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  1. #1

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    Hi everyone

    Lately I've gotten the impression that I have some sort of perfect pitch that is very very imperfect. From practicing so much it feels like my working memory can remember the sound of a guitar note or string and then I can adjust to the exact pitch. It has worked with db,eb,c,a,e so far will need to try it a little bit more. I always sing a wee bit on the flat side though. Anyone care to share some thoughts and experiences?

    I can't really identify pitches directly as such maybe guitar notes.

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  3. #2

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    I think it's a matter of practice and training. After years of teaching guitar students with most of the lessons beginning with tuning by ear I can hear pretty good if a string is sharp, flat or to pitch. On a good day I'd be able to restring a guitar and then tune it to pitch without using a tuner.
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  4. #3

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    It's a common thing - developing a limited form of absolute pitch based around the open strings of a stringed instrument. It's a known phenomenon...

    In a related vein - has anyone on the forum learned perfect pitch using one of those courses such as the Bruce arnold one?

  5. #4

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    Perfect pitch has several grades of shade and is one of the skills that require both nature and nurture (plenty of each) while its utility is controversial. Most people think there are no disadvantages imposed by it though some people think perfect pitched persons have a difficult time integrating into musical situations that are not "in tune" and feel irritated easily. The perfect place for a perfect pitched musician is a classical music setting or a jazz orchestra. Wednesday night, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra was in Chicago Symphony Hall. He introduced Chris Crenshaw (34) as a composer and trumpet player with perfect pitch and they played some of his compositions.

    This is one of Chris Crenshaw's compositions:

    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  6. #5

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    Probably via excessive playing and learning songs by ear, I developed over time something I like to call "imperfect pitch".
    Translated, I hear many things at pitch, often but not always. I am also capable of getting something wrong or just not
    being sure. Sometimes, my initial perception is off by a half step but a later chord or note will clarify and realign my previous assumption. I generally write out chord chart transcriptions without an instrument in hand.

    My skill developed with triadic and 7th chord music first because that was the music that I was dealing with.
    As I logged time practicing more extended and altered voicings, those sounds also entered my aural vocabulary.

    Memory, density and rapidly shifting terrain are all factors that can be more challenging.
    I guess I hear best material closer to what I have played.

  7. #6

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    I play harmonica as my first instrument. No tuning for me when I show up to a gig. I also play and build a variety of stringed instruments. More than once I have strung up , intonated then tuned newly built mandolins or guitars and then checked later with a tuner to find I had them tuned correctly or very close. It can be handy when doing a setup. I just guess at the pitch rather than fussing around with a tuner. I prefer using a tuning fork when tuning around the shop. Being around a variety of musical instruments helps us hear pitch rather than tone maybe?

  8. #7

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    What's the definition of perfect pitch?

    Chucking a banjo into a skip and getting it in first time

  9. #8

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    Btw I had a girlfriend with pitch. She got very annoyed at my stupid questions about pitch.

    Anyway the preferred term is apparently absolute pitch and it describes a spectrum of awareness:

    Absolute pitch - Wikipedia

    Anyway I know quite a few players with pitch. It seems to be more prevalent in the classical world.

    According to Bruce Arnold, it's more useful in classical music.

    Note that the wiki article states that there are no reported cases of someone learning perfect pitch, which rather raises the question of the effectiveness of the perfect pitch products sold on Arnold's site. I have met a researcher in the area who assured me that if pitch isn't in early childhood it cannot be developed.

    OTOH she also claimed all Russian professional musicians have pitch due to their education system, and that Hungarians do not for the same reason. I think this may be an exaggeration.

    Personally the Hungarian level of relative pitch musicianship would do me fine. Hungarian musicians are pretty scary good at this stuff (Kodaly)

    BUT - I do rate highly Bruce Arnold's relative pitch training products and approach, so.... maybe?
    Last edited by christianm77; 03-04-2017 at 10:24 AM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    What's the definition of perfect pitch?

    Chucking a banjo into a skip and getting it in first time
    Steve Martin will come after you :-)
    Last edited by medblues; 03-04-2017 at 11:50 AM.
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    It's a common thing - developing a limited form of absolute pitch based around the open strings of a stringed instrument. It's a known phenomenon...

    In a related vein - has anyone on the forum learned perfect pitch using one of those courses such as the Bruce arnold one?
    Yes, I have this-- I can sing an A on command, for example. I also come up a bit flat on the other "open string notes."

    More and more, I think developing good relative pitch is the key. Perfect pitch sounds like a bit of a curse. Especially if you ever listen to old Stones records.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. Beaumont View Post
    perfect pitch sounds like a bit of a curse. Especially if you ever listen to old stones records.
    lol!
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    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  13. #12

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    just nailed an a flat - wuhuuu

    found this little test, that isn't very helpful at all. Everything becomes relative after you've heard a pitch

    Perfect Pitch Ear Training Test

  14. #13

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    Some people think Lenny Tristano had Perfect Timing.

  15. #14

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    I have a simple cheat trick to know a note or key when I hear it.
    I sing the deepest note I can sing. That's usually a D or Db and I can use it as a reference point.

    I can have a deeper voice sometimes, but I will notice.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Btw I had a girlfriend with pitch. She got very annoyed at my stupid questions about pitch.

    Anyway the preferred term is apparently absolute pitch...
    Yeah, I had a girlfriend who was an absolute bitch, too, constantly annoyed at me little habits and (...finds me reading glasses...), oh, oh, it's Pitch.
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  17. #16

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    Like the Rick Beato vid's with his son, Dylan:




  18. #17
    I've been doing ear training a lot. When I still remember the last notes I've played, I can pretty much predict the sound of the next chord under my fingers. Not perfect enough to be usable yet. But one time something strange happened. I just had started the app and it played the 1st chord for me, and I looked at the fretboard and the shape of my own chord and KNEW the sound of it and that it was gonna sound exactly right.. Oh boy what an incredibly feeling when it turned out exactly that Hasn't happened again though. Maybe it was just a random thing. Gaaaah..

  19. #18

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    It's said that some players in the Basie band had perfect pitch and when they were on the road would play a game to identify, for example, the pitch of a train whistle going by. Benny Carter was known to have it. I most definitely don't but over the years have developed more of a sense of pitch valence. What I mean, is how close a note is to the absolute. That said, I would say that in some sense if I did have perfect pitch, it would probably drive me nuts being the obsessive that I am. Before today, when tuners are the norm, probably most popular music was slightly awry because tuning the piano was not always an option. I think the important consideration we face is relative pitch. It's how we find common ground when playing together.

  20. #19

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    I wouldn't doubt most of the players here have "advanced relative pitch", but it's not perfect pitch.


    i went to music school with a guy who had real PP. Everytime the guy walked by I would play a note, and immediately he would say the note, never got it wrong. No hesitation or thinking, it was just there, like a sixth sense.

    Oddly, he wasn't a practice 24/7 kinda guy, it was just something he seemed to be born with.

  21. #20

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    Jack Grassel wrote about perfect pitch. I found it interesting.

    Free Lessons and Sage Advice - Jack Grassel
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  22. #21

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    I´m still working on my relative pitch, but sometimes I hear a note in my head - go to the piano and without thinking of note names my Jedi finger can feel the right key. My hit ratio detecting drop D tuning is pretty good too.


  23. #22

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    There are over two dozen temperaments that have been used in the history of music, only a few still well known, with equal temperament the modern favorite (a recent standard, as is the A=440Hz which historically varied the better part of an octave).

    So, the naming of a note from a given pitch must be within the context of a concert pitch standard and a temperament. Both those necessities make the very definition of perfect pitch difficult. Which temperament would be real perfect pitch? Today, we would test with equal temperament, but what about back before that was invented?

    In equal temperament the chromatic pitches are 100 cents apart, meaning that each chromatic pitch has a +/-50 cent pitch range error not accounted when the pitch is named correctly but heard up to that same error, which is the size of a semitone interval.

    The closer you examine the assumptions of perfect pitch, the more improbable that anyone has really figured out a way to define and test for it, which is not to say no such possible thing exists.

  24. #23

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    I suspect what Absolute Pitch or "Perfect" Pitch really involves is a near-perfect memory of pitches and the ability to compare a pitch we're hearing with known pitches. So the naming of the pitches would be culturally conditioned, depending on how one's culture classified pitches. But the mental ability to take a heard pitch and compare it to a remembered pitch to which a label has been assigned seems to me to be, though quite remarkable, also completely believable.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  25. #24

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    My pseudo perfect pitch, along with my pseudo speed, is just what I needed to play pseudo jazz.

  26. #25
    My grandmother had perfect hearing. She didn't play or sing anything ever. The only effect it had to her was that whenever she listened live bands on TV, she heard that the instruments and singers were always out of tune.

    Also I know about a few people(some fellow students) who have that perfect pitch thing but didn't get too deep into musics. By itself, it seems to be not a musical ability at all.

  27. #26
    Hm. This got a bit more interesting now.


  28. #27

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    Lol. I have done this before on another Forum.

    Weird how everyone has a different definition for Perfect Pitch.

    I met a girl who had it - she was not a Musician she remarked that she took Piano Lessons before and had Perfect Pitch- I was in my late Teens I think- was there for Romantic Reasons lol.

    But the Perfect Pitch interested me - I tested her..she was annoyed by this- she could name any Note accurately within about 1/2 or MAYBE 2 seconds-

    Just like you or I could name different Colors or identify 2 digit numbers on a Flash Card !

    After a minute or 2 she was done- annoyed not into Piano or Music...and don't remember her being real into me either lol.
    I remember the Perfect Pitch more than the rest of the Encounter - haha - I don't think I ever went out with her again

    She had the type of perfect pitch that can* NOT be learned- once she heard the Notes and knew their names they were recognizable instantly-

    Just like you at one time learned the Color and name for the Color ' Blue ' you recognize it nearly instantly-
    you don't have to think ....red...yellow...orange...purple...- it' s Blue.

    I will not debate this...not worth it..it was pretty amazing ..she really had the gift though.

    I'd rather have what I have now because obviously
    Perfect Pitch does not mean someone can Play -

    She did not like to Play ...probably was made to take Piano Lessons when very young.

    But true Perfect Pitch is rare...if the Piano was tuned
    one Semitone off she would have called Bb an A ...

    *Not possible to learn- this could be wrong.
    Perhaps they were exposed to ( usually Piano ) at a young age and this heightened Sense of Recognition
    along with what the Notes are called develops ?

    Interesting Other Thought- I JUST remembered I tried to play a few simple chords to see if she could name each NOTE IN A CHORD- she was done, annoyed, and would not do it lol or talk about it any more !

    Even at that age I was thinking -" wow- If she could instantly hear each note in chords " and I was very untrained .

    The Old School thought on this was - "it's a gift you are born with "etc.

    So I was repeating that - and it could be wrong.

    Also - a lot of the Debate on that other Forum was how useful this would be for Guitar so legit conversation but ....
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 06-06-2017 at 08:54 AM.

  29. #28
    I think everybody has already agreed that perfect pitch is what it is and don't feel like debating.

    But the last part of the vid was interesting and new to me - that 0-3 years letting an infant to hear complex music instead children's songs could lead to perfect pitch and easy path to music later in life (if they'd like to of course). I wonder how successful this method actually is.

  30. #29

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    Last time I brought this up, it became a whole hullabaloo. This topic tends to bring out strong opinions, for whatever reason.

    I learned perfect pitch as an adult (early 20's). I studied privately with Alla Cohen in Boston, and that's all we worked on. She has a book on it, but I can't vouch as to whether it would be as effective as lessons. I also can't speak about Bruce Arnold's perfect pitch course (though he is a great teacher and his relative pitch courses are based off Charlie Banacos's approach).

    I'm not a researcher, so I can't speak about the science behind it. All I have is my personal experience to go by. And I can understand skepticism. Maybe I always "had it" and just needed some guidance to find it. Maybe I'm just a fluke. Regardless, I can do things I couldn't do before: identify pitches without a reference, sing any of the 12 pitches first thing in the morning, etc.

    I certainly don't think you need it to be a great musician, and inversely, I don't think everyone who has it is a great musician (I'm certainly not). I decided to try to learn it because I was interested in a lot of avant-garde composition and improvisation, and figured this was just more straightforward. But great relative pitch is more than enough.

    "Can I hear a piece of music and instantly transcribe it or play it back?" Not exactly.

    Take something fast and complex, like a Charlie Parker solo. If you were to stop it at any point, I could tell you what the note was. But to grasp the whole solo? No way. It's like if someone were to tell you a string of random numbers -- chances are, you won't be very good at recalling them. Counter-intuitively, something like Webern is MUCH easier for me to hear, even if the pitch relations are so abstract, because it's so sparse.

    Memory is a huge part of this. I seriously doubt that I have some "extra-sensory ability" -- only that I've managed to memorize what each of the 12 pitches sound like. So a post like this:

    There are over two dozen temperaments that have been used in the history of music, only a few still well known, with equal temperament the modern favorite (a recent standard, as is the A=440Hz which historically varied the better part of an octave).

    So, the naming of a note from a given pitch must be within the context of a concert pitch standard and a temperament. Both those necessities make the very definition of perfect pitch difficult. Which temperament would be real perfect pitch? Today, we would test with equal temperament, but what about back before that was invented?


    ...while I understand where they're coming from, I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding. Someone with perfect pitch, for whatever reason, managed to imprint in their memory what the note "A" sounds like. Today, that would be A=440. In different eras, it would be a different value. But the mechanism would be similar. Now, if that person also had exposure and experience with microtones, they might also be able to more precisely name them. Ali Akbar Khan could do that, and so could Lou Harrison. I don't have much experience with microtones, so I tend to characterize notes as "A, but somewhat flat" or "kind of halfway between A and Bb." I'm only comparing to what I have on file in my head.

    Although I'm not a researcher, I suspect that superb memory skills have a strong correlation to perfect pitch. You have guys like Pierre Boulez, who conducted entirely from memory, without a score in front of him. You have stories like the young Mozart transcribing an Allegri's Miserere from memory. But at the same time, I also wouldn't be surprised if Mozart would have more trouble with a Stravinsky or Schoenberg piece, something that he couldn't quickly categorize based on musical devices he was already familiar with. Who knows.

    Happy to answer any questions.

  31. #30

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    Yeah quarter tones are real artform in middle eastern music, very detailed on where a musician places their e half flat or whatever.

    With Mozart, yeah I think so. The music of his tune was constructed out of recognisable modules and patterns somewhat like bebop, say. Also the misere is super repetitious, so tbh I'm surprised it took him two listens. :-)

    But seriously music is a language, and sometimes you have to spell out unfamiliar words and names. The ones you use all the time you recognise at first glance.

    Afaik that's as true for someone with perfect pitch. Rick Beatos blog is good on this. His kid is great on polychords but not everyone with pitch has this capability. It has to be trained.

  32. #31

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    I recall seeing the perfect pitch course advertised for years. I recall also reading some posts from people who were pursuing it, but never a post of someone claiming that it worked for them.

    On a slightly related topic, my fingers have better relative pitch than the rest of my brain, or something.

    If you sing a melody, I can usually play it instantly without mistakes (well, not many) but if you asked me to name the notes it would take me much longer and I'd make more errors.

    I can deal with melody pretty well, but trying to hear chord changes has always been much more of a challenge. I can do it if it's simple enough. I've worked on it with a little bit of improvement in years of trying.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by yaclaus View Post
    Hi everyone

    Lately I've gotten the impression that I have some sort of perfect pitch that is very very imperfect. From practicing so much it feels like my working memory can remember the sound of a guitar note or string and then I can adjust to the exact pitch. It has worked with db,eb,c,a,e so far will need to try it a little bit more. I always sing a wee bit on the flat side though. Anyone care to share some thoughts and experiences?

    I can't really identify pitches directly as such maybe guitar notes.
    That is called "Levitin effect" aka "pitch memory":
    Levitin effect - Wikipedia

    You can indeed have that and not have perfect pitch at all, like myself.

    Cheers,

    Alex

  34. #33
    Hm, about 8 months have passed since my last post here with constant ear training. Now if I need to play a certain note fresh - just as the 1st thing after picking up the guitar, I can get very close to it on the fretboard. It's not gonna be anything like the real thing, but it does get better it seems. A few times I felt certain that the note there, that I was about to play, was the one what I heard in the mind. What a pleasant surprise. Btw, I have no interest or real time invested in this skill, just occasional curiosity


    edit: This went horribly wrong after writing this post. I take it back. I suck at the pitch thing forever and ever.
    Last edited by emanresu; 12-29-2017 at 09:35 PM.