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Developing Perfect Pitch


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Hey, does anyone here have perfect pitch?

 

I'm working on trying to learn it myself. So far all the courses I've found online are pretty sucky, so I'm trying it out myself. I build a quick program which makes example exercises, for example, making me guess which is the higher note from two or three notes or playing three notes together and trying to pick the middle one.

 

But I'm not sure if this is the best way to begin learning. Does anyone have any pointers? I think it'd be a great skill to improve my music writing.

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I'm with Tom on this.

 

Contrary to what salesman may be pitching perfect or absolute pitch is something you are born with. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch

 

 


Absolute pitch is not a prerequisite for skilled musical performance or composition. Studies have shown both positive and negative impacts of AP on musically skilled tasks: musicians with absolute pitch tended to perform better on transcription when compared to musicians with similar onset and duration of musical training,[72] but musicians with absolute pitch also showed poorer abilities at recognizing musical intervals (for some reference notes other than C).[73] No test yet exists for comprehensively and objectively measuring the influence of absolute pitch ability on musicianship.

Owing to uncertainty in the historical record, it is often impossible to determine whether notable composers and musicians had absolute pitch. Since absolute pitch is rare in European musical culture,[44] claims that any particular musician possessed it are difficult to evaluate. Among composers of the Baroque and Classical eras, evidence is available only for Mozart, who is documented to have demonstrated the ability at age 3.[74] Experts have only surmised that Beethoven had it, as indicated from some excerpts from his letters. By the 19th century, it became more common for the presence of absolute pitch to be recorded, identifying the ability to be present in musicians such as Camille Saint-Saëns and John Philip Sousa.[75]

 

I'll be honest I took that perfect pitch course that's advertised everywhere.  It's really just something to occupy your mind while you actually are developing relative pitch.

 

Perfect pitch even relative pitch will not make you a better musician. I've played with professonal transcribers before and some are okay but not great and some are less then okay (usually a timing issue)

 

Relative pitch is best achieved by singing what you practice.  Play a scale slowly.  Sing and play the scale together. Sing the note without any support and test how close you are by playing the note after you sing it.  Repeat the process using different scales and scale patterns.  Don't be consumed by endlessly singing scales.

 

 

The guys who are best at relative pitch I know always,,,always practice with an acoustic guitar.  The back sides and the top of the guitar vibrate.  The sympathetic vibration against ones body makes it eaiser to reach the those tones.

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No HS,

 

This is the widest agreed definition of what perfect pitch is:

 


Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of an external reference.[1]

Correct identification of the pitch need not be expressed linguistically; AP can also be demonstrated in auditory imagery or sensorimotor responses, for example by reproducing on an instrument a tone that has been heard (without "hunting" for the correct pitch).[2][3]

Possessors of absolute pitch have it in varying degrees. Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities, in the absence an external standard:[4]

  • Identify by name individual pitches (e.g. A, B, C♯) played on various instruments
  • Name the key of a given piece of tonal music just by listening (without reference to an external tone)
  • Recall the key of a recorded piece of tonal music without external reference.
  • Identify and name all the tones of a given chord or other tonal mass
  • #### Accurately sing a named pitch without an external reference  #####
  • Name the pitches of common everyday sounds such as car horns and alarms
  • Singing or recalling a piece of music in the correct key several days or weeks after last hearing it

 

 

I used to believe I could acheive perfect pitch. And I knew some people who thought I had perfect pitch.  The truth of the matter is while some fair better with relative pitch then others.  You are either born with perfect pitch or not.  Ear training helps you to develop relative pitch but not absolute pitch.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My relative pitch was pretty good. I could also always find 'E' on demand. That was useful for tuning a guitar.

 

Then my pitch abilities were wiped out due to an odd 'association'.

 

It is still rebuilding now. I can no longer hear 'E' in my mind, but can accurately recall (sing) the key I was working on the day before.

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the notes in a scale are lets  say set at the pitch they are through people agreeing thats what they would be set at  they could quiet as easly decide to have them a semitone less or higher or just any micro  different   so having perfect pitch is just about  being born with the same mind set as the tones that are used   what music is really about is hearing the intervals between notes and making music out of them Az09 

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The benchmark for pitch could have been 'almost' anything. That is, a small variation in Hz.

 

Once the Hz is established though, all other notes are relative. In fact a change did occur in JS Bach's time, and intervals were averaged out for the keyboards of that time.

 

We have inherited that 'averaging out' ever since.

 

Perfect pitch may be an ability that people are born with, but they still have to learn the scales once they are born. Otherwise we would have pre and post baroque perfect pitch.

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the notes in a scale are lets  say set at the pitch they are through people agreeing thats what they would be set at  they could quiet as easly decide to have them a semitone less or higher or just any micro  different   so having perfect pitch is just about  being born with the same mind set as the tones that are used   what music is really about is hearing the intervals between notes and making music out of them Az09 

 

I disagree with this one.  Perfect pitch means being able to sing any note on demand in any key and having it measured against a tuner for accuracy.   And be able to identify any note regardless of the instrument used to produce it.  This gets tricky using relative pitch especially when different intonation methods are used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_intonation

 

 

 

For those who use relative pitch different tuning methods greatly affect timbre which affect perception. Using a capo for example brightens the tone even if tuned to A440 or detuning slackens strings resulting in a darker tonality.

 

With relative pitch you have to think a little bit about where you are.  Perfect pitch also means you'd never need sheet music and can recall entire songs for performance by memory (aside from timing).  Those I've known with perfect pitch and, usually aren't the greatest theorists because they don't need theory to guide them. There are also different standards of tuning. not just @A440 and not only even temperment.

 

In jazz it's common to transpose a song to fit the nature of the singer or even test one's skills.  A common practice when cutting head is to change the key to see how well someone can transpose on the fly.  However they always call off the key before the song begins. If you know the key and can cut the mustard you should be able to play through the passages.

 

 

Re finding open E.  A buddy of mine who was a keyboard player taught me this trick without knowing.  He would use relative pitch and his memory of playing songs to figure out what chords a given song was using. As a result I'd try to imagine Day Tripper by the beatles when I didn't have a tuner available.  If I could hold that first open E note in my mind I could tune to it.  Generally I'd always be a few cents flat but it would be close enough If It was just me and the guitar.  As I sing a few cents flat it's always a reminder for me to tune the guitar using a tuner.

 

I find that I have to sing scales relatively often or my ability to figure out what key a song is in goes away quickly.  As well it can be rather embarassing when trying to teach someone when you may have relative pitch but it doesn't translate to your voice well without practicing singing (at least for me)

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I thought it was the ability to throw a curve or a fastball that made three batters strike out, nine times!

 

Way to take an interesting thread and make your silly jokes on it... just like I was going to do until I got down to your post. :)

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I was wrong.  I had assumed that very few were born with absolute/perfect pitch and the rest of us were limited to only relative pitch. 

 

 

New studies prove that there is no such thing as perfect pitch.

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/06/11/0956797612473310.abstract

 

So the most one can do is work out ear training to develop relative pitch.

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I was wrong.  I had assumed that very few were born with absolute/perfect pitch and the rest of us were limited to only relative pitch. 

 

 

New studies prove that there is no such thing as perfect pitch.

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/06/11/0956797612473310.abstract

 

So the most one can do is work out ear training to develop relative pitch.

 

Very nice to see this. It bears out the pre/post baroque assersion I made earlier.

 

This makes people with AP no less impressive to me though.

 

Thanks for posting Mike.

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Hi Gang

 

Born with a high degree of accuracy in pitch perception I can accept, but you cannot be born with a knowledge of note names or keys.

 

There are two aspects here for me:

 

Relative pitch perception you can be naturally good at, but naturally good or not it can be greatly improved with training.

 

Absolute pitch perception requires excellent pitch perception skills, accurate memory of pitch which in turn needs experience of that pitch, and to recall pitch based on a name requires knowledge too. In other words to be born with this is impossible.

 

Both relative and absolute pitch perception is further complicated (and needs more training to master) by the introduction of harmony.

 

Recognizing pitch is one thing, retaining it is very different. That is why exercises focus on different pitches spaced in time, and in different pitches contained within a chord. When you get really good you can go further with training on relative and absolute pitch perception by going beyond the semi-tone increments of pitch as we geberally understand them. This is an exercise for example that those who play string instruments get more practice at as their instrument does it naturally (think of tuning). With an oscillator you can go even further again by working with exact pitch increments down to differences of 1Hz - though realistically I doubt someone could spot a 1Hz difference when up in the KHz range!

 

Similarly with singing an absolute pitch you need absolute pitch perception PLUS experience of accurate pitch recreation using a mechanical system that takes practice to master... that of singing firstly accurate in terms of relative pitch and then as you develop absolute pitch perception you parallel that with  mastering pitch control with your voice. Yet again it's not something you can be born with, but it is something that you can be fast and naturally good at learning.

 

For myself, my relative pitch perception is excellent and my absolute pitch perception is very good. When I am practiced at singing (ie singing a lot) I am pretty good at recreating absolute pitch. But I don't view it as perfect pitch, despite the fact that I've pretty well had these skills/abilities since I was 4 years old at least (before that I wasn't tested for absolute/perfect pitch as it was then called).

 

Just as a light aside, years ago I was in the studio with a bunch of musicians recording some tracks. During the break the keyboard player farted, low and rumbling, loud and about 1 second long. Almost instantly I said "oo just sharp of C# 2 below middle C. That's nasty." Everyone laughed. Someone choked on a bite of their lunch. A minute later the bass player, James called out that I was bang on with the pitch (luckily he had a 5 string bass to hand to check!) and more laughing ensued as they digested the fact that I had correctly called the pitch of someone's fart. Not a fantastic skill, I grant you, but mildly entertaining at parties. lol

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I'm working on trying to learn it myself. So far all the courses I've found online are pretty sucky, so I'm trying it out myself. I build a quick program which makes example exercises, for example, making me guess which is the higher note from two or three notes or playing three notes together and trying to pick the middle one.

 

But I'm not sure if this is the best way to begin learning. Does anyone have any pointers? I think it'd be a great skill to improve my music writing.

I think what you really wanna do ---as I believe some of the others here have pointed out--- is to learn RELATIVE pitch. You can use your memory of famous songs to learn the intervals. Look here:

 

http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/theory/resources/macgamut_theory/songs_interval_recognize.html

 

As to the question of it aiding your songwriting? Hmmm... Well, it can't hurt to know "stuff", but I don't really think it plays any significant part in creating melodies. You'd probably benefit more just from exposing yourself to great melodies in general, than learning the intervals used in their melodies. At the very least, though, I think learning intervals can be a fun exercise.

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