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Thread: Perfect Pitch

  1. #1
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    Perfect Pitch

    I have seen the topic pop up in enough threads here that I thought I'd start a single one to get an answer.

    Of what value is perfect pitch recognition? That is, of what value is it for one to hear a note and then announce, "that was an A below middle C"?

    People carry on about perfect pitch as if it were some sort of Holy Grail of musicianship (tell that to Beethoven... loudly...). What does one gain with it? The ability to tune or otherwise pitch an instrument?

    Perfect relative pitch is far more useful, if you ask me. That is, knowing the interval between two notes. I have never discovered a real benefit to singular pitch recognition. Tell me what I am missing.

  2. #2
    davy dusade
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwulf
    I have seen the topic pop up in enough threads here that I thought I'd start a single one to get an answer.

    Of what value is perfect pitch recognition? That is, of what value is it for one to hear a note and then announce, "that was an A below middle C"?

    People carry on about perfect pitch as if it were some sort of Holy Grail of musicianship (tell that to Beethoven... loudly...). What does one gain with it? The ability to tune or otherwise pitch an instrument?

    Perfect relative pitch is far more useful, if you ask me. That is, knowing the interval between two notes. I have never discovered a real benefit to singular pitch recognition. Tell me what I am missing.
    what i didnt hear that......id say you get a person who can name a pitch

  3. #3
    Wordgirl: Jaded Musician jade_bodhi's Avatar
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    perfectly relative

    I get Blutwulf's point, but I would assume if one has perfect pitch, one also has perfect RELATIVE pitch. It seems to me if one can identify a single note, one can identify two sucessive notes, too, and thereby know the interval. Neither ability seems useful without some knowledge of how to apply it.

    A friend of mine has perfect pitch. She can be in the next room, and I can hit one note on her piano and she can name it, even the black keys. The only use we found for her ability was to impress people at parties (only the musicians were impressed, however; mere music lovers were not).

    Perfect relative pitch would indeed be useful. I wish I had it. It would help me figure out melodies without the halting trial and error I go through.

    jade
    Last edited by jade_bodhi; 02-01-2007 at 05:15 PM.
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  4. #4
    davy dusade
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade_bodhi
    I get Blutwulf's point, but I would assume if one has perfect pitch, one also has perfect RELATIVE pitch. It seems to me if one can identify a single note, one can identify two sucessive notes, too, and thereby know the interval. Neither ability seems useful without some knowledge of how to apply it.

    A friend of mine has perfect pitch. She can be in the next room, and I can hit one note on her piano and she can name it, even the black keys. The only use we found for her ability was to impress people at parties (only the musicians were impressed, however; mere music lovers were not).

    Perfect relative pitch would indeed be useful. I wish I had it. It would help me figure out melodies without the halting trial and error I go through.

    jade
    true i guess it will help if your instrument isnt in front of you but hearing intervals thinking wise really helps too

  5. #5
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    I agree that relative pitch is far more useful, but that doesn't mean that perfect pitch is useless.

    In my oppinion, music just sounds better with perfect pitch. I know that sounds like a pretty corny answer, but it's true. The more you know about what's going on, the better something is going to sound. Perfect pitch is just another level of understanding that someone can add to their repertoire. Most people learn it for the party trick aspect, which is sad, but that's just the way it is.

    Now for a more useful answer. I think a combination of perfect pitch and really quick theory knowledge is on the same level as good relative pitch. Both will tell you what note it is and how it's functioning. I don't naturally have really good ears, but theory has come easy to me. I've tried many different things and for some reason, the combination of perfect pitch and theory comes a lot more natural to me then relative pitch. The thing with relative pitch I've always struggled with is what I'm suppose to hear the notes in relation to. You can hear it in relation to the previous note, the key or the chord of the moment. To me that's confusing and perfect pitch is more defined to my ears. In complex jazz progressions it gets to the point where, using relative pitch, you have to switch perspectives with each and every chord and I have a really hard time doing this. Knowing what note it is with perfect pitch and instantly figuring out the relation based on theory just comes more natural to me. So that's my answer. Not necessary, but an entirely viable option. Unfortunately no one learns it based on being a viable option. Everyone, myself included, starts learning it based on wanting a cool party trick and/or thinking its the holy grail of musical understanding. It wasn't until I stopped working on it for a while to really concentrate and struggle on relative pitch that I discovered how useful of an option it can be.

    and contrary to popular belief, having perfect pitch does not make it so you have relative pitch. I suppose it would be really benefitial to have both, but I can't really comprehend how both would work simultaniously. I guess you could just let your ears decide how things would get defined and some stuff would come in as relative pitch and other stuff would get defined with perfect pitch.
    Last edited by silent-storm; 02-01-2007 at 08:27 PM.

  6. #6
    davy dusade
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    wow you guys are very bright

  7. #7
    Wordgirl: Jaded Musician jade_bodhi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davy dusade
    true i guess it will help if your instrument isnt in front of you but hearing intervals thinking wise really helps too
    How do you train yourself to hear intervals? I know this has probably been discussed before, so if someone could just point me to that discussion, I'd be grateful. I have been playing fourteen years and I still have not learned to identify intervals without error.
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  8. #8
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    "Tubular Bells" did the trick for me. That, and writing the middle part of three-part harmonies. I am no roadmap. For me, it was all simple experience. You gotta have something to show for 30+ years of playing music.

    Even at that, I am hardly "perfect" at identifying intervals. When reproducing some melodic line on guitar, I frequently miss and have to slide or bend a fret.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  9. #9
    davy dusade
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade_bodhi
    How do you train yourself to hear intervals? I know this has probably been discussed before, so if someone could just point me to that discussion, I'd be grateful. I have been playing fourteen years and I still have not learned to identify intervals without error.
    i have downloaded this program called earmaster 4 now ther is #5 it is awesom...or have someone play them or buy jamie abersolds cds help

  10. #10
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    Before I had any level of perfect pitch and only basic relative pitch I was often able to take simple melodic phrases I heard and instantly repeat them on the guitar or piano. It just takes practice. I think the ability transcribe and/or reproduce melodic phrases has little to do with the ability to nail the name of specific intervals you hear. Just sit down, turn on the radio and try and play every vocal line you hear. The melody of most pop tunes consists of only 3-4 notes, so with a little practice you should be able to get those real quick. Then move on to another aspect of the song, like the bass, or chords or a melody going on in the background. Doesn't have to be perfect in any way, just see how much you can get before the song is over. After a while you may feel you are becoming more oriented in terms of hearing notes in relation to a key, but I found I often heard that after I played the thing.

    another thing that helped me hear intervals in my head was to always carry around a list of all the song I know. Whenever I have a minute I'll sing one of the tunes in my head and think of the chord progression. After a while different parts of the harmony and bass start creeping into what you hear going on. Again, doesn't have to be perfect to begin with. With enough consistancy your ear will sort it out eventually.

  11. #11
    davy dusade
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    makes sense

  12. #12
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    Perfect pitch is very useful. Aural recognition becomes so much eaiser!

    Also, it allows you to do things other people simply cant. Take a composition for example, you could make an entire piece out of sampled noises such as car horns, bells, people talking etc, and make melodies out of them, just because you can tell thier pitch. Transcribing music also becomes much easier, its like being dictated to, rather than a guessing game. Picking out complex harmonies would be a lot easier. Tuning would become easier. There are many things perfect pitch is useful for.

    However, i dont know where people get the idea they can develop it from. You cant. Its a genetic thing, to do with how your memory works. You can, however learn relative pitch. Not as useful as perfect pitch (as you can do everything with relative pitch, without the need for a starting pitch as a guide) but is still very useful.

  13. #13
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    I developed perfect pitch, so I don't know where you get the idea that you can't.

    I believe everything you listed can be done using relative pitch. The only thing is that it may be in the wrong key. That doesn't really matter. One note from any instrument can fix that. Or throw it in a notation program and hit transpose. Or just learn how to transpose anything...something I've found many people with natural perfect pitch have difficulty with. I once knew a guy who said he would start feeling sick if he was looking at a set of notes and trying to transpose and play them somewhere else. It was nearly impossible for him to play something other then what he was looking at.

    If someone has a natural affinity to relative pitch I will always suggest they try and develop that. It's an awful lot of work just to rid yourself of one simple starting note...
    Last edited by silent-storm; 02-02-2007 at 07:49 PM.

  14. #14
    davy dusade
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    what i cant hear u

  15. #15
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    How can u people say the RP is more useful than PP?

    is ridiculous

    the key is "compose" , if u are not a composer , PP is useless for u

    but if u are ......let me explain

    situation is

    someday u drive on highway , and suddenly the melody come to ur head

    if u are a RP only , u must ,first , stop the car then call ur wife to bring ur instrument and computer or anything u used to work with , and tell her where u are , but when she arrive , God!! u forgot the melody already
    its really stupid and impossible

    but if u are PP , what u need is just a pen and paper ,plus maybe10 sec to write it down

    actually there are so many situation that u CAN'T bring ur instrument with u

    but melody always come at that time

    for me RP is little bit useless because it is work too slowly when face a great melody motive

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