't play guitar with a capo (although now I can if it's capo'd up only a semitone.....as I can 'pretend' that the Ab is actually a G).   

And...As I begin losing my perfect pitch as I age, I have to develop some relative pitch.....and it's difficult.

Didn't mean to ramble on so long......but this thread got me going.   Perfect pitch is a fascinating concept......and I'm very interested in learning more about it.   

But one thing I know is that people who don't have it cannot understand those who do (and probably vice versa).

-Larry Saidman.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Highlandman
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 04:25 PM

This is fascinating, Larry.

I have had excellent relative pitch as long as I can remember. (Can't always produce the exact pitch vocally, but that's a separate skill.)

I have doubted whether "perfect" pitch (meaning absolute) really existed, and suspected that there were other cues that people were using to identify a pitch. But after playing highland bagpipes for a while I found I could pick a bagpipe A (closer to concert Bb) out of thin air pretty reliably, and then pitch from there. But not go directly to a random note.

What really puzzles me is the mechanism that seems to put absolute pitch in conflict with relative pitch. I can sing (and on most of my instruments, play) in pretty much any key, no matter how well I know the tune in the "normal" key. It's great to have that transposition ability -- I can do it on the fly if not too sophisticated -- especially when accompanying various singers with their different comfortable ranges. If we start in one key, and someone says, "too high, let's go down a third," it gives me no trouble.

So obviously my brain works in "relative mode." Even though I might know what pitch belongs to a written note, it doesn't bother me to substitute another one. I can look at a chord progression written in Bb and play it in E, and sing the melody off a lead sheet at the same time with no problems. Now that's not to say one pitch is as good as another; once established in a key I can stay there quite solidly. Relative pitch both vertically and longitudinally, I guess.

I've known people who claimed they couldn't sing along with "Happy Birthday" if someone started it in another key. I always thought they were showing off somehow. But apparently this is a real effect, and I just can't imagine having that problem.

So -- Larry, or anyone else with established absolute pitch:
If you are used to singing "Happy Birthday" in C, for example, would it be easier for you to sing along in Gb if I wrote it out for you? Or would the aural memory of the "correct" pitch still try to throw you off?

Curious.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 04:34 PM

Baroque pitch has A=415 whereas modern pitch is A=440. Variation like that indicate that the notion of "perfect pitch" as a measurement of something fixed is mistaken. It's more a matter of some people having a remarkably accurate musical memory.

Other people have the same kind of skill with colour, but we are more geared to the idea that colours are spread out rather than being defined at particular points, which is how we tend to think of pitch.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 04:47 PM

No question, McGrath---much of it is a 'perfect memory' rather than an absolute and 'magical' knowledge of the pitch.

And I appreciate your response, Highlandman. I actually wouldn't have trouble singing 'Happy Birthday' in any key because I'm musical and have some relevant pitch.   

But if there is a more difficult song I've learned the chords for in one key, it can sometimes (but not always) be a challenge doing it in another key.   Whether that's on keyboard, guitar....and occasionally vocal.

So I don't think that perfect pitch totally cancels out relative pitch. I think it's more of a case of not needing it when you have perfect pitch.......and if you don't use it you lose it (so they say).


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 05:10 PM

What McGrath said.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 05:16 PM

Relative pitch is about memory for musical intervals. In some ways with many musical instruments that's more important. Too much consciouness of 'perfect pitch' could make sitting in a session where people are tuned a bit high or a bit low, but in with each other, could be pretty uncomfortable, I imagine.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 05:44 PM

I never found that, even at the height of my perfect pitch. At least not consciously. I'd be curious to hear from others with perfect pitch if they found that to be the case.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Jun 13 - 06:01 PM

I have had, on the odd occasion, a kind of 'temporary perfect pitch' but it doesn't last. I've noticed it when well into a tunes session, having gotten into a conversation with someone and hearing a tune being played which I did not know, I knew which key it was in and could identify notes as they were played. I probably couldn't do this at the start of the session and of course not at the end if I got too relaxed. It was an interesting experience.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Crowhugger
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 01:34 AM

Interesting study, thanks for posting it, Jack.

Further to McGrath's point, and I think related to the variable perception of "correct", here's a link to a chart of historical pitch information at dolmetsch dot com. The numbers in the leftmost column are for A above middle C, which nowadays is 440 Hz in a majority of Western music (maybe other music too, I wouldn't know). It shows how pitch norms have changed with time and place, making it clear that "perfect pitch" has nothing to do with an absolute value.

Like Highlandman I have great relative pitch, and my ear is fully flexible to include tunings that lie between the standard notes (as when a guitar is tuned slightly sharp or flat but not all the way to the next semitone). I find that this sense of relative pitch can also be both gift and curse.

When I hear music that's out of tune within itself, I can't help but edit as I listen; in effect I automatically "transpose" the wrong notes to correct ones. Compère two reeding uh cent ents fulluv rong speh Ling, ore wurce, uh hoal stoarie. I can no more listen without correcting than I can read the previous sentence without visualizing the correct spellings or audiating the correct words. The further out of tune a note and the more complex its underlying harmony, the greater the number of workable options to sort through on the fly, which makes listening to out-of-tune jazz more laborious than out-of-tune bluegrass. It takes at least an equivalent effort to force myself not to re-process the intervals in my mind's ear, maybe even more effort. To ignore tuning errors is easier though when I'm singing or playing along, whether harmonizing with an out-of-tune melody or singing with an out-of-tune guitar or banjo. Anyhow, all that is to say: My way to understand folks with perfect pitch who are bothered by transposed music is to think of them imagining each note and chord in its original key as the piece or song unfolds.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Musket sans cookie
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 02:50 AM

A=440 is the default of most electronic tuners for stringed instruments and so most guitars banjos and mandolins in folk clubs are there. However, the odd antique squeeze box didn't read the rules. ......

I can usually know the key a song or tune is in by listening but don't have the skills of my late Mum who could tell you most notes on a piano when hearing a single note. C# two octaves above middle C. I can hear her saying it now.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 05:33 AM

I wasn't born with perfect pitch but, over the past 45 years of constantly playing instruments - particularly guitar - I can hear a chord sequence or melody in my head which, when I pick up the instrument and play it out loud, is in the same actual key on the instrument. It's certainly not "perfect" pitch - which sounds like a curse to me in some respects :-) - but just the result of many, many years' playing.

Perfect pitch, as far as note naming goes, is of course a convention, rather than an absolute. It would be interesting to see and hear how people with perfect pitch - but with no musical education, training or knowledge whatsoever - responded to playing the same tune modulating into different keys. The convention for "Happy Birthday", when playing it at a party, dance, etc., is - in the UK at least - to play it in G. But that's merely a convention - Ab would do me just as well!


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 08:18 AM

The other point is that many more of us have perfect pitch than are aware of it; the difference seems to be that those who name notes out of thin air learned to do so at a fairly early age - even if they developed and extended that ability later on.

An interesting experiment is to ask people to sing well known songs in comfortable keys (the Beatles provide good examples). Very often they will nail the pitch almost exactly from nothing.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Crowhugger
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 10:22 AM

Some days I can accurately pull a named pitch out of the air but more often than not I'm a couple of semitones off.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 12:05 PM

I know I've recently lost the perfect pitch I was born with and had virtually all my life.   If my mother would play be notes or chords on the piano, I'd always be able to state each note....very quickly.   Occasionally, if it were more than 3 notes in the chord she might have to play one right after the other. (Yes, of course I had to be taught the 'name' of the notes first).

Recently, since I 'lost' my perfect pitch (which has been documented as happening to some people with age) I took one of those online perfect pitch tests....and it told me I had perfect pitch.   But I know I don't....it's not the same. I had to work at it and sometimes I got it wrong.   

So this is an example (as per the heading of this thread) where what is classified as 'perfect pitch' really isn't.

So it may be that there aren't 'levels' of perfect pitch.....we either have it or we don't.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Highlandman
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 03:09 PM

My usual way of finding an approximate pitch is to quickly and quietly feel how it lies in my vocal range. (This would be without an instrument. With an instrument obviously I just play it.) This gets me, too, within a couple of semitones. I can do it without making any audible sound, because years of singing has connected the internal audiation of pitches with the muscle memory of how my vocal tract produces them. But not to anything like "perfect pitch" accuracy.

Will, I don't doubt you can pick out the right key on a guitar audibly, like I could find that Bagpipe A, but with guitar I wonder how much of it is hearing the chord voicings and the sound of open strings vs stopped strings? As you know E major in open position sounds considerably different from the same name chord played in the open D position with a capo on II.

This is interesting, me here talking like my ears are really good -- in these respects they are -- while at home I'm trying to learn to mix better, and finding my ears struggle to pick up the supposedly dramatic differences between examples on tutorial recordings. I suppose it's a matter of time and experience.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Nick
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 03:25 PM

I definitely do not have perfect pitch.

But as a two second test I pitched what I thought was a 'G' and went and twanged the guitar on the wall and they were the same note.

But I couldn't magic up an Eb


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Nick
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 03:27 PM

It might mean my guitar was out of tune - but it really, really (genuinely) surprised me.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Highlandman
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 04:22 PM

Nick, if I once got the G right I could find my way by relative intervals to the Eb (major third down) and anywhere else the same way. Some intervals are too hard for me to hear, but I can composite them from two easier ones. Now I will become less sure about it as the minutes go on, especially if there are auditory distractions. Certainly if someone lies to me ("this is a C -- snicker snicker") I may lose my place.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 04:26 AM

It seems to me that there are some similarities between perfect pitch and a photographic memory. Does anyone here have both (I have neither, but good relative pitch and chord awareness)?


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 04:35 AM

Will, I don't doubt you can pick out the right key on a guitar audibly, like I could find that Bagpipe A, but with guitar I wonder how much of it is hearing the chord voicings and the sound of open strings vs stopped strings? As you know E major in open position sounds considerably different from the same name chord played in the open D position with a capo on II.

That's a good point! AS I only use a capo now and then, it may well be the voicings I hear in my head that I'm very familiar with - I must try the experiment...

Many years ago, I went to a guitar "setup" workshop in Romford run by a chap called (if I remember correctly) Robbie Gladwell. A bunch of us sat round while he explained how to work magic on a fretboard. He tuned up a few guitars from scratch with new strings - and got them up to correct pitch without any tuner whatsoever. I asked him if he had perfect pitch - he said, no, he was just used to it as one of his jobs was setting up all the Gibsons imported into the UK.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 04:38 AM

It seems to me that there are some similarities between perfect pitch and a photographic memory. Does anyone here have both (I have neither, but good relative pitch and chord awareness)?

I don't either but, if I write down the words of a song on paper with a pen, I can more or less visualise the handwriting on the sheet if I close my eyes - which is a great help in learning a song. I wouldn't call it a photographic memory, but a reasonably good general visual one.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 04:53 AM

As I said on another thread, I don't have photographic memory (hence struggle to learn song lyrics) but do have what I call audiographic memory, I.e. find it much easier to remember tunes, and this also extends to having a fairly close guess at pitch, either in naming a played note or e.g. "Sing a G".
Relative pitch was instilled into me at an early age through the aural tests you had to do for graded piano exams: e.g. Two notes played - what is this interval? Or "sing the note a 4th above this one". There were little tricks to help learn and identify them, such as "my Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" - first 2 notes = major 6th, "Auld Lang Syne" for perfect 4th.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: sciencegeek
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 09:35 AM

I fear that I have never really been an instrumentalist... unless you consider voice as an instrument... so absolute pitch never meant much to me. If it's in my range and register, I can sing it.

But the geek in me finds the subject interesting... so here is a nice piece on the subject:

http://www.audiology.org/news/editorial/pages/20081117a.aspx

I have been taking lessons to help gain some musical literacy, though slow progress what with life constantly getting in the way.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Marje
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 09:53 AM

I think that if we had a need to apply perfect pitch, more of us could develop and use it. I can often predict the key of a tune that I hear regularly (e.g. certain radio and TV theme tunes) just before it starts. If I really wanted or needed to, I could work from one of those notes/keys and identify or sing any other note. It would take a bit of practice but I think I could do it,and soon I'd be able to identify the key of any music I heard, or pull any given note out of the air.
But this would work against several useful things I can do when I'm singing or playing. For a simple tune, I can look at a written score, see how the melody goes, and sing or play it in a different key. I don't actually "transpose", really, I just use the written dots to show me the shape of the melody, the intervals and the rhythm. If it's not a comfortable range for my voice, I'll shift it up or down a tone or so and try again.
So if I had cultivated perfect pitch, I'd have the mental discomfort of seeing one written note, knowing for sure how it should sound, and having to sing something different, or of remembering a tune as being fixed in particular key and finding it difficult to move it into a new key. Ideally, you need to be able to switch off your perfect-pitch sensors at will, but I don't know if that's easily done?

Marje


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 11:01 AM

So if I had cultivated perfect pitch, I'd have the mental discomfort of seeing one written note, knowing for sure how it should sound, and having to sing something different, or of remembering a tune as being fixed in particular key and finding it difficult to move it into a new key.

Though, presumably, if the tune was formally written out in standard notation in a different key or keys, then there shouldn't be any discomfort...? After all, there are no absolute keys for any given tune - you read the notes and you sing/play exactly what's written. It would be a distinct handicap to "fix" a tune in a permanent key and never be able to shift it into another key!


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 11:50 AM

"So if I had cultivated perfect pitch, I'd have the mental discomfort of seeing one written note, knowing for sure how it should sound, and having to sing something different, or of remembering a tune as being fixed in particular key and finding it difficult to move it into a new key. Ideally, you need to be able to switch off your perfect-pitch sensors at will, but I don't know if that's easily done?"


It was never a problem for me to sing a song in a different key than I'd learned it. I might not even necessarily remember what key I sang it in before. But.....I"d know what key I"m singing it in now!   It's not that kind of perfect memory.

And as for switching off my perfect-pitch sensors? Can't be done!

For me what my perfect pitch meant was equating the sound with the note.....all the time without ever having to think about it! And I couldn't understand why others didn't also do that. Didn't matter if it was singing or instrumental.

I'm wondering if there are others out there with perfect pitch, and whether you also have found it virtually impossible to play guitar with a capo.   If I'm playing a tune with a G-D-C progression starting in the open "G" position.....and hearing an A (because it's capoed up two frets), I have to go to the "E" position next.....cause E is the next sound in my head. And of course, that would be wrong (as it would play an F#).   So the only way I can do it is learn to transpose in my head. (i.e think E...then go down a tone in my head to play the D).

Confusing?   It sure has been for me over the years.

I'd love to hear the experiences of others who have true perfect or 'absolute' pitch. Now that I've 'lost' it with age, maybe I can understand it better.

And it's also great hearing from you people who don't but 'observe' those who do. (As McLuhan says "if you want to know about water, you don't ask as fish").

-Larry


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: s&r
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 02:36 PM

Johnny Dankworth (Jazz saxophonist) was charged with speeding: he claimed that he couldn't have been, because the gearbox was humming at G sharp (or whatever it was) and that indicated a road speed of therty mph. He lost the case.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 03:13 PM

Obviously, Stu, the judge didn't understand perfect pitch. (assuming Johnny Dankworth has it).


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 08:14 PM

No I don't get what Marje says either: if you have "perfect pitch" or anything near it you should also be able to mentally transpose, and feel equally at home in any key (subject to being able to sing it, of course!)
If I put a capo on a guitar at fret 2 and play a "G" chord, I know I'm in A and any other notes go with that key. Or, put another way, I'm just as happy playing an A chord on un-capoed strings as playing in G2 (A)- my voice and my mind just move with it.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 13 Jun 13 - 10:37 PM

Tattie Bogle, again my point. People who don't have perfect pitch really can't understand people who do. The fact is I can't play a guitar with a capo. People without perfect pitch tell me I 'should' be able to. And, yes, probably with training I could....but it would be mentally transposing.

And again there isn't 'anything near it' in terms of true perfect pitch. You either have it or don't.   I had it all my life...until I reached a certain age. Now it's gone.......even though some of the 'habits' from having it remain.

So my challenge is to learn to join the world of people who have good ears and great relative pitch.....but not perfect pitch.

And, despite what some programs are claiming, people can't 'cultivate' perfect pitch. I believe they can cultivate something else.....and people's experience of being able to sing the same song in the same key each because they become familiar with how that key 'feels'....I think is a good example of that.

So is there anybody else out there with perfect pitch?   I'd also love to hear from anybody who has found themselves in my situation where changes in the brain (that comes with age) has caused them to lose their perfect pitch.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Marje
Date: 14 Jun 13 - 10:05 AM

I remember once doing some carol-singing (from books) with an informal conductor who was also a tenor and thus was required to sing as well. As we were singing unaccompanied, we sometimes asked him to drop the pitch a tone or so, as the concert settings are often on the high side. The conductor, who had perfect pitch, found this really irksome: "I'm having to sight-read the tenor line, and now you want me to transpose as well!" For the rest of us, no transposition was required, but for him it was more difficult: when he saw an A on the stave he heard an A in his head, but had to sing a G.

I do wonder, too, whether the way you first learn about music makes a difference to the way you approach pitch. I learned tonic sol-fa for singing, quite early in school, from about 6 or 7 years old. It's a system that is based entirely on relative pitch, and it's the one that I still use in my own private mental systems for storing and recalling tunes (also when playing the melodeon, but that's a whole nother story).

Marje


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 14 Jun 13 - 01:11 PM

I think you're right, Marje. My guess is that if I'd have learned the "I, IV, V" system for playing guitar or keyboard, that I'd have memorized the chord patterns for every key.......and it would have been much easier for me to use a capo.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,highlandman at home
Date: 14 Jun 13 - 03:20 PM

Here's an experiment for you, Larry.
Play a simple progression where it 'belongs' on the guitar. G-C-D.
Tune the guitar down a half step and repeat using the same finger positions. (Maybe on a different day?)
Does it bother you the way playing with a capo does?
Then capo up one fret while still tuned low, and repeat. Now the pitch is back where it should be. Is this okay, or is there still something 'wrong'?
My hunch is that your problem with a capo is that your fingers are saying G, G, but there's A, A, in your ears.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 04:46 AM

Ok, Larry, I agree that something has to either be perfect or not and can't be "almost perfect" just as something cannot be "rather unique" - either it is or it isn't. What I meant was, as another poster said, ask me to sing a note and if I don't get it spot on, I'll be no more than a semi-tone either way. Likewise if I hear someone playing or singing something, I can probably tell you what key they are in, without looking to see how people are playing their instruments.
As for capoes, if I don't use the open string chord for G, I just know that G1 = Ab, G2 = A, G3 = Bb and so on. Glenn's idea above sounds interesting: try it and let us know how you get on.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Johnny J
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 08:12 AM

The issues being discussed here have less to do with "perfect pitch" and more to do with the familiarity(or lack)of the mechanics of your instrument.

If you are used to playing in both "A" and "G" on an un-capoed guitar or mandolin or whatever, then the the change of fingering when you use a capo to play in A with a G fingering position is bound to feel a little strange at first especially if you are associating certain finger positions with a particular sound.

However, it's just a case of training yourself to get used to it.
Playing chords is relatively easy but, in the case of the melody, the fingering can change quite significantly.

Actually, the human singing voice fluctuates in pitch and the use of fretted or other fixed pitch instruments as accompaniment can be quite restrictive.

http://www.theschoolofsinging.com/tag/carl-e-seashore/


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM

Since, as I mentioned, my perfect pitch has 'changed' in the last 10 years as I age, that particular experiment may not be that relevant.

However, I've played on guitars and pianos that were tuned too low.   I can tell you with certainty that even at the height of my perfect pitch, I could do it if it were only half a tone too low (or too high). I could easily train my mind to think G if I were playing Gb or G#.

But if I tune it down two....to an F, that would be more relevant.

And absolutely....there is no problem for me to play with a capo on the 2nd fret if I'm tuned down a tone. And it is because, as Highlandman says, my fingers say G, but there is "A" in my ears....so then I to follow it with a "D" and "E"....and that's the finger position I use (which of course ends up wrong).

What I'm wondering is whether this is a problem for all people with perfect pitch, or whether some have also been able to develop a solid 'relative pitch' as well....so they can hear the A-D-E (as they play G-C-D), but think "I, Iv, V".


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 16 - 02:56 AM

I realise I'm resurrecting something old here, but stumbled across this and find it fascinating reading.

I have a nearly 11 yr old son with perfect pitch and we've had to help him with a few things. In particular, the choir he sings in often transposes, and he was getting exhausted by this until we realised he was transposing every note individually before singing it. Semitone transposition was hardest I think, whereas it is easiest for the rest of us with good relatvie pitch. It helped that I was forewarned of some of the "problems" since my sister also has perfect pitch. I hadn't realised till my mother told me that she always refused to sing hymns in church if they were played in a different key from that written in the hymnbook!

I will be very interested to see how his pitch sense if affected when his voice breaks. A couple of years ago in talking with him I was aware that he pitched sung note and piano notes readily, but was less confident with violin notes - reflecting, I think, having learnt his violin more aurally at that point.

Another example from my sister is that yes, retuning her violin made it very much harder for her to play. We learned together for a long time and would practise some pieces with a recording. It may have been Bach A minor that we wanted to practice with a recording that was in flattened baroque pitch. She could easily retune her instrument to that pitch, I found that harder. But once retuned I was fine, whereas she was still mentally shifting gears the whole time.


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy
Date: 18 Jun 16 - 09:18 AM

Hi Guest,

It's so great you could be there to help your son navigate through his 'perfect pitch'.   I think the only reason that I didn't have trouble if it were only a semitone off is because often our piano at home would be out of tune....so I got used to it.

I think that if I had learned musical theory at an earlier age---intervals or some variation of Do Re Me or I-II-III, I would have been able to transpose much easier.   Perfect pitch really is a wonderful gift.......and your son and sister are so lucky to have it.   But it doesn't come without costs.   

So if your son could just transpose the first note in a piece, then think of the next ones in terms of 'intervals'........I wonder if he'd find that easier?


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Peter C
Date: 18 Jun 16 - 02:35 PM

Thanks to all the contributors for a very informative and useful discussion, and no bad manners or insults!


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jun 16 - 07:27 PM

I KNOW I don't have perfect pitch , but I DO have a good ear . and can 'fake' accompaniment in 'silly' keys with some facility on Whistle and Mandolin . singke notes rather than chords


'


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Ripov
Date: 18 Jun 16 - 09:12 PM

And I can follow you when YOU lead off in silly keys!

But I can see that "perfect" pitch must be a terrible handicap if you are playing or singing with instruments that cannot (readily) be re-tuned, like a piano.
Do people with perfect pitch think or hear in equal temperament, or one of the other temperaments more appropriate to music from earlier times? And do they hear ET as "out of tune" in the way that string players and singers do?


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Subject: RE: Perfect pitch may sometimes not be
From: GUEST,Larry the Radio Guy
Date: 20 Jun 16 - 09:08 AM

I suspect, Ripov, that there are different forms of perfect pitch. As some have pointed it out, it is most often a form of 'perfect memory', where we associate a note with a sound....then remember that absolute sound. So, for me at least, equal temperament was never a problem. Since that's the way I learned to think of the notes.


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