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Thread: perfect pitch training disks

  1. #76
    Confused all too often! 2manynotes's Avatar
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    Perfeft Pitch

    yO!

    Haven't been on this forum in awhile; I was reading through the first few pages of this before I got tired (not 'cause of any one response - just SO many responses - and such a short attention span !)


    I thought I would add a bit to this idea of Perfect Pitch. I won’t say if it exists, rather that is might be possible.

    I am working on my degree and apply for graduate school next year in the areas of Sensory and Perception in the field of psychology. My experience with music is not as extensive as most of you, but I do pride myself in psychology and what little I can do with music.

    Looking at the problem 'of whether or not perfect pitch truly exists or not', from my perspective, is looking at what mechanical and psychological 'parts' are involved.

    (I'll try not to get too technical - 'cause then you might miss the point):

    There are two main theories in sensation/perceptual psychology that have, in the recent years, fused together to form a more unified theory. The two theories are:

    1. Frequency Theory: The basilar membrane (in your ear - has hair attached to a thin 'skin' like layer that converts sound waves into neural energy - hair bends - sound is heard) vibrates at a frequency that matches the frequency of the original tone.

    PROBLEM with this theory: Neurons can't fire fast enough to match tones at higher frequencies than about 1000 Hz.

    2. Place Theory: Different frequencies are encoded at different locations on the basilar membrane. (If one location on the b.m. is vibrating the most, that one location gives the frequency of the tone.)

    What this all means: When people say "people are BORN with the ability for perfect pitch" - they are in sense, or so I believe, trying to reference this (in a very convoluted and contorted way - obviously trying to make money by misguiding you).

    In order for you to hear you need to 'transduce' (convert environmental sound waves - into neural /brain signals). To do this, your ear needs to be able to distinguish between certain frequencies - you brain (primarily the auditory cortex of your brain) and your ear does this sort of recognition without your assistance (higher order thinking e.g. cortex)

    Is it really that simple? Are we all born with perfect pitch and can recognize certain tones (chroma’s) and identify octaves (tone height) with ease? Of course not. It is never that simple. I just wanted to enlighten some of those here who believe that the idea of being to identify tones with precession and accuracy is not possible/plausible or even likely, that indeed it my be that humans do innately have some LEVEL (different with everyone - which some of us might call relative – I’m not referencing that, rather the idea of a certain degree of pitch recognition) of pitch perception/recognition.

    Most of this stuff was referenced directly or summated from:

    http://www.csus.edu/indiv/b/blairn/percchap9.pdf

    Please review it for further questions - or feel free to ask me. Remember Im not saying either/or just that it MIGHT be possible for perfect pitch to be something we can all learn (then again... lol)!

    Enjoy,

    -Justin
    Last edited by 2manynotes; 12-26-2005 at 06:20 PM.

  2. #77
    Confused all too often! 2manynotes's Avatar
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    Talking One more thing....

    Perfect Pitch as described by most perceptual psychologist:

    "[The] ability to identify a musical note [(chroma)] even in isolation from others.

    Harmonics [are] important for this ability. When presented with ONLY pure tones, accuracy drops to about 50%"

    Basically, most people who claim to have a pure tone ability, do best when they have other notes to reference it, but can, and do, but not always, fail to identify tones by themselves. Again, food for thought, but not a fact carved in stone.

    And one other thing:

    "[A]uditory cortex [is] larger in musicians with perfect pitch".

    if any of you have any idea about brain development, you'll know that this 'characteristic' (of having a larger auditory cortex) can be something you are born with (either genetics, mutation, or fetal development), or as a child, and yes - even as an adult, can be developed. Despite what most of you /might/ believe, your brain does continue change throughout your life (however, mostly it shrinks and diminishes in ability once you hit around 60-70 - then it's all down hill lol).

    Good luck with this endeavor - back to the music theory board unless I provoke an unwarranted and mean response .

    As always, take everything you hear (no pun intended) with a grain of salt.

    (Referenced from: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/b/blairn/hearing3.pdf)

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaterGuy
    Burge just rambles on, offering his opinions and giving out excercises which you have to do on your own or with a partner anyway. If you want perfect pitch, save your money, read Chris's notes and work through the excercises.
    Perfect Pitch Eartraining
    Thank you so much for this reference- I read only a tiny bit and then spent two hours using the Absolute Pitch Blaster, and I can absolutely see where this is headed. The concept of simply developing the ability to identify an indiividual pitch in various contexts by simply checking for it's presence, basically the same way we identify anything else. Recognition the same as relative, except dealing in one note at a time. It makes perfect sense, and I'm convinced it's totally possible with enough work and patience. Good link- worth a look to all those open minded enough.

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    leegordo ,I have already said elsewhere, that Perfect Pitch is not an essential ingredient in the quest to be a successful musician or composer. What practical use is it? maybe it is desired for some unlikely pursuit, but I can see no advantage of a practical nature that P.P. has!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by szulc View Post
    We didn't say that it wasn't valuable as ear training.
    What we are saying is there is no such thing as perfect pitch.
    I know this was posted 8 years ago, but... what?!? Are you serious?


    You can develop (with good ears to begin with!) VERY GOOD RELATIVE PITCH.
    Nobody begins with "good ears".


    But you will never be able to tell the difference between 880 hz and 881 hz, and neither will anyone else.
    Well that may be true. However, it's irrelevant. The frequency interval between 880 and 881 is musically irrelevant precisely because it is essentially imperceptible. This has nothing to do with perfect pitch. But the traditional division of pitch into octaves and then into the 12 tones is absolutely perceptible, which is why music is arranged in that manner.

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bizarro View Post
    BTW, someone like James (I think), and lots of other people that I know, can trick others into thinking they have perfect pitch. It's something called pitch memory and good singers usually have it. Once they hear/play a fixed note, for example middle C, they can remember it for a long time, sometimes even an hour or more. If their relative pitch is really well developed they can usually identify by name the notes that they hear...
    Absolute pitch is essentially just that: the ability to remember how a pitch sounds like, allowing you to identify it in different contexts, independent of key. People that forget a pitch after a while are said to not have perfect pitch because they just remember the relationships between the pitches (if that much). I think it would be accurate to claim that everyone has absolute pitch, that it is the primary means by which everyone hears, and that "relative pitch" depends on it. Then again, maybe I'm just stupid and crazy. Could be. I don't know.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by szulc View Post
    I am going to make one last post to this thread.
    My point is this: if you take anyone with perfect pitch and play a tone that is 26 cents above a given note, say C for instance, how many are going to call it C and how many are going to call it C#? Or the reverse 26 cents below C, how many will call it C and how many will call it B? I have tried this experiment several times and the results are that some people call it C and others call it C# or B. The point is everything is in terms of a given reference. I learned on a piano tuned to 435hz so to me it would be C# or even D, because my early reference is 435 hz for A. Most people cannot tell the difference of 1 cent between two notes sounded separately even if they are close together in time. So because our reference is arbitrary, so the named note will be as arbitrary based on the resolution of the ear and that persons early reference. Eventually it all becomes very subjective based on the reference of tha particular person. If we all grew up with a 440 hz reference it would be less subjective.
    You are talking nonsense. It's irrelevant what name you give to a frequency. It -is- itself, not its name. The classical naming system is just used to organize our understanding of relationships between frequencies.


    Yes, within a given couple of octaves (around middle C) SOME people can learn the parlor trick of naming the given note if it is played on an insturment they are used to hearing and tuned to their standard reference. If you want to call this perfect pitch or absolute pitch go ahead, the names are at the least, misleading. If you take that person out of their normal envirnment tuning wise, octave wise or insturment wise they will not have the success they have with their comfort zone.
    That's because we hear a given sound as a whole, not just as its pitch. So some people remember the whole sound of a piano note, within a given range of frequency. Learning that these sounds are equivalent to other sounds (the same pitch in other instruments, the same note in other octaves, etc) is something they didn't learn, but that they can learn.


    To me this is a special case of relative pitch. The other point is that I have observed personally are those persons who cannot discern pitch at all. I have worked with several of these and tried to teach them to sing or play. There was nothing I could do to help these people. They could not discern pitches with any amount of practice.
    While it's possible they had an actual condition, it's also possible the practice you were using wasn't effective.


    So yes if you are born with good ears or exposed to music early, you probably can learn to name the notes of a particular instrument tuned to a particular ref within a couple of octaves around middle C. If you have not had early exposure to music or good ears you wont be able to do this with any amount of practice.
    I think you are wrong. Obviously no amount of training will allow you to hear frequencies outside of the human range. Your body does determine how much you can hear, and some parts of your body are formed during childhood and change little with practice. However, you are giving the "good ears" idea too much weight. "Perfect" pitch is not about a perfect, computer-like ability.

    Musical abilities are like language skills if you don't execise them before the age of 8 or so you will never be able to develop them.
    Is that a fact? I'm seriously wondering. I suppose using language conditions the mind to operate in a certain fashion, but what is the fundamental difference between learning your mother tongue at age 2 and learning a (very different) second language at age 60?

  8. #83
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    I tend to avoid the perfect pitch threads simply because everybody is so stubborn and opinionated about the subject. Working with countless musicians over the years, professional musicians and educators alike, I have my own opinions on the subject simply because I know so many musicians with PP and without. My daughter has it as well as the girl who runs the vocal department at the music college I administer.

    Previous quote: "Musical abilities are like language skills if you don't exercise them before the age of 8 or so you will never be able to develop them."

    This is untrue. Musical abilities and perfect pitch, in my experience, don't have that much to do with one another. The words "Musical abilities" should be replaced with the words "perfect pitch" in this statement. Musical abilities can be learned at any age but I'm not sure perfect pitch can.

    Of all the people I know with perfect pitch, all, and I mean every last one of them, started music around four years old. I have never met even one person who has it and developed the skill at a later age. I imagine there is such people but I have never met even one of them.

    Of course there are people who have such good relative pitch that you could almost confuse it with perfect pitch. I can usually identify any pitch without a reference note. Some people think I have perfect pitch but the truth is that I have been playing guitar for so long that I have the guitar's 6th string E note in my head all the time. So the truth is I have a reference note that is only heard to me.

    My opinion is that people without perfect pitch make too big a deal about it and seem to spend to much time and money trying to get it. The vocal girl who sits next to me has it and to be perfectly honest, it hasn't made her a particularly good musician. Of course as a singer, she sings with good pitch and this is important to say the least. But she moans and complains about not being able to transpose like other musicians. It is also funny to me because at the college we have ear training software in the computer labs. She nails the random pitch exercises but I smoke her on the interval tests.
    Last edited by ChrisJ; 07-08-2010 at 02:49 AM.

  9. #84
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ View Post
    Previous quote: "Musical abilities are like language skills if you don't exercise them before the age of 8 or so you will never be able to develop them."

    This is untrue. Musical abilities and perfect pitch, in my experience, don't have that much to do with one another. The words "Musical abilities" should be replaced with the words "perfect pitch" in this statement. Musical abilities can be learned at any age but I'm not sure perfect pitch can.

    Of all the people I know with perfect pitch, all, and I mean every last one of them, started music around four years old. I have never met even one person who has it and developed the skill at a later age. I imagine there is such people but I have never met even one of them.
    This fits with all the research literature I've read. Most gives the cut-off age (for learning/acquiring absolute pitch) at 6, but that's presumably an average.
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ View Post
    Of course there are people who have such good relative pitch that you could almost confuse it with perfect pitch. I can usually identify any pitch without a reference note. Some people think I have perfect pitch but the truth is that I have been playing guitar for so long that I have the guitar's 6th string E note in my head all the time. So the truth is I have a reference note that is only heard to me.
    I'm much the same. Last time I restrung my guitar, I decided to try tuning up with no reference (having removed all the strings first, so no reference string remained) - and I got it pretty near exact (only a few cents away from concert pitch).
    I have nothing like perfect pitch otherwise - like you, I'm just used to how the guitar ought to sound.
    This phenomenon of "pitch memory" must (IMO) be linked in some way with perfect pitch, but it's obviously a very narrow and limited variation.
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ View Post
    My opinion is that people without perfect pitch make too big a deal about it and seem to spend to much time and money trying to get it.
    Many do, yes: because to an inexperienced musician it seems like a valuable skill. It's certainly impressive to any observer. (The 12-year-old son of the singer in my band can identify every note in any chord or cluster you play on the piano. His mother has a great ear - faultless intonation when singing - but not perfect pitch; but he has clearly picked up musical skills from her from a very young age.)
    But it's little more than a party trick to a professional musician.

  10. #85
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Last time I restrung my guitar, I decided to try tuning up with no reference (having removed all the strings first, so no reference string remained) - and I got it pretty near exact (only a few cents away from concert pitch).
    I have also found that I can identify chords quite easily when the keyboardist voices the chords like a guitarist would.

    There is something to do with timbre as well. Things translate better to my ears when played on guitar.

  11. #86
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ View Post
    I have also found that I can identify chords quite easily when the keyboardist voices the chords like a guitarist would.

    There is something to do with timbre as well. Things translate better to my ears when played on guitar.
    Interesting.

    Like Jon, I can re-string a guitar pretty close to pitch, just by familiarity (though more than a couple of cents in my case, more like 10-20).

    I think you are right in mentioning timbre. For example, at different tensions the attack/decay characteristics of a plucked string do vary. Then there is the harmonic content. All of these can form subconscious cues which one could pick up on.

    I wonder what our accuracy would be like if we re-strung a guitar we are not used to, with a different guage string from what we normally use. I expect it would not be so accurate....

    Ultimately I guess using pure sine tones is the only scientific way to analyse this effect, otherwise harmonic content could always act as a subconscious cue.
    "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    This fits with all the research literature I've read. Most gives the cut-off age (for learning/acquiring absolute pitch) at 6, but that's presumably an average.
    I heard an interesting story on NPR once about the rates of perfect pitch among music students, which said that those who grew up with Chinese as a first language (in which the pitch and inflection of the spoken word play a large role in meaning) were several times more likely to have PP.

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    Tbone28, I taught myself perfect pitch this year, and boy are you right. Perfect pitch can be learned very cheaply, but one must make the decision to be persistent in ear training, and believe that they can do it. It is a very handy skill, but requires a different mindset than RP. In my case, I've noticed learning to listen absolutely has improved my musical memory. I hear music more clearly in my head. I also have been having the experience where I can listen to a song on the radio and determine which notes would have sounded better in an arrangement; this ability had been very weak before I developed AP. So I think AP has the potential to increase musical skill. But as for increasing proficiency on your instrument- you are simply going to have to practice to get better.

    Quote Originally Posted by tbone28 View Post
    "These won't work for everyone...."

    Boy is that true. The funny thing is the more intellegent (whatever that means) the more articulate the more problems people tend to have learning perfect pitch. I think the reason is they think about it too much.

    I agree with the advertisements. They are marketing ploys and they work well for them. People get hooked. But getting hooked doesn't mean your going to get it. But NOT getting hooked doesn't mean your better off. I would rather HAVE perfect pitch than not have it.

    Perfect Pitch is learnable. You don't have to spend alot of money to get it. Everyone has to make their own decisions regarding ear training.

    The bottom line is alot of the things people have said here is really good stuff. Perfect Pitch does NOT make you a perfect artist. You can still suck. It is just a tool for music. Like learning relative pitch or sight singing or tabulature. The sadest thing is actually learning the skill and being dissapointed that it is not everything you thought it would be.

    Good luck.

  14. #89
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    Smile

    So I know that this is kind of an old discussion. But I just wanted to add what I've learnt in my experiences.
    I've read a lot of this thread, and read a lot of "Perfect Pitch doesn't exist".
    I don't have perfect pitch myself but I can tell you; It definitely does exist.

    I was in Creative Generation 2010 - a state schools onstage production in Queensland. We had a professional backing vocalist come in and give us backing vocalists and main vocalists some tips. Us backing vocalists then went to rehearse with her. Unfortunately there was no piano in the room. She grabbed the music book and said "Okay Bass's here is your note *sung it* Tenors *sung it* Alto's *Sung it* Soprano's *sung it*. She then began the backing CD and as we all knew it would, was in the same key.

    So for anyone who says it doesn't exist, go out and get more experience in the music world. It didn't take me long, i was 15 when that happened.

    The other thing is; depending on what the standard tuning always was when the person with perfect pitch depends on what frequency the person has perfect pitch to.
    When it used to be 435 HZ as concert pitch i'm sure there were people with perfect pitch that could sing an A but instead of it being 440 it was 435.

    As for those who say that perfect pitch would be terrible because you couldn't stand to listen to anything not perfectly in tune. I have that issue and I don't have perfect pitch. I have really good relative pitch, can pitch a c with no reference because i managed to learn it. I can tell you what strings are the out of tune ones on a guitar. I actually have physical pain when someone goes off, and i often hear voices and instruments going off when others can't. But I think this is due to the fact that I am doing music at every waking hour. I am a musician, and I am also an assistant Audio Engineer. When I'm not working on either, I am at home listening to music, and usually singing along. I can tell when something hasn't been tuned to 440 HZ - A good example of this is Leona Lewis's cover of "Run" which is a good bit flat. And it does sound wrong to me, BUT in saying that; I can't stand to listen to a singer sing out of tune with everyone else in tune, but I can listen to this song because everything is in tune with each other.

    I wish I had Perfect Pitch because it would help me a lot, but it's not necessary to be an amazing musician.

    So once again, just from what I learnt in my short 16 years on this planet.

  15. #90
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    So I know that this is kind of an old discussion. But I just wanted to add what I've learnt in my experiences.
    I've read a lot of this thread, and read a lot of "Perfect Pitch doesn't exist".
    I don't see where anyone said that.
    Nobody denies it exists, although there is debate about how you define it, and whether it's inborn or can be learned - or whether it is in fact learned by all those who have it. (A largely pointless and circular nature-vs-nurture debate.)
    And also whether it should really be called "Absolute Pitch", which is a slightly more scientific term.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    As for those who say that perfect pitch would be terrible because you couldn't stand to listen to anything not perfectly in tune.
    Again, that's not quite what was being said. The point was that for someone with perfect pitch, it would (arguably) sound uncomfortable - though not necessarily unbeareable - if music was in the wrong key - ie, if it was all in tune with itself, but out of tune as a whole with concert pitch, assuming that was the PP person's reference.

    Pretty much anyone can tell when instruments are out of tune with each other - and most people find it painful. You don't need very good relative pitch for that!
    Musicians simply refine, or learn to focus, the normal human sense of relative pitch, so they can hear finer details of pitch difference, or at least identify different intervals reliably.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    I have really good relative pitch, can pitch a c with no reference because i managed to learn it.
    That's perfect pitch, at least for that one note.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    I can tell you what strings are the out of tune ones on a guitar. I actually have physical pain when someone goes off, and i often hear voices and instruments going off when others can't.
    Yes, that's good relative pitch.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    But I think this is due to the fact that I am doing music at every waking hour. I am a musician, and I am also an assistant Audio Engineer. When I'm not working on either, I am at home listening to music, and usually singing along. I can tell when something hasn't been tuned to 440 HZ - A good example of this is Leona Lewis's cover of "Run" which is a good bit flat.
    Well, that's perfect pitch again.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    And it does sound wrong to me, BUT in saying that; I can't stand to listen to a singer sing out of tune with everyone else in tune, but I can listen to this song because everything is in tune with each other.
    Right, which is as it should be.
    Just for the record, btw, Leona Lewis's "Run" is about 20 cents sharp of Ab - judging from the recording I managed to access - which I guess counts as 80 cents flat of A, if you use that as your reference.
    Quote Originally Posted by keanuv View Post
    I wish I had Perfect Pitch because it would help me a lot, but it's not necessary to be an amazing musician.
    You're right it's not necessary for a musician, so in what ways do you think it would help you?
    I mean you seem to have it to some degree already.

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