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Perfect Pitch

29 Jul 11 - 11:11 PM (#3198294)
Subject: Perfect Pitch
From: andrew e

Has anyone tried
or similar?
Did it work for you?

29 Jul 11 - 11:33 PM (#3198300)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

#1 We all already have perfect Pitch - most of us just don't have it in music.

#2 Perfect Pitch for a musician is often more of a handicap than an advantage. - The more important and useful skill is "relative Pitch"

#3 If you are sure you want to teach yourself perfect Pitch, don't waste your money on that website!!!!

back to point #2, which is the most useful one for you in my opinion ...

... I have played with musicians with perfect pitch, and they have needed to have their instruments tuned perfectly in order to play.

Whats so bad about that you ask?

Well ... lets say the Piano is in general a bit flat ...

... a solution for most of us is just to tune the other instruments down a bit accordingly to be in tune with the Piano, so that everyone is in tune with each other.

The intervals betweeen the notes are correct and the instruments are in tune with themselves and with each other, all being slightly flat by the same amount.

If you had perfect Pitch, the fact that they were all slightly flat would drive you crazy - if on the other hand you don't have perfect pitch, but do have good relative pitch, you would be able to produce consonant harmonious music and you would be able to enjoy it too.

Being able to get away from a "pitch specific" mindset and worrying instead about the relationships between notes is a much more useful grounding for advancing as a musician.

I can deal with points #1 and #3 if you like, but I would suggest concentrating on point #2.

29 Jul 11 - 11:56 PM (#3198305)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Deckman

INTERESTING! I grew up with a musician who was cursed with "perfect pitch." I well remember when he walked into my parent's home as I was vacuming the floor. He unplugged the machine, and said: "C SHARP!". He went to piano, played a key, and sure enough, the noise of the machine was C SHARP.

He had an astounding musical career: concert violinist, orchestra conductor, teacher, on and on. But he was constantly cursed by his "perfect pitch." Elevator music, folksingers, the poorly tuned guitars drove him nuts! bob(deckman)nelson

30 Jul 11 - 12:34 AM (#3198316)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: beeliner

I read - or heard - somewhere - a long time ago - that perfect pitch is when you throw a banjo into a dumpster and hit an accordian.

30 Jul 11 - 01:01 AM (#3198322)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

I find exact change to be more useful.


30 Jul 11 - 01:26 AM (#3198327)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Genie

No, beeliner. Perfect pitch is when you throw an accordion into a dumpster and it lands on a banjo AND a bodhran.

30 Jul 11 - 03:12 AM (#3198354)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Dave Hanson

The definition of perfect pitch.................hitting the skip with a banjo first throw at 10 yards and wrecking a bodhran and an accordion when it lands.

Dave H

30 Jul 11 - 04:15 AM (#3198365)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Will Fly

Here's a question for you all:

If someone has perfect pitch but can't read a note of music - do they know they have perfect pitch? Would Deckman's friend have said C sharp if they hadn't known music? If you don't know that an isn't quite A=440, does it bother you...

30 Jul 11 - 04:19 AM (#3198367)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Tradsinger

I doubt that there is such a thing as Perfect Pitch, much less being 'born with perfect pitch'. Some people who learn music can very quickly identify pitch, but what if the musicians are playing in 'old pitch' or not in equal temperament? I think it is just a thing that aunts like to say of their nieces and nephews - ("Well she has got perfect pitch, you know.") I think that the ability to name notes is through a mixture of practise and knack, but not some innate quality that some of us our born with and some not.

The same applies to "tone deafness". If you really were tone deaf, that is a medical condition and you would have problems understanding speech. By tone deafness, people mean an inability to sing in tune - well that is a skill that people can improve with practice and motivation.

I now await the barrage of wails from those who claim to have perfect pitch!


30 Jul 11 - 07:42 AM (#3198404)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,Russ C

Interestingly I live near Liverpool England, we always used to get our piano tuned a couple of hertz below concert pitch as apparently back in the day the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra used to play to something like 438Hz. I think this was due to resonant frequencies in their building. I guess there are at 440 now though.

30 Jul 11 - 07:49 AM (#3198408)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,donmeixner

I suspect some people are born with the ability to recognize learned tones. Once some one with some types of Asperger's Syndrome is told that they are hearing a specific tone as correct they will never hear it any other way. And I'm sure this is true of other folks as well.

It makes no sense that you pop out of Mom knowing "A" from "Bb".


30 Jul 11 - 07:59 AM (#3198413)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: McGrath of Harlow

Must be a real drag for people with perfect pitch in a session in a pub...

How do people with "perfect pitch" manage with stuff like "baroque pitch for strings" (415Hz) and "baroque pitch for wind instruments and voice" (466Hz)?

30 Jul 11 - 08:28 AM (#3198425)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: DrugCrazed

I won't claim perfect pitch, but do claim relative. There's a subtle difference. I've explained it before, but simply put I'll sing a song in the key you taught it me in, unless you ask for a different one. Then I have to think about it.

I do have a friend with perfect pitch. He's very useful, especially if you have something you want writing out. Typical conversation:

"Hey Rob! Could you write out this song for me please? The harmony gets too complex for me"
"Yes you are Rob. Yes you are"

30 Jul 11 - 09:07 AM (#3198439)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

Sometime just start singing a pop tune heard on the radio. One you don't normally play. See if you don't start singing it in the key you heard it in and not a key you normally would sing it in given some thought. I always do. My sister does as well. I know one person who is a voice coach who does so as well. But she quickly modulates in to her range.

And can you sing a Neil Young song and not try to sound like Neil Young?


30 Jul 11 - 12:28 PM (#3198530)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Richard Bridge

Far better not to sing a Neil Young song.

But I think McGrath's point is worth hammering home. There can be no such thing as "perfect pitch" because the conventional pitch has changed from time to time. Pitch cannot therefore be innate. Cannot.

30 Jul 11 - 02:04 PM (#3198581)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: IvanB

There are persons in our society who, when they have learned the pitch associated with the notes on a page of music, have the innate ability to remember those pitches. For lack of a better term, we call that "perfect" pitch.

I've noted in several threads on MC of my experience with an a cappella group in which I sang in the 70's. We always hit our starting pitch based on an A440 fork, but often our conductor would have us sing down a semitone or two, based on the period of the music. For one soprano who had "perfect" pitch, this was a nightmare. For those of us with good relative pitch, it was piece of cake.

30 Jul 11 - 02:22 PM (#3198591)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Dave Hanson

Peggy Seeger had perfect pitch hearing when she was a young woman, she could listen to a singer and write down the notes accurately, in the right key straight away.

Dave H

30 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM (#3198593)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: G-Force

I find that for a sort while at least I can remember a pitch. Even hours later, I can get back to a pitch that I've heard. Not perfect pitch, but more than relative pitch.

When I was young, we lived in a house where the upstairs toilet room had a standing wave which was exactly A=440, or a multiple/fraction thereof. So I could always find A by humming in the loo, and could remember it for some hours afterwards, and use it to find any other note.

30 Jul 11 - 02:30 PM (#3198594)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

To clarify this post:

"#1 We all already have perfect Pitch - most of us just don't have it in music."

It refers to research that was done which shows that if you record, for example, a child calling their mother, or vice versa, the pitch at which they intone "Mum" is extremely consistent.

It is possible to tarin your mind to recognize these pitches and to ascribe notational terms to them, but I don't see the value.

On the subject of Aspergers, it is interesting to note thatit has been kids with Aspergers who I have known to have perfect pitch, in so far as it can be defined as the ability to hear or reproduce a given pitch.

He used to tune everyones guitars according to equal temperament.

but it would drive him nuts if everyone was out, even if they were all out by the same amount and theirfore in with each other.

Definitely a curse!

30 Jul 11 - 02:47 PM (#3198600)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Genie

donmeixner [[It makes no sense that you pop out of Mom knowing "A" from "Bb".]]

Of course. You couldn't be born knowing the names of the notes or keys. But you could have an innate ability to distinguish tones and recognize them when you hear them again. If you can hear or sing notes and repeat them perfectly, even if you don't know what they are called in your culture, I'd call that perfect pitch.   (This is not the same thing as just being able to reproduce a melody with all the notes in perfect relation to each other. It means if you know a note as "middle C" or even as "Irving" you can always recognize it or reproduce it. And it would not surprise me if most infants are equipped to be able to do that if they develop the skill as they grow -- much as infants have the capability of producing all the sounds in all languages but lose a lot of that ability if their language does not use certain sounds.)

Tradsinger: [[If you really were tone deaf, that is a medical condition and you would have problems understanding speech. By tone deafness, people mean an inability to sing in tune - well that is a skill that people can improve with practice and motivation.]]
Very good points.   If you were tone deaf you couldn't appreciate music much (beyond the rhythms) and you'd really have trouble speaking or understanding speech if your language was a tonal one such as many Asian languages.   (English can be - and is - spoken and understood without needing tonal variations, as with people who have to speak via an artificial larynx after surgery, or with early versions of robotic speech, where "speaking" is in monotone.)

I observed an interesting phenomenon a few years back, with a friend who asked me for help to learn to sing on pitch ("carry a tune"). He played a (fretless) stand-up bass and would back up other musicians perfectly in jam sessions, all by ear. But when it came to singing, if I sang or played a melody line, not only could he not sing it, but he couldn't tell whether what he sang was the same melody line or not.   He gave up on trying after a while, but it seemed so odd - to both of us - that his "pitch recognition" seemed to be fine for instruments but not when it came to his own singing.

30 Jul 11 - 04:46 PM (#3198656)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Richard Bridge

So how did Peggy Seeger know whether the singer was singing in modern concert (A=440) or medieval concert (A=415 - rear as dammit a semitone flat)? Perfect memory of a particular pitch I can accept at a push. "Perfect Pitch" makes no sense.

30 Jul 11 - 04:56 PM (#3198663)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Crowhugger

Genie, I found it remarkable to see in action the kind of thing mentioned in your last paragraph. One such person I knew wanted desperately to sing with a high-achieving chorus, but her notes were so far off it was hard to call it a tuning problem--she's be off by a semitone or tone or even minor 3rd, and on some down intervals she'd overshoot by nearly a 5th. Not only was she unable to hear when two notes were in perfect unison, or even near-unison, she didn't know what to DO to make her uttered note go higher or lower. To the surprise of many, she was able to learn 2 songs accurately enough to perform on stage thanks to a few months of 2x weekly voice lessons and her refusal to back down from the challenge.

What she needed at first, along with vocal flexibility exercises, was a lot of time for safe experimentation, non-judgemental trial and error with someone willing to say over and over when she was wrong. It reminded me of what children are given when they are learning language, with the endless loving repeat-it-correctly that parents give them. Few adults can set aside their ego fully enough to go through that much correction; similarly few adults can set aside their egos fully enough to give that much correction to another adult with endless love and non-judgement.

I am happy to have witnessed the turnaround, it was remarkable!

30 Jul 11 - 06:55 PM (#3198749)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Genie

Crowhugger, my friend was not always so much off pitch as just singing the wrong notes - e.g., notes that were neither the melody nor a reasonable harmony. It did seem sometimes like he just couldn't grasp what the melody actually was or what notes would harmonize with it. But what was so odd about this was that he could do this just fine playing a fretless instrument, so it obviously could not be anything resembling "tone deafness."    He just couldn't make his singing voice do what his stand up bass (or his guitar) could do. it was as though he could "hear" notes and intervals in instrumentals but not in vocals - at least not his own.
I have no doubt he could have overcome this with time and practice, but he gave up on it fairly soon and just stuck to instrumentals for the jam sessions.

I don't know if it's relevant, but he did, unfortunately, die of brain cancer a year or so later.   I don't know if there is some part of the brain that would affect pitch discrimination in self-produced vocals but not other people's vocals or in instrumental music.

30 Jul 11 - 07:09 PM (#3198757)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Crowhugger

off pitch as just singing the wrong notes - e.g., notes that were neither the melody nor a reasonable harmony

That also describes the woman I mention. It says more about me than her that I'm trying to describe her note errors in terms of what she was aiming at. Before her lessons, you'd certainly have had NO idea what she was aiming at by listening to her! Who, coincidentally, is now also dead, heart attack in her case.

I have another friend who can sort of sing in tune if the music is in exactly the right key (I forget what key it is) but it's the only key she can sing in no matter the key of the music she's trying to sing along with. Ouch. But lots of enthusiasm!

30 Jul 11 - 09:18 PM (#3198828)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: andrew e

Well so far no one's tried it!

I'm talking about the ability to memorise notes permanently.
With no musical training if you had "perfect/absolute pitch", you would still be able to do this, but you wouldn't know the names of the notes. Doesn't matter if its A=416/440/445 or whatever.
I have [as most of us here do] good relative pitch. I direct four A Cappella choirs and only use an A=440 tuning fork at rehearsals. I can hear immediately when a singer is singing off pitch in relation to our starting notes.
I can have a good guess at finding a note. Sometimes it's right, sometimes a semitone or more out. If I started singing I may feel it was too high or low after a while.
I've never met anyone who has perfect/absolute pitch.

30 Jul 11 - 09:19 PM (#3198829)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Bobert

I'm a bluesman...

Any other questions???



30 Jul 11 - 09:31 PM (#3198836)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Genie

Well, I have a friend who seems to have perfect pitch. E.g. she can immediately sing just about any note you ask for, tell immediately what key a song is in, and notice (painfully) when anyone is a bit sharp or flat.   I envy that talent in most cases, but she is not always the best participant in song circles precisely because it DOES bother her a lot when people are off key, even if they're all singing the same notes relative to each other and singing the melody right, with everything being just a tad high or low.

I wouldn't ever claim to have perfect pitch, but I surprised myself a few years back when I picked up a guitar that had been stored, with strings loosened a lot, for a couple months. I didn't have a tuner or tuning fork or piano handy, so I tuned it entirely by ear. It took me what seemed an eternity - probably at least 5 minutes of tune-play-adjust-play-adjust until it finally sounded right to me. Shortly thereafter, I found my tuner, and when I checked the tuning against it, it was spot on, not just tuned relative to itself but exactly EADGBE too.   

Now, if I could just do that faster.


30 Jul 11 - 10:52 PM (#3198880)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,leeneia

I was once riding on a bus with a pal, and the bus had a squeaking part. I said, "I wonder what that is," and she replied, "It's D."

That's perfect pitch.

I have read that perfect pitch is more common among people whose language uses pitch. By that I mean that in that language, when a person says a word high it means something different than if that person says the word low. Since pitch conveys meaning, speakers pay attention to it when very young, and apparently they develop perfect pitch that way.

As for those who suffer when people are singing low or high, I say "get over it." People can sing beautifully together without imitating lifeless instruments.

I read a book by James Galway, the famous flautist, and he said that the idea that A = exactly 440 is wrong. Pitch is highest in Germany and lowest in the United States.

30 Jul 11 - 10:57 PM (#3198883)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

Andrew E,

Actually I have tried it - I taught myself to memorise the pitch of a G by recalling the sound of that string on a bass guitar ... something which for some reason came quite easily.

I was then able to develop this, but after a while I grew bored of it as it served no purpose other than to impress friends and fellow musicians.

Its been years now since I did it, but I reckon I could do it again, but then again, I don't feel any need or desire to.

Being able to tune in to what other people are playing, or just being able to tune a guitar off one of the strings without caring if it is exactly in tune are much more important skills.

The point is to be able to make music and, even better, to be able to make music collectively.

Its an interesting experiment, like doing LSD, but in the long run it doesn't really open any hidden doors and too much of it could be detrimental to your health.

30 Jul 11 - 11:03 PM (#3198891)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

If you would like to learn A really useful exercise ...

... then learn the sound and quality of intervals!!!

Being able to recognize and identify a minor third in a train horn, or the tritone in a car horn, means also being able to recognize the intervals in melodies and in chords, which makes learning tunes, and developing musical ideas on your instrument a much more efficient process.

This is valuable advice!

30 Jul 11 - 11:06 PM (#3198892)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,Jon

Looking up again on Wikipedia, A=400 is an international standard - ISO 16.

Of course that doesn't mean everyone follows that. Wikepedia lists New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony orchestras using A=442, Most modern German and Austrian orchestras at A=443, mentions the baroque tunings McGrath gave, etc.

Lowest pitch I found mentioned was A=380 (1720 English pitch pipes) and the highest I've found is A=480 (some organs played by JS Bach). Apparently that's around 4 semitones difference.

31 Jul 11 - 12:04 AM (#3198903)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: andrew e

Hi Lox,

I can already do all the things you describe. I can tune a guitar totally by ear, without playing any extra notes, and I'm not worried if its 440 or not, as long as it's in tune with itself.
I know all about intervals and do quite a bit of SATB arranging.
I have to be able to find notes quickly with 30 or 40 singers in front of me. I can do this with a tuning fork.

I'm just wondering if it's really possible to learn like the website says.
Then I could direct a choir with no tuning fork!

31 Jul 11 - 03:37 AM (#3198937)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: JohnInKansas

Helmholtz reported 203 different accurately measured Standard Pitches used in Europe, in his "Corrected 4th edition" published in 1877, and "Translator's Additions" in the English translation of that edition of his book book added about 40 additional ones to bring the data up to 1885. There have been numerous others since.

In Helmholtz's list, "Standard A" values ranged from 370 Hz to 505.8 Hz, Translator's additions extended the range to 567.3 Hz as there had been an upward creeping of the standards/pitches used by Orchestras in the period from around 1850 to 1885. This trend wobbled along for about another century, both up and down.

In much of the first half of the 20th century, the "scientific definition" of pitch was based on a middle C of 256 Hz, which gave an A of about 430 Hz, and many "piano tuners" continued to use that "Standard Pitch" until ca 1960 on "student home pianos" where the piano wasn't in prime shape, may have been built to standards that anticipated the lower pitch, and the lower tension let a piano in less than perfect condition stay in tune a little longer. (They hardly ever stay in good tune when the soundboard breaks.)

When the New (Scientific) Standard Pitch at A440 began to be fairly widely used (especially by instrument makers), the custom was to call it the "Concert Pitch" to distinguish between the A440 and the C256 (~A430) that continued (colloquially) to be called "Standard Pitch" for a very long time (by those who knew that there was a difference).

Most small bands/combos now tune approximately to "Concert Pitch" because that's where their instruments are built to be. Most stringed instruments can be tuned pretty much "anywhere" but the majority of wind instruments have a fairly limited range of tuning.

In orchestral playing though, the "A" is whatever the concertmaster plays when it's time to tune up. The "pitch" to be used may be selected by the conductor, who is an absolute dictator (often with appropriate personality). In some cases it's pretty much a matter of where the concertmaster quit tuning backstage before the orchestra sat down.

We (an anonymous small group of nerds with musical background) confirmed that the "Boston Pops" in the early 1960s did in fact tune around 1.5 semitones higher than the "Boston Symphony" – because that's the way the Conductor liked it. Before electronic tuners were cheap, determining an exact pitch of either was difficult enough that we never bothered. Documentation by others with better instrumentation in that particular era did report "normal tunings" used by various orchestras, and they covered a wider than expected range, although I don't recall any that were more than about one full tone "off A440").

Now with a couple of hundred different absolute tunings, attempting to "achieve absolute perfect" pitch becomes something of a puzzle of which one to adopt as your own personal calibration.

My observation of a couple of individuals who claimed "perfect pitch" was that they generally picked the same note name when the same key was hit, on different pianos that were, in fact, tuned differently. Once they heard any two notes in a recognizable interval, they might have a sufficiently "fixed feeling" for what scale the notes would be in if both pianos were "close to being in tune to a conventionally used pitch" but once they'd "zeroed" on the scale of a given instrument they actually were using a well developed sense of relative pitch rather than any absolute thing.

Relative pitch sense is, IMO, a much more useful ability than fussing about the absolute. You develop that sense by noting that most "tunes" are accented on notes that – taken consecutively – form a "standard interval," and some intervals are more common than others "because they sound nicer." You may need to practice lots of "scale exercises" that run intervals as well as just running up and down the scale.

It's no harder than finding you've got a grizzly bear in your bedroom and becoming familiar enough to keep the bear happy. (Instruction might be the equivalent of keeping the bear well fed, and often helps.)


31 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM (#3198942)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Darowyn

When I was working in the Music Tech department in college, I had set up a mic and frequency meter for a lecture/demo. A number of our staff were long practiced with tape based kit and had spent many years having to use a 1000 Hz tone to set up tape machines.
It was interesting to watch each one look at the rig, walk up to it and attempt to whistle a one kilohertz note.
They were all , including me, able to hit it within a few cents- that's a hundredth of a semitone.
It is clear that a pitch that is very familiar can be memorised accurately. I suspect that you can remember the Oboe "A" that an orchestra uses as a pitch reference too. A feel for intervals would allow you to pitch other notes too- though I very much doubt that this is how it's done!
The problem for the sufferers from 'perfect pitch' is that they care about it. Just because a note is numerically perfect in frequency, does not mean it's the note I want to hear.
To me, a singer or player that has perfect, unwavering, nail-on-the-head pitching, and metronomic timing sounds souless and inhuman- or more likely these days, to have been heavily processed in post production.

31 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM (#3198953)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: andrew e

Seems like some people have different ideas of perfect/absolute pitch.

What I mean is the ability to reproduce a note heard some time before exactly.It would have to be sung, or on an instrument with no frets. In other words being able to remember a frequency.

It's got nothing to do with what the note's called, and nothing to do with with whether A=440 or any other number.

31 Jul 11 - 05:23 AM (#3198965)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Richard Bridge

There are those who say that they are discomfited by others singing or playing if those others are not exactly to what the complainant calls "perfect pitch" - which clearly to them means A=440. For the reasons above that must be a construct.

31 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM (#3198997)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: giles earle

I was at school with someone whose perfect pitch was, unmistakably, slightly but consistently sharp. She could happily sing notes 'from nowhere' that were in tune to her ear, but were invariably a tadge north of anything they were checked against, including the same (nominal) notes provided by other schoolfellows with perfect pitch.

So a 'perfect' pitch that didn't match the local norm. I wonder where she picked it up.

31 Jul 11 - 08:57 AM (#3199041)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

The answer,

From personal experience,

Is Yes - you can memorize pitches.

You can memorize 440hz in a couple of weeks, and if you wanted you could call it 'A'

Whether you do call it "A" or not isn't of much consequence.

Which is why I have ignored some of the 'logic' above.

But I guess it could be useful to have an internal tuning fork ...

But I would recommend you do it on your own and save your money.

A good exercise could be to find a note that you sing clearly and resonantly etc, and then every morning and evening you could chime it, whether on tuning fork or instrument, and sing the appropriate letter, A,B,C etc ...

5 minutes of that a day for 2 weeks and you would be able to recognize that frequency a mile off.

31 Jul 11 - 09:02 AM (#3199042)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Lox

the key to the above exercise is to just do it ince or twice every morning and every evening in a casual expectation free way.

I'll be curious to know if it works ...

31 Jul 11 - 10:06 AM (#3199070)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Crowhugger

andrew e, maybe you already memorized at least one pitch. Next time you go to use the tuning fork, remember it instead, conjure the sound in your mind, then check it.

31 Jul 11 - 10:41 AM (#3199084)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,Jon

It's got nothing to do with what the note's called, and nothing to do with with whether A=440 or any other number.

But there are people who say they would be uncomfortable with the pitch being wrong if for example they heard a record playing a touch fast, eg. A from 440 to 442.

Whether they are aware of it or not, the note played by the musician would be A.

But I guess it could be useful to have an internal tuning fork ...

Maybe but playing in pub sessions I have to be in with others who may not be in A=440 (or whatever my tuning fork is set to) and may not even all be tuned to the same A or perhaps in some cases not use the same tuning system - it can be a case of trying to find a sort of best fit rather than taking tuner out, establishing A=442 and expecting things to work out on the tuner from there.

If (as it seems there may well be) it resulted in a conflict, I'd rather have my insensitivity to these things.

31 Jul 11 - 11:01 AM (#3199096)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Stringsinger

Genie, I think that it was because the bass player didn't have voice lessons whereby he could have approached his voice as an instrument. Pitch in singing is not always a matter of being able to hear it, but reproduce it.

I think perfect pitch can be acquired. When I first started music, I didn't have perfect pitch but now I'm pretty much able to tune my guitar without referring to a pitch source.

I can recognize pitches from machinery or sometimes train whistles without a pitch source.

I might possibly be a "cent" off but from a practical standpoint, not an important consideration which is easily correctible.

People with perfect pitch might have trouble when dealing with a piece that employs sophisticated modulations or those that employ a 12-tone series. I wonder how much of this is attributable to environmental conditioning as well as genetic potential.

31 Jul 11 - 12:26 PM (#3199143)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Crowhugger

I can see where perfect pitch would be handy, but like guest Jon I sure wouldn't want to be so severely afflicted by it that I'd feel bothered in settings where people tune to a happy medium that may not be A440. I do know a couple of people like that and they're uncomfortable with a lot of music a lot of the time. What a stressful way to live.

31 Jul 11 - 04:26 PM (#3199285)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch

Oh Dear!! Pitch perfect pitch!! Who cares so long as it sounds good??

01 Aug 11 - 03:50 AM (#3199490)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Genie

Lox [[ ... I would recommend you do it on your own and save your money.

A good exercise could be to find a note that you sing clearly and resonantly etc, and then every morning and evening you could chime it, whether on tuning fork or instrument, and sing the appropriate letter, A,B,C etc ...

5 minutes of that a day for 2 weeks and you would be able to recognize that frequency a mile off.]]
That's pretty much how I managed to tune my string-loosened guitar by ear, albeit slowly, to where it perfectly matched my tuner (when I finally found it). Basically, I kept playing and singing either "Over The Rainbow" or "The Tennessee Waltz" (or alternating them, until the sound I was producing matched what I had stored "in my head." And I knew which notes each melody started on, so when what I was producing on the guitar finally sounded "right" on that note and the other strings were tuned to the right intervals from there, the guitar's tuning matched the tuner.

01 Aug 11 - 07:46 AM (#3199586)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler

Does anyone know of a person who has perfect pitch and colour synesthesia (spelling?)?

Would the colour perception of sounds be a help or a hindrance?

01 Aug 11 - 07:58 AM (#3199594)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

Years ago I had a friend named John B***n. John had perfect pitch and we had long discussions about it. John said he wasn't born with it but he developed it over time as a piano tuner when he was very young; in his teens. He learned it working with tuning forks. He was capable of recognizing tones based on experience. He wasn't hard wired with perfect pitch right from the factory. But once heard he could remember what a sound was like.

Johns full story isn't happy. He was declared as Schizophrenic but I believe that was later changed to autistic. I met him when I worked in a half way house for people with mental disorders. John would listen to a song and as long as I had the lyrics he'd write down the chords.
He was never wrong.

I asked him once if the records were ever sharp or flat. He said they always were and he was just cleaning them up for me. He never went to concerts because of the noise. (he said) I lost track of John over the years and would like to reconnect. Not because of the perfect pitch chord thing, but because he was good friend.


01 Aug 11 - 09:03 AM (#3199632)
Subject: RE: Perfect Pitch
From: Marje

I remember going carol-singing with a group using printed carol books. Our leader had a pitch pipe to give us the starting note, as we were singing unaccompanied. We were about to start one carol when someone said, "That's a bit high, can we take it down a bit?" We all agreed this would be better, except the leader, who had perfect pitch. "Now I'll have to transpose!" he exclaimed in consternation. It made no difference to the rest of us to see it written in G and sing it in E, but he found it quite difficult.

I think many of us could cultivate perfect pitch if it was really useful to us, but in this and similar instances, it's a hindrance rather than a help. A few people do seem to be hard-wired for it: I know of a little boy who'd been learning the trumpet, and then someone showed him a recorder and played a C. He said, "That's a C", and when asked how he knew, he said, "I've got one on my trumpet." He could recognise the C out of context and on a different instrument, with no point of reference. That's perfect pitch, but as I've said, I think it's a mixed blessing.

01 Aug 11 - 11:12 AM (#3199729)
Subject: Colour synesthesia
From: Crowhugger

I remember as a child routinely "seeing" a major colour show when listening to music, most extravagant with classical music, much tamer for folk-style. I'm sure I was under 10 years old. It wouldn't totally override whatever I was doing, e.g. I could still pay attention to my piano teacher when she was showing me something for example. I'm pretty sure I didn't see it when concentrating on something else, like when listening to music while drawing. But all that experience is long gone; I hadn't thought about since I noticed it way back when--I wonder if it's recoverable? And I definitely don't have perfect pitch, nor am I aware of having it as child but I can't say for sure.