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#1239466 - 07/29/09 08:14 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11810
Loc: Canada
You have relative pitch. That means you can recognize the difference between notes and move from one to the other. But in order to be able to do that you also have to be able to recognize one pitch from being distinct from another pitch, so we all have some degree of "pitch recognition" which here seems to be called "perfect pitch".

I had strong relative pitch for most of my life and could also stay in key rather decently. Then I got pitch training, and this involved producing the pitch with voice and being rather accurate about it. This gave me a fair amount of ability in recognizing pitch as pitch, and not just to hear "this is an A". It can be a problem with piano, because of equal temperament. The piano is designed to be "equally out of tune everywhere" and if you can hear that, it's not pleasant.

I actually don't see where I would apply the ability to distinguish pitches by name on piano. Relative pitch is another matter. I think we use it all the time.

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#1239467 - 07/29/09 08:15 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: barnaby]
Studio Joe Offline
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Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: barnaby
If you were depending on relative pitch, the difficulty can arise when there are key modulations that are dramatic and whereby you have no prior exposure to before. What am i saying here? Sometimes you hear this dramatic chord or key transition that comes out of nowhere and may not be related to the root key, and you're stumped.


Not so for me: With relative pitch, I can hear the (relative) difference between the two keys.
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#1239475 - 07/29/09 08:32 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Studio Joe]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: jw7480
Not so for me: With relative pitch, I can hear the (relative) difference between the two keys.
Yes, me too.
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#1241777 - 08/01/09 08:01 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: currawong]
MiM Offline
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Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
To come back to this topic again, I did some googling and holy cow, there are tons of people who promise to teach you perfect pitch in no time. I also noticed one particular trainer who seems to have managed to use many web sites to lure Holy Grail seekers to his method... that is, you do another search and you hit another site which is supposed to provide an independent review of perfect pitch methods, only to be referred back to this guy's method. It was clearly a set up for him.

Reading what the music educators seem to think in that Washington Post piece, it is clear that academics do not believe this can be taught except possibly with this Japanese method, and even then, one has to be 4 years old and would have to go through 3 years of constant training.

Why do I care? I'm in this journey like most of you and I keep wondering whether perfect pitch is an obvious prerequisite for "real" musicianship. I admit I have not been able to play freely by ear, and I keep wondering if perfect pitch is the culprit. I know this topic is a bit sensitive for some people, but I think it's good to hear from more experienced educators and music academics who researched this and have an opinion on it. Specifically, is perfect pitch a must for freely playing by ear (use your imagination for what freely means)?
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#1241783 - 08/01/09 08:29 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me
I'm in this journey like most of you and I keep wondering whether perfect pitch is an obvious prerequisite for "real" musicianship. I admit I have not been able to play freely by ear, and I keep wondering if perfect pitch is the culprit.

Specifically, is perfect pitch a must for freely playing by ear (use your imagination for what freely means)?



I can see how perfect pitch might help, but I can't see why it would be necessary.

I know quite a few musicians who play only by ear. None have perfect pitch. All have good relative pitch, know what chord is playing and where they are in the scale, and that seems to be enough.

I've always assumed I couldn't play by ear on trombone, but in my 50's that skill suddenly came, as long as I knew the melody very well. I don't have perfect pitch, though I can get close to a pitch when I need to. I can't yet play by ear on piano, but I think I'll get there as well. (assuming I'm granted enough time, of course)
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#1241798 - 08/01/09 09:26 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: TimR]
Devane Offline
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Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
I have just come home and I'm off to bed. Its Race Week here. Very long days and nights.

This article at least doesn't go to La La Land and leaves little to pick at.

But they have left out a minor detail....Tonal Languages.
AP is a feature of language (and not music) which is why people lose it.

From Oliver Sachs book.(the whole chapter is here)
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/alumni/Magazine/Fall2007/PitchPerfectMatch.html

"Deutsch and her researchers have also showed very dramatic differences between the incidence of absolute pitch in two populations of first-year music students: one at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and the other at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. For students who had begun musical training between ages four and five, they wrote, approximately 60 percent of the Chinese students met the criterion for absolute pitch, while only about 14 percent of the U.S. nontone language speakers met the criterion.” For those who had begun musical training at age six or seven, the numbers in both groups were correspondingly lower, about 55 percent and 6 percent. And for students who had begun musical training later still, at age eight or nine, “roughly 42 percent of the Chinese students met the criterion while none of the U.S. nontone language speakers did so. There were no differences between genders in either group."



AP stays without intervention but I'm sure with special attention you could raise those figures a few percent but look at the tonal language factor.
At best ....60% Chinese vs 14% US.
The Japanese coming over and leaving out that vital factor is misleading.

Their 80% figure is all well and good...if you speak Japanese.


And anyway why?????
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#1241900 - 08/02/09 03:32 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Devane]
MiM Offline
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Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks Devane for the link to the article, and thanks TimR for sharing your experience.

I guess the main question for me now concerns playing by ear, as I don't think reading music and technique are affected by lack of perfect pitch. I would like to hear from those who have done fairly well playing music by ear, what their experience was like. Personally, I have been able to pick and play many melodies by ear, but not every song I'm interested in. There are many songs that I intensely like, yet fail in picking their melodies. I imagine that for a person with absolute pitch, there is no such thing as failing to see which notes the melody is going over, thus posessing an instant play back mechanism.

Just for reference, I'm an adult learner, almost 49, started music learning about 13 years ago, currently back to level 2 of Alfred after a pause in formal training of about 6 or 7 years.
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#1241921 - 08/02/09 05:56 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
currawong Offline
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No offence meant, but you really seem to want to believe that your problems would be solved if you had perfect pitch. I and others have said more than once that not having perfect pitch has not hampered our ability to play by ear. I certainly don't think the lack of it has made me a lesser musician. If you're willing to spend time trying to develop perfect pitch (which may or may not even be possible), why don't you spend the time working at developing your relative pitch and general musical ear (which certainly is possible)? In my opinion this will be more valuable.
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#1241929 - 08/02/09 06:53 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5966
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me
I would like to hear from those who have done fairly well playing music by ear, what their experience was like.
Sorry - I actually neglected to answer your question, so concerned was I that you thought perfect pitch was a magic bullet to solve all your problems smile

I spent a lot of my childhood picking out tunes on the piano. So I didn't have perfect pitch (hadn't even heard of it till I was well into my teens) and there was a bit of trial and error involved. But the more I did it the less error there was and the more I'd go straight to the right note. My father (who was my first teacher) played by ear (as well as reading music) and I just absorbed the idea that this was fun - not something to stress about. By the time I did my first piano exam (grade 7, at age 15) the aural tests were no problem at all. Through repeated exposure and experimenting I had developed a very good relative pitch. I could also harmonise anything I heard. When I studied music at uni I was one of about 8 or 9 students in first year who were exempted from aural class because we could already do it all. I can only recall one of those who had perfect pitch. The others, like me, had developed relative pitch to a high level.

(And here's an added advantage to not having perfect pitch: I don't transpose using this cheat method smile but plenty of people use the transpose button on their digital pianos. If you had perfect pitch I imagine that would mess with your head!)
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#1241936 - 08/02/09 07:19 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: currawong]
MiM Offline
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Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks currawong for your input. It's good to know that lack of perfect pitch is not an obstacle. I did have doubts after reading the original post as to whether I'm in the wrong hobby!

At one point, I reasoned that may be perfect pitch is God's way of assigning specialities to people: Humanity needs architects, so only a handful gets equipped with good spatial abilities, 3D visualization, and some art gift; humanity needs to be able to solve complex physical problem, a handful gets equipped with mathematical genius, etc.; and of course humanity needs music for comfort and enjoyment, so a handful of people gets perfect pitch in order to serve humanity that function. Too wild a thought, huh?
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#1241938 - 08/02/09 07:39 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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Loc: Down Under
Yes it is too wild a thought, because it's trying to put all the many things that go to make someone a musician to one side and just focusing on one little skill which many of us have been at pains to point out is not even useful in some contexts and could be a positive nuisance! So what about rhythmic skill? What about creative thought? What about the physical skill of the gifted player? What about the musical insight which can produce a performance so beautiful it takes your breath away? Being able to name a note someone else strikes on a piano seems to be not quite in the same league to me.

You would have done better, in my opinion, to say something like: Humanity needs music, so everybody has the ability to respond in some way to music, and some people have the ability to move others with the music they make.
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#1242223 - 08/02/09 07:34 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: currawong]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: currawong
Yes it is too wild a thought, because it's trying to put all the many things that go to make someone a musician to one side and just focusing on one little skill which many of us have been at pains to point out is not even useful in some contexts and could be a positive nuisance!


It is a relatively minor skill, I think, at least if performed at high levels where we can instantly identify pitches without error. (I suspect most of us have developed lesser degrees of this)

However, it is one example of a musical skill that seems to be fairly easy to learn when very young and absolutely impossible to learn when old. If there is one skill like that, there are others. Any time we have a skill like that, we need to be aware of the student's developmental stage, and be prepared to substitute other strategies as necessary.
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#1242362 - 08/03/09 01:06 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: TimR]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Perfect pitch is a parlor trick -- useless to someone with no musical sensibilities, useful to a musician.

But ten fingers are also useless to a musical dunderhead and useful to a musician. *shrug*

When even someone like Pavarotti was sneered at for learning his work "by ear," the only possible conclusion to come to is that if you are already brilliantly gifted, perfect pitch is sure to help you, but it's being brilliantly gifted in the first place that really counts.
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#1242469 - 08/03/09 09:12 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: J Cortese]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
First, Devane, Japanese is not a tonal language. Sorry.

I just wrote a post a few weeks ago on the so-called Asian advantage to perfect pitch. In fact, the article I quoted was one published last year by Drs. Schellenberg and Trehub entitled Is There An Asian Advantage for Pitch Memory? Well, long story short, no, there is no conclusive evidence that being Asian and speaking a tonal language gives you a leg up on the AP ladder. Not in this study, at least, and they used fluent Mandarin-speaking Chinese-Canadian students. If AP depended simply on race and ability to speak a tonal language, then the Chinese-Canadian kids should have had better results in identifying whether or not certain songs had been shifted in pitch, but no. Other studies done (not all of them by Schellenberg or Trehub) have shown that AP does not necessarily result from early music learning. To be frank, AP depends on a multitude of factors, and they can't be broken neatly into a pie chart, like 10% race, 15% language, 25% early music training, 25% musical home environment, etc.

Unlike many people here on PW I use a very, very strict definition for absolute pitch. Everything else is relative pitch. Absolute pitch cannot be taught. Relative pitch can. Not like it matters, in the end, because whether or not you have absolute pitch has no bearing on how good of a musician you are.
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#1242689 - 08/03/09 03:03 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: MiM]
David-G Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1244
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me
There are many songs that I intensely like, yet fail in picking their melodies. I imagine that for a person with absolute pitch, there is no such thing as failing to see which notes the melody is going over, thus posessing an instant play back mechanism.


I am not at all sure that this is true. Having AP is not the same thing as knowing instinctively which note in your head corresponds to which key on the piano. That would take training and musicianship.

I fully support what Currawong has said.

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#1242803 - 08/03/09 05:48 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: David-G]
Devane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: David-G

I am not at all sure that this is true. Having AP is not the same thing as knowing instinctively which note in your head corresponds to which key on the piano. That would take training and musicianship.

I fully support what Currawong has said.


Ditto.
Even with genuine AP labeling and then recalling/discriminating takes practice. It not a simple match against your memory. What your mind categorizes with the label "A" applies to every "A" on the piano, even though you are aware they are different notes.

Labeling normally happens without conscious effort as it is blatantly obvious for a child who has AP that all the C's sound similar and visually on the piano when they learn the names it makes sense. Its a repeating spectrum. That is why the word "chroma" is used.

The robot myth with the apparent table of frequencies stored in our heads is amusing.

If you have Genuine AP it's hardly remarkable that you pick out 12 notes names. Being quick at this parlor trick takes training, AP or pitch memory, but to what end?

If you strip away someones perception of rhythm or dynamics you will instantly see a musical deficiently. You can easily tell us what would happen.

But with AP I haven't heard a single argument that divides AP and Non AP people apart concerning musical skill.


All alleged advantages had nothing to do with the differences in perception but imply memory or RP/some form of music training but they give all the credit to AP.

These advantages therefore imply that non-Ap people can't memorise notes or detect keys changes and transcribe music?? Non AP people apparently can't tell if a piano is out of tune?.

To have a valid advantage or disadvantage is must clearly separate the two groups and point out the difference to be useful within a music context.

All alleged disadvantages make little sense too if you analyze them too and point more to memory other than AP. Its nonsense!

I have AP so it not a statement of sour grapes. I just like to analyze. Which is what makes music fascinating.

ps.

Why are we all brown. Kinda 70's looking.
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#1242832 - 08/03/09 06:54 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Devane]
Devane Offline
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Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
The time I spend on scientific subjects is astonishing. I can hardly be bothered to comment on the pieces I'm working on at the moment. frown Maybe by next year.

Originally Posted By: Minaku
First, Devane, Japanese is not a tonal language. Sorry.


That's cool. I believe you. I’ll give this lady’s success rate due to her intervention. Her method makes sense and doesn’t conflict with the subject of AP.

Concerning the status of Japanese I have looked this up before and got conflicting info. But like the ad-hoc AP definitions there seems to be imprecise clarifications from tonal to partially tonal. "Partially tonal" to somebody with clearer definitions could be "not tonal", the same way I define AP and pseudo-AP.

I did check this but got info like this.....

"There are numerous tonal languages in East Asia, including all the Chinese dialects (although Shanghainese is generally considered as only marginally tonal, with characteristics of pitch accent), Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, and Burmese (but not Mongolian, Khmer, Malay, standard Japanese or standard Korean)."

Ok wikipedia is far from ok. But when you do further research for "tonal" and "Japanese" on the net you will find articles suggesting it.

“In Japanese, tone often has this grammatical function. It is used to distinguish words, but is also used to mark sentences.....
....As just shown, Japanese uses tone in this fashion, both grammatically and lexically.
http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/language/tonal.html

Whether or not Japanese is classified as tonal or not in the strictest sense, does it disqualify it from being an environmental factor? I’m go with “no” for Japanese based on your clarification but Chinese is hard to knock. I just follow the figures but I have problems as to why tonal languages have an effect. Seeing figures is one thing but an explanation would be handy.

Do the tonal languages use octaves in their languages to communicate?

I've always had this question concerning me about tonal language value. The articles I've read routinely show an advantage. With AP (genuine) you can perceive octaves based on any individual frequency (without using RP). So knowing this, my question is "are there octaves present in tonal languages?" The answer should be "no" because otherwise it would be well documented about a sizable percentage of Chinese people who have problems with their own language. So how do tonal languages make a difference?

The octave becomes a feature of language from "music exposure" but I don't see how one can get it from a tonal language if it doesn't contain octaves. I've never found an answer to this.



Originally Posted By: Minaku

I just wrote a post a few weeks ago on the so-called Asian advantage to perfect pitch. In fact, the article I quoted was one published last year by Drs. Schellenberg and Trehub entitled Is There An Asian Advantage for Pitch Memory?


The article you stated I couldn't read when you posted because I had to sign up and pay? I've just read an article now about it.
http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/07/why_do_more_asians_have_perfec.php

It does indeed standardise the environment by comparing students from the same place but with language backgrounds. I was liking it and hoping for a debunk/new angle until I realised it was testing “pitch memory” based on Levitin's pitch memory study and not whether they had genuine AP where you can perceive pitch chroma. Pitch memory is available to all. It proves people don’t have problems with memorising pitches. It doesn’t disprove the tonal factor here I’m afraid as this is about pitch memory and not about how someone perceive notes.


I've always seen music exposure as being the prime factor but it may not be only factor. It is clear you must have music exposure at the critical stage but they are other factors.

I myself have AP without a tonal language or "early training". I started on recently in my 30's. But I craved music as a baby and was practically glued to the radio during my childhood. So I don't think my situation debunks anything as I clearly had the primary factor. "Above average exposure" is a better term than "early training" but this lady's programme falls under both in this case.

Other factors...

The brain is physically different if you have AP. Is it environmental or genetic?.

The Bejing kids who have all the environmental factors and still don't have AP suggests a genetic factor too. If they think they have isolated those genes, test the kids from the same school. I doubt they are suggesting it over-rides the environmental factors, it is just another ingredient.



Originally Posted By: Minaku

Unlike many people here on PW I use a very, very strict definition for absolute pitch. Everything else is relative pitch. Absolute pitch cannot be taught. Relative pitch can. Not like it matters, in the end, because whether or not you have absolute pitch has no bearing on how good of a musician you are.


I've been playing that song since day one. Discussing the data of the papers is one thing but if the person you are discussing the subject with only has their own take on the subject based on no research and it making up their own definitions, it can get ugly.

Ad-hoc/fuzzy definitions giving virtually everything the name "perfect pitch" is confusing. The result of this is people claiming to disprove 100's of neurological/linguistic papers with their stories but what they are doing is just labeling an array of skills as AP.
"My Ap is...." fill in own definition here.

They know nothing about the properties of an octave , "pitch class" or "critical stage in language development" etc and cannot separate perception from memory.

I'm sure some have taken offense when I've said they have "pseudo-AP" as if AP had something to do with their musical skill. The studies are there to find out the answer as to why some people don't lose AP. The pool of people involved just happen to be musicians but this isn't a test of musicality.

Go to the ABRSM for that! cool
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#1242844 - 08/03/09 07:07 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Devane]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Quick comment -- Japanese is under no circumstances a tonal language, no matter what some web page says. It's as tonal as English is, where tone of voice and tonal contours can influence meaning, and syllable stress can change the meaning of words like "reCORD" and "REcord." Only no one says English is "partially tonal" and gets away with it.

Japanese != tonal. Case closed.
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#1242858 - 08/03/09 07:32 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: J Cortese]
Devane Offline
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Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: J Cortese

Japanese != tonal. Case closed.


Yes, that has been clarified. Her programme by intervention seems to ensure AP stays. If it'll work 100%?

But not case closed for tonal languages associated with AP...or genetics....to date. smile
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#1242987 - 08/03/09 11:31 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: currawong]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: currawong
When I studied music at uni I was one of about 8 or 9 students in first year who were exempted from aural class because we could already do it all. I can only recall one of those who had perfect pitch. The others, like me, had developed relative pitch to a high level.

For similar reasons I also exempted such classes.
Quote:

(And here's an added advantage to not having perfect pitch: I don't transpose using this cheat method smile but plenty of people use the transpose button on their digital pianos. If you had perfect pitch I imagine that would mess with your head!)

I can't do that. I am totally disoriented when a DP is set to another key. I can still read music, but I can't find anything. That would seem to mean that my sense of "absolute pitch" is a wee bit stronger than yours. Is it an advantage?

Absolutely NOT. And to all: I use "absolute pitch" in a very loose sense. I do NOT believe I have the "real McCoy". smile
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#1243119 - 08/04/09 07:31 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Seeker]
jscomposer Offline
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Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
I don't have perfect pitch. But often times I'll be listening to a piece of music in my head and after a few measures I'll realize I'm not in the right key. LOL It just feels off. But I'll often go ahead and play it out in the "wrong" key just for shits and giggles. This can be very interesting and challenging for pieces that have unconventional chord changes.

Wait, I'm not a teacher. What am I doing here? blush
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#1243125 - 08/04/09 07:56 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: jscomposer]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5966
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: jscomposer
Wait, I'm not a teacher. What am I doing here? blush
Contributing to the total sum of knowledge smile
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#1243144 - 08/04/09 09:06 AM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Devane]
Minaku Offline
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Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Devane
The time I spend on scientific subjects is astonishing. I can hardly be bothered to comment on the pieces I'm working on at the moment. frown Maybe by next year.

Whether or not Japanese is classified as tonal or not in the strictest sense, does it disqualify it from being an environmental factor? I’m go with “no” for Japanese based on your clarification but Chinese is hard to knock. I just follow the figures but I have problems as to why tonal languages have an effect. Seeing figures is one thing but an explanation would be handy.

Do the tonal languages use octaves in their languages to communicate?

I've always had this question concerning me about tonal language value. The articles I've read routinely show an advantage. With AP (genuine) you can perceive octaves based on any individual frequency (without using RP). So knowing this, my question is "are there octaves present in tonal languages?" The answer should be "no" because otherwise it would be well documented about a sizable percentage of Chinese people who have problems with their own language. So how do tonal languages make a difference?

The octave becomes a feature of language from "music exposure" but I don't see how one can get it from a tonal language if it doesn't contain octaves. I've never found an answer to this.


I'm assuming you haven't spoken, tried to learn, or speak a tonal language. The inflection of the tones has direct bearing on the meaning of what you're trying to say. In order to both speak and listen one has to have the ability to discern what tones are being used. We don't all sound like textbooks when we speak the language, so that skill has to be very honed in order to function in daily life. In English, we have homonyms that depend solely on context to be understood, like I vs. eye. In Mandarin, those homonyms depend solely on tone (straight (1), rising (2), falling then rising (3), falling sharply (4), and staccato (5)) and not context. It's like if I said I! followed by I? except that you'd understand I! to mean something and I? to mean something completely and totally different.

There's an old Chinese phrase that goes, "Ma ma ma ma ma?" which translates to, "Did mother scold the horse yet?" When typed phonetically in English it means nothing. With pinyin, the mostly-standardized Romanization of Mandarin Chinese, it comes out to, "Ma(1) ma(1) ma(2) ma(3) ma(5)?" I can think of another phrase that would elicit confusion from non-Mandarin speakers off the top of my head: "Baba ba(3) bao(3) bei(2) bao(2) ba(5)." (Daddy shall carry the baby.) This is the difference between a completely tonal language and a "semi-tonal" (what) language. If Mandarin hurts the brain, try Cantonese, there are like, 7 tones there and it drives me crazy to try to get them all. I can't even hear some of them.

Quote:
The article you stated I couldn't read when you posted because I had to sign up and pay? I've just read an article now about it.
http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/07/why_do_more_asians_have_perfec.php

It does indeed standardise the environment by comparing students from the same place but with language backgrounds. I was liking it and hoping for a debunk/new angle until I realised it was testing “pitch memory” based on Levitin's pitch memory study and not whether they had genuine AP where you can perceive pitch chroma. Pitch memory is available to all. It proves people don’t have problems with memorising pitches. It doesn’t disprove the tonal factor here I’m afraid as this is about pitch memory and not about how someone perceive notes.


They were operating on the idea that AP is dependent on two factors, pitch naming and pitch memory. Pitch naming is arbitrary depending on what you learn as what pitch, but pitch memory on the other hand can be tested independently, which is what Drs. Schellenberg and Trehub have done. Also, since they wanted to get a bunch of kids with and without musical training, they wouldn't have been able to test for pitch naming.

Pitch chroma is not something that is associated with AP. I'm surprised you've brought it up, as it seems more synaesthetic to me. I've asked some friends who have AP with a just noticeable difference threshold of 2 cents how they know what is what, and they've just said, "I know." There is no color difference, timbre difference, feeling difference, they can just hear it. Now, if they'd told me, "C feels lighter than Ab, but D is a lot brighter and I can always tell G because it's prickly," then I'd suspect a bit of synaesthesia coupled with personal experience. For example, the flat keys are always darker and more mellow to me because of the feelings I've experienced while playing certain pieces in those keys.

As an interesting aside, part of the reason why one of my friends has the ability to hear the smallest humanly discernible change in frequency is because he took a microtonal music course, allowing him to take his AP and develop it further.

Quote:
I've always seen music exposure as being the prime factor but it may not be only factor. It is clear you must have music exposure at the critical stage but they are other factors.

I myself have AP without a tonal language or "early training". I started on recently in my 30's. But I craved music as a baby and was practically glued to the radio during my childhood. So I don't think my situation debunks anything as I clearly had the primary factor. "Above average exposure" is a better term than "early training" but this lady's programme falls under both in this case.


As I've said before, not just in thread but in others, how one develops AP cannot currently be pinned down. It's not just early music exposure, it's not just music training or genetics or the ability to speak a tonal language. There are people with AP who are not musicians and have never learned an instrument in their lives, who don't speak a tonal language, who have no strong musical influence. I'm not even sure why people place so much value on it except as a means to make money or as a cool trick.

I've seen Suzuki-style classes where the fixed do system is implemented and repeated from day one. The kids learn do, mi, and sol immediately, sing them all the time, and eventually they will remember what's what. Fixed do is a great way to teach relative pitch. If these kids you're talking about have to go through a program in order to learn AP, well... you know what I'm getting at.

Quote:
I've been playing that song since day one. Discussing the data of the papers is one thing but if the person you are discussing the subject with only has their own take on the subject based on no research and it making up their own definitions, it can get ugly.

Ad-hoc/fuzzy definitions giving virtually everything the name "perfect pitch" is confusing. The result of this is people claiming to disprove 100's of neurological/linguistic papers with their stories but what they are doing is just labeling an array of skills as AP.
"My Ap is...." fill in own definition here.

They know nothing about the properties of an octave , "pitch class" or "critical stage in language development" etc and cannot separate perception from memory.

I'm sure some have taken offense when I've said they have "pseudo-AP" as if AP had something to do with their musical skill. The studies are there to find out the answer as to why some people don't lose AP. The pool of people involved just happen to be musicians but this isn't a test of musicality.

Go to the ABRSM for that! cool


There is no standardized definition for perfect pitch, so people are free to use what they want. I will concede that it's frustrating to be in one camp arguing with impassioned people from the other camp.
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#1243282 - 08/04/09 01:10 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Minaku]
MiM Offline
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Registered: 07/09/09
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Great input Minaku.
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#1243291 - 08/04/09 01:21 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Minaku]
keystring Offline
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Minaku, that is fascinating. Is this aspect of your language relative or absolute pitch? In other words, would the one "ma" be a semitone, quarter tone, or some fraction of a tone higher/lower than the other "ma"? Or does the "ma" have to be A40 (arbitrary, of course), and another "ma" be another specified pitch?

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#1243318 - 08/04/09 01:58 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: barnaby]
williamhay.co.uk Offline
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Loc: Chester, UK
I have to agree with you Barnaby, in my experience the skill of perfect pitch has a lot to do with singing and general musicality from an early age. I first realised I had it when I was about 10 and my mother who was teaching my piano at the time noticed it as she was preparing aural tests for my grade exams.

I can recall being able to accurately remember and reproduce middle C from singing in the local church choir at the age of about 7 or 8 though I just assumed this was something everyone could do when they learned to sing.

It developed from there to being able to name any note without reference to another.

It can be a pain working with 'out of tune' instruments but two years as a lay clerk singing with an organ tuned to A446 at Peterborough Cathedral helped train me to adjust or transpose accordingly to the most suitable pitch for the choir.

Numerous years since training amateur and school choirs have trained me to 'switch off' if the pitch is microtonally misplaced,
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#1243338 - 08/04/09 02:21 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Minaku]
Devane Offline
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Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: Minaku

"As an interesting aside, part of the reason why one of my friends has the ability to hear the smallest humanly discernible change in frequency is because he took a microtonal music course, allowing him to take his AP and develop it further."

A similar point is made is Sach's article.
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/alumni/Magazine/Fall2007/PitchPerfectMatch.html
But when acknowledgment of training isn't mentioned it makes for messy discussions.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

I'm assuming you haven't spoken, tried to learn, or speak a tonal language

Yes and no.
In my teens I practiced Wing Chun. Cantonese being the associated language. The moves have Chinese names regardless of what country you learn this (the pronunciation would be London-centric) but words aren't language. I have trained and followed a few instructions in Chinese but again hardly significant when its a few words.
I tried to find night-class for Cantonese but classes always fell through (even Italian). I knew a few fellow Kung-Fu students who have trained in Hong Kong but the level of their Chinese wasn't mentioned. I was told it is next to impossible to learn after a certain age, especially reading it.

I am intrigued though to see how hard it is. I share a house with a girl from Beijing. All I've bothered I learn so far from her is the pronunciation of "Lang Lang" as the words are distinctly different.

The "Clang Clang/Bang Bang" pun I keep seeing here doesn't translate into Chinese. smirk

An experiment most likely to be futile but still interesting.

As much as I'd like to cancel out the tonal language factor I can't see it yet as their experiment was a memory issue and not about how one perceives. They are very different studies. Regardless of my own reservations I can see why AP could be associated with tonal language but Chizuko Ozawa's programme could over-rule it regardless. They should be comparing people from the same school anyway.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

Pitch chroma is not something that is associated with AP.


It is an essential part of every AP paper. It separates perception from memory. The very fact that a pitch has a chroma (a property based on it's frequency) means you can group all A's or B's as similar. It doesn't matter what "Concert pitch A" is. As long as you have octaves you can group them. If you can't perceive chroma, well you have a lot of memorising to do, in that case "memory" is what is being tested then not how ones perceives.
For me its a case of associating 12 tones to name every note on the piano. Hardly amazing.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

I'm surprised you've brought it up, as it seems more synaesthetic to me.


Oh no, it has nothing to do with Synthesia. Though it not surprising it comes up. Mentioning a note has a chroma does not mean you can see colours when you hear a note. Even the comments about Chizuko Ozawa's article went down that alley. wink

raywalsh34 wrote:
"I'm curious about how the flags' colors were chosen, having heard stories in the past about the condition called synesthesia. I understand that to those who have synesthesia, sounds, especially musical chords, can be experienced as having their own colors."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/26/AR2009072602350_Comments.html

Yeah, you will hear touchy feely adjectives very much in the style of someone with Synthesia. "B" tastes like strawberries, "E" feels like sadness, your name is Red etc. These are the words of someone with Synthesia. The definitions are inconsistent anyway. Ask another person and your name is Green?????? They are the ones who can't agree.

A's sound like A's etc no matter wherever it is on the piano. The reason is hardly mysterious. 220,440,880 etc. No adjectives needed unless G-like or B-ish are valid words.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

As I've said before, not just in thread but in others, how one develops AP cannot currently be pinned down. It's not just early music exposure, it's not just music training or genetics or the ability to speak a tonal language. There are people with AP who are not musicians and have never learned an instrument in their lives, who don't speak a tonal language, who have no strong musical influence.


It seems to be largely an environmental issue but with conditions. But measuring a precise value of an environmental factor is hard to measure. That's why they test of large groups of people. But now you have DNA and brain scans too. The intervention factor creates another group of people too. I wouldn't want to draw a Venn diagram for this.

If only we were robots. We could just look at the line of code and check you variables and constants. Or check what operating systems you run on.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

I will concede that it's frustrating to be in one camp arguing with impassioned people from the other camp.


We are going to have to agree to disagree on some of our interpretations on certain aspects but it is a pleasure nevertheless. That is what science is.

Wait until the genetic factor has been covered properly. It could explain failure rates.

But when you have to people thinking the critical period is irrelevant and they haven't read a single paper on the subject, you haven't got anything to discuss.

Originally Posted By: Minaku

I'm not even sure why people place so much value on it except as a means to make money or as a cool trick.

A cool trick? I'll save it for the next time I go blank while playing a piece for somebody. wink

Yes, AP studies are about neurology but AP sites are about money. AP is a business. Have you seen the front pages of these sites? Mozart and Hendrix were great because of perfect pitch? Apparently.
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#1243381 - 08/04/09 03:05 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: jscomposer]
Devane Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 403
Loc: Ireland
Originally Posted By: jscomposer


Wait, I'm not a teacher. What am I doing here? blush


This subject barely intersects with musical matters so we're immune this time. cool

Originally Posted By: Gary D.

I can't do that. I am totally disoriented when a DP is set to another key. I can still read music, but I can't find anything. That would seem to mean that my sense of "absolute pitch" is a wee bit stronger than yours. Is it an advantage?


I'm afraid anybody with a memory will be prone to this. Our memory for pitch is fine with or without AP. If a different note is playing against what you are expecting, of course there will be distractions.

How get over it? Be a good sight-reader with a bad memory?
I'm sure tolerance varies.



Originally Posted By: keystring
Minaku, that is fascinating. Is this aspect of your language relative or absolute pitch? In other words, would the one "ma" be a semitone, quarter tone, or some fraction of a tone higher/lower than the other "ma"? Or does the "ma" have to be A40 (arbitrary, of course), and another "ma" be another specified pitch?


This is exactly what info I want. To get the exact facts and figures on the tones used. I'm sure somebody has done this. Otherwise it's benefit isn't clear.

Anyway I'm out for a while. I've done enough a month or two. Another thread will pop up by then.


Edited by Devane (08/04/09 03:16 PM)
Edit Reason: added another quote
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#1243502 - 08/04/09 05:20 PM Re: A Way to "Teach" Perfect Pitch? [Re: Devane]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
Originally Posted By: Devane


Yes, AP studies are about neurology but AP sites are about money. AP is a business.



Best simple sum-up of one of the main drivers behind the continuing debate I've seen yet smile
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