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#2174595 - 10/31/13 12:14 AM What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible?
Roadeyeland Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/23/11
Posts: 3
There are so many people out there with a billion different levels of relative pitch, some are supposedly masters, some can only recognize some intervals and arpeggios, and some struggle with the difference between major thirds and minor thirds.

Do people ever finish ear training? as students we get this power-hungry idea in our heads that if we practice every day for 4 years we will be able to recognize any chord progression possible, and every crazy arpeggio atonal melody, we will have amazing workflow because of it, and infinite inspiration as well. Anyone who reaches it is like a god in my mind, a completely enlightened monk of music

however,
I've been banging my head against the wall with this stuff for 2 years, i don't think the mastery i envisioned is possible in one lifetime, i sing 45-60 minutes a day and still have yet to recognize anything from a song on the radio or something practical like that.

-Is it actually actually possible for older people to learn relative pitch in 4 years of 60 minutes a day? has anyone met one?
-Can it be learned from direct repetition via singing? or do you need to be a virutoso instrumentalist? (My only instrument is computer, for dance music)
- I use this thing as an outline http://www.perfectpitch.com/relativepitch.htm, but its sketchy because they also sell a "perfect pitch course" which is a complete scam because its impossible.

Thanks for any advice!

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#2174623 - 10/31/13 01:09 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Yes I think anyone can develop their relative pitch. Think of it like a map of a city. If you've ever been lost and suddenly said to yourself "Oh, I know where I am now" it's like that. Understanding the musical map is relative pitch. I do think it would be hard to do without some instrument as a reference. Since this is a piano forum, I'll say that I believe that the linear nature of the piano lends itself to this idea a little better than other instruments.

Basically relative pitch is the ability to play one note and then hear all of the other notes in relation to that one note. Intervals are important, but I think I'd start out with a scale. If you have a piano or keyboard, play a C scale (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C). Then play it again, but try to sing each note BEFORE you play it. When you get good at that, try to do the same exercise with bigger jumps. If you play a C, can you sing an E before playing it?

You have to keep it simple in the beginning, but it's definitely possible to learn to hear a note before it's played. It's the only way singers are able to sight read. When there's no key to press, you just have to know what the note sounds like.

By the way, I've developed my relative pitch for years. I'm trying to see how close to perfect I can get. I'll often start the day by guessing a pitch before hearing anything. Some days I'm dead on, but others I'm a note or 2 off (sometimes even worse). So I'd also argue that acquiring perfect pitch is an impossible goal (though I plan to keep trying).
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BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
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#2174628 - 10/31/13 01:16 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
Brian Lucas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 961
Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
and every crazy arpeggio atonal melody
Also, I took an atonal ear training course in college where you simply have to know the distance of every interval. It's incredibly difficult and not really for a beginner. It'll be much easier to hear a note in context, especially since most music will have a tonal quality to it. After you learn your C scale, if you play a D scale, you'll notice how it's easier to identify the notes by their relationship to each other, even though they are different notes.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
My Downloadable Video Piano Lessons
My Sight Reading eBook
My Music

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#2174634 - 10/31/13 01:28 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Brian Lucas]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1264
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:
. . .

however,
I've been banging my head against the wall with this stuff for 2 years, i don't think the mastery i envisioned is possible in one lifetime, i sing 45-60 minutes a day and still have yet to recognize anything from a song on the radio or something practical like that.


I don't understand what you're saying.

If I play a C on the piano, and say to you:

. . . "Sing an "E" "

can you do that? And it comes out an "E" (or pretty close)?

If you can do that, you have a sense of "relative pitch".

If something is playing on the radio, can you identify the song _by its melody_, instead of by its words?

. . . what are you trying to "recognize" ?

. charles

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#2174660 - 10/31/13 03:39 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
Do people ever finish ear training?


The most accomplished music theorist (and thus possessing the best ear) I know could probably identify any progression by ear and can pick individual tones out of advanced harmonies and voicings. That said, he probably wouldn't ever say that he's "finished".


Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
i don't think the mastery i envisioned is possible in one lifetime


Just remember, Beethoven's final works were composed when he was completely deaf. Anything is possible if you work hard and smart enough.


Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
Is it actually actually possible for older people to learn relative pitch in 4 years of 60 minutes a day? has anyone met one?


I'm going to have to quote you here. Because "there are so many people out there with a billion different levels of relative pitch," it's impossible to know what level of relative pitch you'll be at by then. I recommend studying a great deal of music theory and listening to a wide variety of musical styles (especially classical, jazz, etc.). At any rate, you'll be nowhere near a "master" with your allotted time span, though you'll have made great strides along said path (assuming your practicing is productive).


Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
Can it be learned from direct repetition via singing? or do you need to be a virutoso instrumentalist?


The individuals I know with the best ears are also the best players (and improvisers) that I know. It's likely not a coincidence that by wishing to play - and improvise - at high levels, their ears are forced to improve (because they have to hear in their head what they want to play microseconds before they bring it out on the instruments). You should study jazz and non-classical music on the piano (the best instrument for making sense of theory) if you really want to improve your ear.

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#2174702 - 10/31/13 08:08 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland
-Is it actually actually possible for older people to learn relative pitch in 4 years of 60 minutes a day? has anyone met one?
-Can it be learned from direct repetition via singing? or do you need to be a virutoso instrumentalist? (My only instrument is computer, for dance music)


It is rare for older people to succeed, in my experience. But it is also rare for them to put in the sustained effort you are capable of. I think you can do it........but........

it is very unclear to me what "it" is in your case.

Do you want the ability to sightsing with a church choir?

Transcribe very dense atonal modern music at speed?

There's a whole range possible. Can you be more clear about what you want to do?

You don't need an instrument but it helps to have something to control tempo with. For example, one method of improving sightsinging is to sing a melody on the beat and play piano off the beat delayed.
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#2174712 - 10/31/13 08:54 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: TimR]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 196
Loc: USA
to be horribly honest, I don't believe I ever sang on pitch until I played an instrument. With the instrument came the tiny bit of theory, plus, one can simply stop on one note and zero in on it, if it takes a few seconds or several minutes, one can slide into pitch (voice). I would have never known, that for an old geezer, I have pretty good range. Singing to the radio or karaoke is mocking. That's why anybody can do it. What instrument is the easiest for a vocalist to learn? Just a guess, i'd say autoharp, chord organ or banjo. Also,the act of tuning an instrument gets one's ear familiar with matching pitches. That's a big step towards a relative sense of pitch.

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#2174752 - 10/31/13 10:32 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Farmerjones]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Farmerjones
to be horribly honest, I don't believe I ever sang on pitch until I played an instrument.


That's close to my experience.

In the choir I sing with now, and with all of them I can remember, there were plenty of singers who could stay on pitch well, if they have someone to follow, or have drilled the music by rote.

But I have yet to run into anyone who can sightsing confidently who does not play an instrument.

It should be possible. In fact learning to sightsing should enhance performance on most instruments. But in my experience it's the other way around.

Now, I play trombone as my primary. If I do not think the pitch first, it won't come out of the horn even if the slide is in the right place. Usually the slide needs some microadjustment anyway. So my singing should help my trombone. But the reverse seems to be true for most of us.

I don't have perfect pitch. I can't sing a G on command. But with sufficient situational cues I can produce a note. When I sit down in the morning for my half hour daily warmup before work, the first thing I do is buzz a Bb without the horn, then move the horn on. I am never more than a few cents off. BUT that only works with the trombone in my hand in a familiar space. Similarly I can hear a trombone and identify the notes, if the range is not too extreme, but I cannot do the same with a saxophone or guitar.
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#2174788 - 10/31/13 11:36 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Bobpickle]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
..... (because they have to hear in their head what they want to play microseconds before they bring it out on the instruments). ...

That, in a nutshell, is what I don't like about all these "ear training" courses. They are all passive, in that you don't produce pitches, you are supposed to recognize them and also to give them names. When I did get ear training, what I needed was my voice and a piano to check things. It did not cost me a penny.

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#2174789 - 10/31/13 11:37 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: TimR


It is rare for older people to succeed, in my experience. But it is also rare for them to put in the sustained effort you are capable of.

And it is also rare for them to be properly guided.

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#2174796 - 10/31/13 11:50 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
..... (because they have to hear in their head what they want to play microseconds before they bring it out on the instruments). ...

That, in a nutshell, is what I don't like about all these "ear training" courses. They are all passive, in that you don't produce pitches, you are supposed to recognize them and also to give them names. When I did get ear training, what I needed was my voice and a piano to check things. It did not cost me a penny.


I agree. I think you have to be active to improve. I think the process is "forced choice" guess in tempo with immediate check.

Example: look at a simple quarter note melody. Set a metronome fairly slowly. The tempo is not important but you must attempt to sing the pitch exactly on the beat. As you do so, play the note on the keyboard exactly one eighth note behind.

Two more things I think are worth doing: going through the Starer rhythms book or equivalent, and transcribing.
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#2174805 - 10/31/13 11:58 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Brian Lucas]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11659
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Yes I think anyone can develop their relative pitch. ...

Brian, apparently the quoted course is yours. I quickly glanced through it. A couple of thoughts.

I'm thinking that there may be more than one way of perceiving. For example, you describe relative pitch as being left brained intellectual, while perfect pitch (pitch recognition) as being intuitive and right brained. I'm thinking this comes from your subjective experience and your background. For me it is exactly the opposite. Relative pitch is intuitive. But my background began in childhood with movable Do solfege and singing. Everything in common practice type music was wrapped in this as a whole.

Meanwhile, when talking about relative pitch, is this in the context of notes heard or sung one after the other, or heard or played together? I think the difference is important. I can do the first very easily because of my background. But when, for example, a diminished chord is played, then as a whole, this chord has a colour or quality to it. Learning to hear this is a different training, and it is not necessarily linked to being able to sing a diminished chord or dim7, or recognizing it from the notes played separately one from the other.

I think there are a lot of aspects to hearing the elements of music. Maybe the more angles we pursue, the better.

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#2175077 - 10/31/13 11:01 PM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: keystring]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1022
Loc: Southern California
As an aside there was a scene from the free Yale music appreciation course, where the professor tests some of the students for absolute pitch. Most of the participants test poorly, even though some are lifelong musicians. The one exception is the student conductor in the group. His trick is to memorize the opening notes from more than a few pieces. He could often figure out a note upon hearing it, by matching the note to the start of a piece in his memory. Amazing stuff, and not for most mortals.

Conductors tend to have the best ears. Again, even the performance music majors did poorly on the absolute pitch test.

As for the question asked, almost all ears benefit from training. However, the years before 7 years old, are much more fertile than the later years for ear training or learning a spoken language. If an adult has already spent four years of an hour a day on one area of training, that person is likely near a point of diminishing returns. Where each small increment of improvement might mean another multiple of time and effort just to inch forward a bit.

The question becomes what the end goal is. If a person is competing against others for a job, for a slot at a school, it may well be worthwhile to double their efforts to make that next increment. For the hobbyist, the casual musician, I tend to vote nay. That said, everyone has different goals, different ideas about what is enjoyable, and each person decides what to do with their time. I might be assuming here, but a person asking the question may well be reaching a point of diminishing returns and questioning whether it continues to be worth the big push in that particular area. Each person can decide for himself/herself.


Edited by Sand Tiger (10/31/13 11:26 PM)
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#2175111 - 11/01/13 01:07 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3172
Loc: Maine
It might be the four years have been spent on doing the wrong thing. Discussions about how to improve relative pitch often seem to focus on a straightforward obvious approach to the subject. I am starting to think for myself at least that a sideways approach, coming at various musical skills indirectly, will be better.
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#2175139 - 11/01/13 03:33 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: PianoStudent88]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
It might be the four years have been spent on doing the wrong thing. Discussions about how to improve relative pitch often seem to focus on a straightforward obvious approach to the subject. I am starting to think for myself at least that a sideways approach, coming at various musical skills indirectly, will be better.


I think a good analogy here is running 5 kilometer races. While training to do so, you might think the best regimen would be to simply run several times a week, a 5 kilometer race. What this type of logic neglects, however, is the wide variety of accessory work required of a good runner - things like running hills, interval training, long-distance (i.e. well-beyond 5 kilometers) training, etc. There's likely no one perfect combination, but that being said, I guarantee you the best 5k runners are doing a little bit of everything and likely aren't tunnel-visioning on any one thing.

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#2175155 - 11/01/13 05:07 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3549
Loc: Northern England.
An interesting point is when you drive your car. When the engine is up to a certain pitch, you back off because, without looking, you know you`re travelling at a certain speed. A motor mechanic should have perfect pitch . . . .

I played at a church near where I lived; NOBODY sang in tune! The organ was no different . . . .Won`t mention the organist . .
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#2175170 - 11/01/13 06:29 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Sand Tiger]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2070
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger


Conductors tend to have the best ears. Again, even the performance music majors did poorly on the absolute pitch test.



Should be noted. Conductors can play all the instruments. They have heard each note from several instruments. Same goes for band directors.
Amazes me how much a person like this understands. How they understand the same note in each octave is in fact the same note. Just need to determine which octave. One of these people will say: "It's very simple". I say...sure it is. Doh!
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Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2175171 - 11/01/13 06:35 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: peterws]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2070
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: peterws
An interesting point is when you drive your car. When the engine is up to a certain pitch, you back off because, without looking, you know you`re travelling at a certain speed. A motor mechanic should have perfect pitch . . ..


This reminds me of a musical road set up by Honda. It's in Lancaster, Ca. Honda has a test track in Rosamond. So to be nice to the community. They set up this musical road. If you drive over it at a certain speed. It plays a song for you. The noise from the tires on rough lines across the road. They had to move this way out away from town. They had it closer. But it got clogged up with people playing the road too much. smile

Also, to agree. People to have better pitch recognition than they want to admit to themselves. They haven't bothered to train it in the slightest.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2175209 - 11/01/13 08:36 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 614
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Hi Roadeyeland,

I think the most important question here was asked by Charles Cohen: why are you investing that much time and energy into developing your ear? My advice would be to do more of that, whatever it is, and you will (eventually) get better at it.

But since I lack the context of knowing what your ultimate goal is, let me take myself as an example.

For me, I know I have decent relative pitch because I can accurately, and pretty easily, write down single-voice melodic lines that someone plays or sings to me, provided that I've been told what note they start on. This is something we practice weekly in music theory lessons, and some people just seem to be better at it than others. But I believe people's level of ease with this is a function of the amount of music they have been exposed to (and *consciously* listened to), more than it is a function of innate ability. And everyone does seem to get better at it with practice, no matter what baseline they are starting from.

I'm not the first person on the thread to say this, but keep it simple at first: try to do music dictations with only three or four different notes in them. Then, as you get better, expand into an entire major or minor key scale, and when you've got that down, add harmonic and melodic modes (with their corresponding added accidentals), then modulations. Once you can comfortably write down single-line melodic progressions within the tonal system, regardless of key or mode, you should have the tools to start hearing intervals in atonal music.

Doing lots of melodic dictations like this will help you start to hear specific intervals more easily when singing, too -- which means it should get easier to hear a note before you sing it. But if that's hard for you right now, you can train your melodic memory in addition to training your pitch recognition. Melodic memory is not about generating a tone independently (i.e., hearing it in your mind before any external reference has guided you towards it). Instead, it's simply about remembering (and then imitating) something you've heard before.

In my experience, you can train both at once: have someone (or a recording) play you a single-voice melody. Listen to it as many times as you need in order to commit it to memory. Then sing it, and also write it down.

When you can do this reliably for single-voice music, find a simple piano arrangement of something easy that you might be vaguely familiar with (there's tons of that stuff on YouTube), and transcribe it. The advantage of doing this with a YouTube recording is that you can pause, go back, and play it over again as many times as you like. Then it just becomes a matter of picking out separate single-voice melodic lines, with or without stacked chords in them, and writing them down 'on top of each other'. If you have trouble picking out chords, start with the easier Bach stuff (Anna Magdalena's Notebook, for example). There are few, if any chords in that.

I should note that I have no teacher training to base this advice on. I'm just writing down what I know is working for me.

I should also note that I've been experiencing my relative pitch recognition abilities as more of a hindrance to my progress on the piano than as something that's helping me along. When I read a score, I 'hear' the music on the page, rather than actually identifying the notes it's composed of by name. This causes me major trouble when trying to play, because I was taught to think note names associated with piano keys, but I do not associate note names with notes on the page. They only have sounds, and because my inner hearing is relative, I can't even be sure that the sounds I hear truly represent the music as written: I might be hearing in a different key.

So if you ever want to learn to play the piano (which, given that you're here, I assume you probably do), I would caution you against trying to develop relative pitch recognition *too* much. The piano doesn't require you to know what a note is going to sound like before you play it. It only requires you to know which key a given note on the page is associated with. For (aspiring) pianists, it might be wise to focus on that first, and everything else later.

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#2175218 - 11/01/13 09:03 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Sand Tiger]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger

Conductors tend to have the best ears. Again, even the performance music majors did poorly on the absolute pitch test.



I read recently that performance majors do pretty well, if and only if they're allowed to hold their instrument during the test.
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#2175226 - 11/01/13 09:21 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: rnaple]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: rnaple
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger


Conductors tend to have the best ears. Again, even the performance music majors did poorly on the absolute pitch test.



Should be noted. Conductors can play all the instruments. They have heard each note from several instruments. Same goes for band directors.


Good point. Timbre has a huge influence on pitch recognition, and it's a learned skill.

Long ago we had an example in church that brought this home to me. There was no organist present and the pastor wanted to do an unfamiliar hymn. He picked it out one fingered on the organ in the correct key, then started singing it about a fourth higher. (and unsingably high - he was a high tenor infamous for starting a song too high for us) I turned to my daughter and said, "how is that even possible?" She is a superb singer, always in tune, and I thought she'd agree with my exasperation, but she said, "Daddy, I can't do it either. I can't get pitch from the organ."

I can, but there've been a few decades of practice. I've also played in bands and orchestras nearly 50 years, and I can match pitch to any instrument, but I can only recognize pitch for brass in the middle range.
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#2175240 - 11/01/13 09:47 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: TimR]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 614
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: TimR
He picked it out one fingered on the organ in the correct key, then started singing it about a fourth higher. (and unsingably high - he was a high tenor infamous for starting a song too high for us) I turned to my daughter and said, "how is that even possible?" She is a superb singer, always in tune, and I thought she'd agree with my exasperation, but she said, "Daddy, I can't do it either. I can't get pitch from the organ."


That's interesting. It never even occurred to me that someone who obviously has a good ear would not be able to match pitch, regardless of where the pitch comes from.

OP: can *you* match pitch? It seems to me that's an important skill to have for what you seem to want to do.

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#2175248 - 11/01/13 10:19 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1971
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
As folks before me commented perfect pitch is something you born with and relative pitch is what you can develop. Basically relative pitch is what you need as a musician for the most of time. I think you'd be tormented with our of pitch instruments all the time if you have it.

I'm amazed relatively how quickly one can gain relative pitch especially if you have an instrument that needs constant tuning. My hubby and I started viola and violin (respectively) six weeks ago. He had never done music and cannot sing. In tuning his instrument every day he already learnt what a whole step, half step and perfect step sound like. Well, of course, he has to. We never needed to tune piano and I suspect that's probably why many pianists in my college class (years ago), had problem with ear training stuff in the theory class. For the record, I was NOT a music major. I had music minor - thought it would an easy GPA booster but turned out it was a GPA reducer.
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#2175257 - 11/01/13 10:42 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
peterws Offline
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Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3549
Loc: Northern England.
Try this for fun. Switch on your piano. Now sing middle "C" or any note for that matter. Then see how close you were . . . . . (Did ya like the "switch on" bit?) smile
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#2175284 - 11/01/13 11:48 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
krzyzowski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/10
Posts: 108
Attempting to learn intervals from a piano is futile. Pianos since Beethoven are "equal temprament" tuned as in no 2 intervals are accurate.

Join a Barbershopper chorus; no pianos allowed. They can "bust a chord"!

Accapella singing is "just intonation" and will quickly get your brain to lock in the intervals.

A trained ear can easily hear a "piano" trained voice. Dead, flat.

Opera singers never sing in "equal temprament", that is why they sound "pure", as in "pure tuning". Kiri sounds incredible.

Many instruments are "tempered" to be able to play in all keys, but some are not; like the human voice, the first instrument.

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#2175437 - 11/01/13 03:58 PM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
wouter79 Offline
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Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3510
Originally Posted By: Roadeyeland


I've been banging my head against the wall with this stuff for 2 years, i don't think the mastery i envisioned is possible in one lifetime, i sing 45-60 minutes a day and still have yet to recognize anything from a song on the radio or something practical like that.

-Is it actually actually possible for older people to learn relative pitch in 4 years of 60 minutes a day? has anyone met one?


You sing? Can you just start singing a song by just starting on a note that sounds more or less ok but is a good amount off (so without checking the first note on the computer, tuning fork or whatever)? If so, that's relative pitch.

Quote:

-Can it be learned from direct repetition via singing? or do you need to be a virutoso instrumentalist? (My only instrument is computer, for dance music)

Well yes I suppose. If you can imitate someone singing who is not singing abolute pitch, or if you can imitate the singing on another pitch, that's relative pitch.

Isn't that how most of us sing anyway? We can all sing happy birthday starting on a random note (as long as it stays within our voice range)?
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#2175439 - 11/01/13 04:02 PM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
wouter79 Offline
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Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3510
@Saranoya,

Matching pitch is actually a lot harder than you think. Even getting their own voice onto a given pitch is pretty hard for many. Often they get a 5th or 3th below or above the given pitch.
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#2175460 - 11/01/13 04:45 PM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: wouter79]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Matching pitch is actually a lot harder than you think. Even getting their own voice onto a given pitch is pretty hard for many. Often they get a 5th or 3th below or above the given pitch.

Really! It's not just me??? Wow, I had thought I was singularly disabled in this regard.... laugh
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#2175763 - 11/02/13 04:01 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Saranoya]
Roadeyeland Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/23/11
Posts: 3
Originally Posted By: Saranoya

I think the most important question here was asked by Charles Cohen: why are you investing that much time and energy into developing your ear? My advice would be to do more of that, whatever it is, and you will (eventually) get better at it.


Hey everyone, thanks alot for all the feedback, really helpful stuff, what i would primarily use ear training for is recognizing melodies and chords in dance music (and improvising with the piano for fun as well). This song is a really good example of the kinda stuff i wish i could write down but can't right now without spending an hour or so guessing. There are about a dozen timbres in there so maybe that makes it tougher than normal?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahEVJqIv_Ok
The complex melody is at 50 seconds in smile

About what you said about eventually getting better at it... it makes a ton of sense because i don't really have any problems identifying the rhythms that are used in a tune because ive spent so much time looking at them visually on a computer screen. i just know what they are, perhaps it just takes alot longer to develop pitch and chord instincts because there are more possibilities there.

I really like the running analogy too,

it sounds like ear training is meant to be more of a supplementary activity alongside a primary musical focus, and not a means to an end in itself? like musical vitamins xD.

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#2175772 - 11/02/13 05:35 AM Re: What's having relative pitch really like? is it possible? [Re: Roadeyeland]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 614
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Hi Roadeyeland,

I listened to your example, and fifty seconds in, it isn't actually all that complex. I think it sounds that way to you because there are a lot of 'ornamental' notes around the main melody. If you make abstraction of those, it becomes a pretty simple thing.

I wasn't sure how else to explain this, so I wrote down a few measures to illustrate, starting at the 53 second mark:



I only listened twice, so I'm not sure this is 100% accurate, but you get the idea: cancel out the ornamentation, and it becomes a 'simple' melody.

These few measures are then repeated again verbatim, by the way, starting at 1:01.

If you feel overwhelmed by the 'many possibilities' in hearing notes (as opposed to hearing rhythms), think of it this way: all notes have several possible names. As an example, on the piano at least, Bb = A#, and A might also be written as Gx or Bbb (though neither of those happen all that often). But when it comes right down to it, there are really only 12 distinct possibilities: go ahead and count the number of keys on your piano, going up from middle C until you arrive at C again.

Sure, the number of possible combinations (meaning chords and stuff) is theoretically infinite. But at least in tonal music, there are boundaries even to that. And the real trick is in learning to hear individual notes, regardless of what else is going on around them. Picking out block chords, if you don't understand functions, might be too lofty a goal at first. But if you can learn to hear the individual notes those chords are composed of, it becomes simply a question of 'stacking' them when you write the music down. And like I said above: make abstraction of ornamentation!

It really isn't all that hard when you start to break it down wink.


Edited by Saranoya (11/02/13 06:10 AM)
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