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Topic: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?  (Read 4002 times)

Offline Plucesiar

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Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
on: June 09, 2004, 09:20:29 AM
I'm beginning to play jazz piano and I'm finding that the improvisational elements involved with jazz focuses heavily on the ability of perfect pitch and good coordination of the note you have in your head with the actual key to hit on the piano... in a way it's just sooo much harder than playing classical.  Does anyone have any methods of how to train the ear to develop perfect pitch, or at least develop it for better recognition of notes?  I know many people believe that perfect pitch comes with birth, but I know some people who developed it in their 10's and 20's.  I asked them how did they do it, and all they said was it was just natural... so yeah I'm like sorta desperate, so maybe someone has some tips in here?  And please, if you are going to start arguing about whether perfect pitch is attainable or not, why not go start another thread eh?   ::)

Thanks :D

Offline goalevan

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #1 on: June 09, 2004, 04:00:06 PM
You could try https://www.perfectpitch.com/ - David Lucas Burge's ear training course. He has a systematic way of developing perfect pitch that looks pretty good, I have it myself but haven't started doing the programs yet. I've listened to a few of the CD's already and it sounds pretty good, but again I can't tell you from experience if it works or not. Just an option for you.

Offline nerd

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #2 on: June 09, 2004, 04:33:07 PM
Quote
I'm beginning to play jazz piano and I'm finding that the improvisational elements involved with jazz focuses heavily on the ability of perfect pitch and good coordination of the note you have in your head with the actual key to hit on the piano...

I think it's more about chord progressions, scales, relative intervals and such. I can improvise (yeah, whatever ::)) but I do not have perfect pitch. Actually, even my relative pitch could be much better...
DDN 8)

Offline Saturn

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #3 on: June 09, 2004, 05:19:20 PM
I agree with you, nerd.  I don't really see how "perfect pitch" is necessary to improvisation.

Perfect pitch (absolute pitch) isn't magic.  It's just a skill you develop over time with the proper training of your ear.  You don't need a $140 cd course to teach you that; it should be a part of your music education.

I probably best trained my ear by playing the violin.  On the violin, you constantly have to use your ear in order to have correct intonation on each note.  You also have to be able to tune your instrument to a reference pitch, like A440.  So you're constantly training your sense of relative pitch.  Eventually, you get to the point that you can hear the A in your head, so you can tune your instrument without a reference pitch.  And that's when you gain some semblance of absolute pitch.  I guess pianists don't get this constant training because they have no control over the intonation of their notes, so they don't think about it.

- Saturn

Offline ThePhoenixEffect

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #4 on: June 09, 2004, 11:51:19 PM
Actually we do have control of the intonation.  It's called getting a digital piano.

It is always perfectly in tune and I guess if you actually work on your ear a little b it and only play on this digital piano (which in the end will make your technique go down if you don't know what you are doing...(I don't see how Bernhard can practice on one...) you will eventually get perfect pitch.

The key to perfect pitch is perfectly tuned instruments.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #5 on: June 10, 2004, 01:21:35 AM
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Actually we do have control of the intonation.  It's called getting a digital piano.

It is always perfectly in tune and I guess if you actually work on your ear a little b it and only play on this digital piano (which in the end will make your technique go down if you don't know what you are doing...(I don't see how Bernhard can practice on one...) you will eventually get perfect pitch.

The key to perfect pitch is perfectly tuned instruments.


I completely agree. Perfect tuning (which you can never achieve on a real piano) is the key to absolute pitch.

And although I practise on digital pianos, I don't practise only on digital pianos. I have acoustic pianos around as well. However digital pianos are great for late night and silent practice.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline Plucesiar

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #6 on: June 10, 2004, 07:37:19 AM
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I agree with you, nerd.  I don't really see how "perfect pitch" is necessary to improvisation.

I probably best trained my ear by playing the violin.  On the violin, you constantly have to use your ear in order to have correct intonation on each note.  You also have to be able to tune your instrument to a reference pitch, like A440.  So you're constantly training your sense of relative pitch.  Eventually, you get to the point that you can hear the A in your head, so you can tune your instrument without a reference pitch.  And that's when you gain some semblance of absolute pitch.  I guess pianists don't get this constant training because they have no control over the intonation of their notes, so they don't think about it.

- Saturn


Yeah I personally agree to that, because all the people I previously mentioned who had perfect pitch all played violin or some other kind of string instrument requiring constant tuning.

Goalevan I'm skeptical about that David Lucas Burge's perfect pitch training course, but it would be great to hear some feedback from you after you had achieved some progress.

As for perfect pitch dealing with improvisation, the reason why I find it extremely important is because everytime I sit down in front of the piano and start soloing, I can never accurately play the melody I have in my head. It's rather depressing when you have to play with a jazz combo and solo in front of an audience and you have to fudge around for the right key to start. I have moderately accurate relative pitch (still working very hard on that :D ) but perfect pitch would definitely help with just getting the melody on the first time.

Offline ted

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #7 on: June 10, 2004, 12:08:33 PM
I have to go against the grain here. It exists in around one in two hundred or so individuals, musicians or not, and requires two things - a peculiar frontal lobe formation and exposure to musical sound in early childhood. This is now known for certain and numerous articles and theses on it exist on the net.

It has no relevance to creative ability in music. Wagner lacked it, Schumann lacked it, Delius lacked it. It is one of those things like being able to multiply two twelve digit numbers together mentally or jump seven feet - rare, remarkable, useful in professional music - certainly, especially if coupled with strong short term recall -  but neither necessary nor sufficient for the playing or creation of piano music.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline Saturn

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #8 on: June 10, 2004, 02:17:38 PM
Quote
Actually we do have control of the intonation.  It's called getting a digital piano.

It is always perfectly in tune and I guess if you actually work on your ear a little b it and only play on this digital piano (which in the end will make your technique go down if you don't know what you are doing...(I don't see how Bernhard can practice on one...) you will eventually get perfect pitch.

The key to perfect pitch is perfectly tuned instruments.


This sounds logical, but are you sure it's true?

Absolute pitch seems largely to be a process of pattern recognition.  When someone with "perfect pitch" hears and learns the different pitches, their brain memorizes not just one frequency for each note, but a range of "acceptable" frequencies, so that any frequency within that range can be properly matched to the note.  When a pitch lies outside of those ranges, a person with perfect pitch would hear the pitch as out of tune.  However, they can still tell you which note the pitch is closest to.

Just like how we can always recognize the letter T, no matter what font is used, no matter the style of handwriting (unless the writing is especially messy).

Playing on instruments that are badly out of tune will definitely hurt your sense of pitch.  But, I don't see how playing on perfectly tuned instruments (digital) helps your sense of pitch recognition much more than playing on pretty accurately tuned instruments (acoustic pianos).  I may be wrong about this though, so please tell me if I am.

- Saturn

Offline StoreBrand

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #9 on: June 10, 2004, 07:25:49 PM
Ok, I'm going to put myself on a limb here (because I'm revealing my secret card that I don't want out yet) so I am going to quickly type without thinking.  Here:

1.  Do NOT make the mistake of focusing on one note (i.e. A).  I need to repeat this... DO NOT make the mistake of focusing on a single note such as A.  Maybe I should repeat this a third time!  DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE of focusing on one note such as A.  This would be like trying to see colors by focusing on the color blue--it's just not going to happen.  Imagine being able to see the color blue (as you can hear the pitch of an A) but, at the same time, not being able to see or being blind to the color of blue (i.e. being able to hear the sound of A but, at the same time, not knowing what the heck A is).  How in the world can focusing on this color of blue (A), no matter how long you stare at it, help you SEE in true color (i.e. ABCDEFG etc.) if you can not yet see in color?  It just doesn't make sense and it's NOT going to happen.  So throw the violinist "tune to A 440" thought deep into the trash can.  Do not bother trying it.

In fact, if you're going to focus on any single note DO NOT choose A.  F# would be the note to focus on.

2.  Completely ignore anything you've read about you having to be placed in music as a child.  Because not too many children have made it past baby food without hearing music anyway.  Besides, I believe I read that perfect pitch is more linguistic than musical--take the readings word for it.

3.  Get a box of crayons with 64 colors and associate all 12 notes on the keyboard with a unique color name of a crayon.  Don't skimp on this process (spend 10 hours over an entire week if necessary).  Make sure that these colors are unique and descriptive and that they actually remind you of the note (this is what will take you so many hours to do).  Do NOT skimp on this process.  Make absolutely sure that the color of the crayon at least vaguely reminds you of the note.  As you go up the piano, the colors get whiter (lighter) and as you go down the piano the colors get darker (more towards black).  Make absolute certain that the colors are unique from each other.  For example, I use the color maroon for D and the color navy blue for C.  As I said, as you go up the piano the colors get lighter or more transparent and as you go down the piano the colors get darker or more opaque.  If need be make the colors associations tentative and add descriptive textures to them over time.

If you want to know the colors that I use
C  navy blue
D  maroon
E  brown
F  orange
G  green
A  purple ...feminine purple
B  peach or nearly lava-like red or orange in color (as if the key is glowing hot underneath)

C# blue-green
D# gold
F# yellow
G# gray ...with a tad bit of purple
A# orangish brown ..like a dirty rug

4.  Spend at least 25 solid hours downloading, etc. searching through all of your favorite simple songs with powerful melodies.  The more songs from your childhood, the better.  Compile all of these songs into mp3 and/or midi format and make absolutely sure that they are all in one spot and easily accessible (as you will have to constantly go to them for reference).  Take the starting pitch of each of these songs (or the note that really gets you) and associate it with the note/pitch on your keyboard.  Make sure you have a huge list of songs and a lot of associations.  You should have so many songs associated to each note that you have to print the list on a sheet of paper. Stare at your piano/keyboard.  Each time you play a note mentally anchor it to the songs that you associated with the pitch.  Play them in your head.  Play each song associated with the pitch in your head and on the piano.  Do this ramdomly to.

You know when you listen to music and the melody gets to a part that gives you an orgasmic feeling?  Excellent, make sure you associate these notes to--they are best. Find out what these notes are for each song.  The color of the note plays a big part in giving you this feeling--this is what they are referring to when they say you can feel each note.

5.  Listen for the pitch of everything that you hear (from the sound of you typing, to the sound of water, car engines, etc.).  Listen as if you can hear the pitch (which you can't yet).  This should make it clear to you how not to use relative pitch. (It's pretty difficult to use relative pitch listening to..say a pot of boiling water).  Focus on every sound that you hear and learn not to use relative pitch.

If your relative pitch isn't fully developed (particularly related to how you visually see the relation on your keyboard) yet then this is a very very good thing.  Don't develop it.

6.  Begin singing the associated pitch (complete with it lyrics, timbre, etc.) and then play the note on your piano.  Anytime when you are not thinking of music sing one of these associated pitches and then run to your piano and play the note.  If you don't get close, see what note you did sing (or sang closest to).  Whatever note you sang (even if not the note you were trying to sing) remember to anchor the actual association with it.  Sing the real association.  Always correct yourself if you make a mistake.  And constantly refer back to your mp3/midi stockpile of songs for reference (I would surmise that tuning does not really matter as the tuning of the pitch in the opening melody of Flinestones is the same recording it has always been for all these decades).

Do this on as many pianos, synths, sounds, timbres, etc. as you can.  And don't forget your color associations either!

Oh, and another thing... If I ask you what is your singing range?   And you have to think before you answer as if you DO NOT know then you are going to have to develop this first.  You must know exactly what your singing range is before you even bother to attempt singing these notes otherwise you're going to cause yourself unnecessary trouble when you attemp aural recall (singing a note without a reference point) etc.

7.  Use a perfect pitch program to begin testing yourself.  Again, always correct yourself if you make a mistake.  I think the freeware program PitchPlayer is by far the best one.  In the meantime, test yourself at the piano.  Think of the associated pitch and press the key.  You'll know if your thought was close : )   Also test with your eyes close and have other people test you (randomly and spontaneously).

Also, when you practice, start off with just two or three notes.  And add the rest to the practice sessions as soon as possible.  DO NOT lay out a cheap blueprint plan to practice with two notes for the 1st week then more next week adding when you feel you're ready etc.---it won't work.  ADD all of the notes to your practice as soon as possible.  In less than several days.

8.  Start in the middle of the keyboard as it is easiest to hear the "colors" in the middle of the keyboard.  As soon as you get half way decent in recognizing the keys in the middle of the keyboard, don't try to figure why you keep guessing one half step off or so.  Immediately begin practicing with all of the remaining octaves in your perfect pitch eartraining.  This should round you out.

9.  Practice this perfect pitch eartraining at least 3-7 hours a day.  If you're not having pitch related nightmares (literally speaking), then you are not practicing enough.  And I am very serious, if you are not waking up with what is similar to a perfect pitch nightmare then you are not practicing enough.  Practice more until you are on the verge of getting sick.

10.  Buy the David Burge Perfect Pitch Eartraining Course and listen to him speak--it helps a lot just to hear him run his mouth.  But  DO NOT follow his method precisely because it sort of shoots into the sky--use my method!!  Ignore everything he says about using your relative pitch in the perfect pitch course because it will probably throw you off (it did me).  It doesn't matter if you are using relative pitch or even if you are staring straight at your piano as you hit the key.  You're listening for an association to the songs that you made a list of not a relation to the other keys that you have hit.  

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

Well, I hope this helps!

Will this method get you perfect pitch?  I can't say for sure. I'm already exhibiting very clear signs of a budding perfect pitch (in less than 2 weeks of practicing this so you do the math!)  Yes, if you played a note on your piano, I probably would be able to tell you what note it is (if not, I certainly will come close).

(lol) Best Wishes,

StoreBrand

Offline scy2200j

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #10 on: June 12, 2004, 10:32:52 AM
Perfect pitch 'affects' 1 in 1000 individuals. Quite a lot, but sadly, most with perfect pitch do not know they have it. Perfect pitch is something you are born with, and is apparently not related to your talent (or lack thereof) in music. Granted, those who have perfect pitch and have a natural aptitude for music are definitely better off.

You can't gain perfect pitch, but you can gain relative pitch. It will never be 100% accurate though, but you can be close. You can sit on the piano keys, and a perfect pitch-er will be able to name all the notes you just played with your rear end, where as a relative pitch-er will more than likely be unable to do that.

I know a few people who have wrong perfect pitch. Wrong in the sense that when you play an A, they hear Ab or something else, and that is quite astounding too. Colors are also common amongst musically inclined people, and apparently, a lot of the colors overlap from person to person. Quite spectacular, definitely a lot more to be learnt about this.

Offline pseudopianist

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #11 on: June 12, 2004, 03:55:57 PM
Quote


You can't gain perfect pitch, but you can gain relative pitch. It will never be 100% accurate though, but you can be close.




You can't? Then how will I tell my friends that they don't have perfect pitch at all then? :p


I'm using Mr Lucas eartraining course right now and I'm clearly seeing results. Why wouldn't it be possible to gain? Do these people have some superear?
Whisky and Messiaen

Offline scy2200j

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #12 on: June 12, 2004, 04:52:46 PM
I think a distinction has to be made here from relative pitch and perfect pitch, which are both different things. People with perfect pitch are born with perfect pitch, whereas relative pitch is trained. So theoretically, people with relative pitch will be 'relative' to the pitch (i.e. close or thereabouts) whereas people with perfect pitch will never make a mistake ever. You can play a note in between a C and a C# and they (the one with perfect pitch) will tell you that it is between a C and a C#. It's a talent, or a curse, whichever one you want to call it.

I'd call it more of a superbrain than a superear though. Could be a good thing, but imagine how many pianos are off-key even slightly? Or all that music you hear on the radio? That would drive one with perfect pitch nuts! Hope this helps somewhat :)

Offline Plucesiar

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #13 on: June 13, 2004, 10:30:00 PM
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I think a distinction has to be made here from relative pitch and perfect pitch, which are both different things. People with perfect pitch are born with perfect pitch, whereas relative pitch is trained. So theoretically, people with relative pitch will be 'relative' to the pitch (i.e. close or thereabouts) whereas people with perfect pitch will never make a mistake ever. You can play a note in between a C and a C# and they (the one with perfect pitch) will tell you that it is between a C and a C#. It's a talent, or a curse, whichever one you want to call it.

I'd call it more of a superbrain than a superear though. Could be a good thing, but imagine how many pianos are off-key even slightly? Or all that music you hear on the radio? That would drive one with perfect pitch nuts! Hope this helps somewhat :)


Relative pitch means the ability to tell the interval between two notes, not the fault of recognizing the note slightly off. Someone with relative pitch can tell that it is a perfect fifth between a C# and a G#, but cannot tell what the actual notes are.

StoreBrand your method of perfect pitch is very interesting. Have you tried it on anyone?  Does it work on yourself?

Offline StoreBrand

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #14 on: June 14, 2004, 12:50:38 AM
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StoreBrand your method of perfect pitch is very interesting. Have you tried it on anyone?  Does it work on yourself?


Plucesiar, I'm sorry to say this but I could be wrong on what I have said.  If you play a note on your piano I will almost certainly recognize it now but I have the feeling that I may have had this ability (at least a rough form of it) for quite some time until I sat down to truly memorize it.  This would probably explain why I did it so fast.  Now that I pretty much have a green form of perfect pitch I decided to test two of my family members (one who can't sing at all but I suspected could have perfect pitch) and it is pretty obvious to me now that BOTH of them have perfect pitch and always had it.  I was caught completely off guard by this.  Among other things, one of them correctly guessed, for example that the key E was the beginning of Fur Elise and this was done over the phone!   But I also remember a long time ago when I played Fur Elise transposed on a digital piano and this same family member screamed to me to stop playing it like that because it sounded sickening.  The other family member (who is not a musician) impressively passed all of my tests with flying colors and took it even further saying that she ALWAYS knew with 100% certainty whenever her vocal range forced her to sing a song in a way that was not the original (as it played in her head).   If that's not a good example of having perfect pitch without knowing it then I don't know what is!

Then there is another family member who can sing very very well and has spot on perfect relative pitch.  But, based off of my tests, I'm fairly certain that this family member does not have perfect pitch.  

In other words, I could tell you yes that I have attempted to try it on someone else but they passed before I could even attempt the method!

In any case, I hope my method (adjusted from the David Burge eartraining course) helps the people out here and please let me know if it works for you!




Offline pseudopianist

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #15 on: June 14, 2004, 12:57:24 AM
I can identfy (sp?) most of the tones on the piano because I know some melodies that start on that tone. I hear that each tone has its own characther BUT is alright to do the Melody thing? Will it help me? Or is this a wrong way of practsing... couse I always focus on which melody fits.  :-/
Whisky and Messiaen

Offline MasterTuner

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #16 on: June 19, 2004, 06:44:06 AM
I "unlocked" my absolute pitch ability a few years ago.  I have been tested and I rank among those who are supposedly "born" with it.  To me, AP seems very natural.  IT CAN BE ACQUIRED.

Offline willcowskitz

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #17 on: June 19, 2004, 03:55:45 PM
Absolute pitch is more common among speakers of tonal languages like Chinese or Vietnamese, where same words have different meanings depending on the tonal pitch of the voice it is said in.  Also, in Chinese music a single tone has naturally a unique quality, having weight in themselves and not just in melodies (relations between tones) like in western music.

Here is a paste from some site:

``Tone and the Instruments
In Chinese music, the single tone is of greater significance than melody; the tone is an important attribute of the substance that produces it. Hence musical instruments are separated into eight classes according to the materials from which they are made—gourd (sheng); bamboo (panpipes); wood (chu, a trough-shaped percussion instrument); silk (various types of zither, with silk strings); clay (globular flute); metal (bell); stone (sonorous stone); and skin (drum). Music was believed to have cosmological and ethical connotations comparable to those of Greek music. The failure of a dynasty was ascribed to its inability to find the proper huang chung, or tone of absolute pitch.

The huang chung was produced by a bamboo pipe that roughly approximated the normal pitch of a man's voice. Other pipes were cut, their length bearing a definite mathematical ratio to it. Their tones were divided into two groups—six male tones and six female. These were the lüs, and their relationship approximated the Pythagorean cycle of fifths. Legend ascribes their origin to birdsong, six from that of the male bird and six from that of the female, and the tones of the two sets were always kept separate.

The lüs did not constitute a scale, however. The scale of Chinese music is pentatonic, roughly represented by the black keys on a piano. From it, by starting on different notes, several modes may be derived. The melody of vocal music is limited by the fact that melodic inflection influences the meaning of a word. Likewise, quantitative rhythms are not easily adaptable to the Chinese language.´´



This said, I believe absolute pitch is not something you are born with. It is something your environment to some degree requests from you, and so you learn this ability as a young child exposed to either music or other variance in tones which you must learn to distinguish from themselves. On the other hand, as we humans are the sum of our genotype (genetic code) and fenotype (environmental influence), it is probable that different individuals have varying natural abilities to develop their pitch. But obvious is, that children are to more easily acquire it than adults.

Offline pseudopianist

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #18 on: June 19, 2004, 05:29:07 PM
Quote
I can identfy (sp?) most of the tones on the piano because I know some melodies that start on that tone. I hear that each tone has its own characther BUT is alright to do the Melody thing? Will it help me? Or is this a wrong way of practsing... couse I always focus on which melody fits.  :-/



Hmm Yes good question
Whisky and Messiaen

Offline pianodude

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Perfect Pitch is most likely genetic
Reply #19 on: October 02, 2004, 04:55:59 AM
What is Absolute Pitch (Perfect Pitch)?

Absolute Pitch, commonly referred to as Perfect Pitch, is an intriguing behavioral trait involved in music perception and is defined as the ability to recognize the pitch of a musical tone without an external reference pitch. To be considered a Perfect Pitch possessor, an individual must have the ability to identify pitches accurately and instantaneously.

Main Objective

Our primary goal is to identify the genes that are involved in the development of Perfect Pitch. This study will allow us to better understand the interplay of genetics and musical training in the development of this behavioral trait. These findings may also be applicable to other traits, such as language ability.

The goals of this website are to inform the public about the University of California Study of the Genetics of Absolute Pitch and to recruit individuals to take part in this study. This study is being conducted by the laboratories of Dr. Jane Gitschier at the University of California, San Francisco and Dr. Nelson Freimer at the University of California, Los Angeles. The study has been approved by the UCSF Committee on Human Research. All information collected on individual participants will be kept confidential.

How To Participate In The UC Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study

Take our auditory test and find out if you qualify as an Absolute Pitch Possessor for the UC Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study!

You can start by clicking on GO! at the bottom of this page. First you will be asked to complete a survey. If you indicate in the survey that you are willing to participate in the study, we will need an e-mail address or a phone number to contact you for follow-up. If you are willing to participate you will be linked to a page with instructions on how to take the auditory tests for Perfect Pitch. If you choose, you will be informed of your score and how it compares to the score of the group of Perfect Pitch possessors used as the standard in this study.

If you have indicated your willingness to participate, you may be contacted by e-mail or telephone in order to conduct a brief interview on your family history of Perfect Pitch, and to arrange for a sample of blood (equivalent to two teaspoons) to be taken for our DNA studies. Participation in the study is dependent on your giving consent and your confidentiality is maintained.

General Findings From the UC Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study

Our study suggests that a genetic predisposition for Perfect Pitch and musical training are both important for the development of Perfect Pitch.

A large survey was conducted to assess the role of musical training in the development of Perfect Pitch and to evaluate whether this trait aggregates in families. This survey also served as a springboard for testing individuals for Perfect Pitch abilities by a simple auditory test.

To measure of Absolute Pitch ability, we designed an auditory tone test to objectively assess the pitch discrimination abilities of our study participants. Our auditory tone test consists of two types of tests. The first test consists of 40 pure tones. The second test consists of 40 piano tones. The tests are broken into 4 blocks containing 10 trials. In each trial, a tone plays for 1 second, followed by a silent interval of 3 seconds. Participants record their guesses in the 3 second intervals.

From our initial testing of a mixed population of self-reported absolute pitch and non-absolute pitch musicians, we were able to determine the distribution and mean scores on both the pure tone and piano tone tests. From these distributions and mean scores, we developed five categories of Absolute Pitch ability (AP-1 through AP-5), based on how far a subject's scores vary above and below these mean scores. A scatter plot of the scores of our initial study participants is shown below:

Scatter plot of pure-tone and piano-tone scores of a combined sample of self-reported Absolute Pitch (AP) possessors and self-reported non-AP possessors, examined with the auditory tone tests for Absolute Pitch. The maximum score obtainable for pure tones and piano tones was 36. AP status was assigned to subjects based on their combined pure tone and piano tone scores on the auditory tone test. The vertical dashed line indicates the mean pure-tone score +2 standard errors (SE); the vertical solid line indicates the mean pure-tone score +3 SE. The horizontal solid line indicates the mean piano-tone score+3 SE. (from S. Baharloo, P.A. Johnston, S.K. Service, J. Gitschier, and N.B. Freimer, 1998. Absolute Pitch: An Approach for Identification of Genetic and Nongenetic Components. American Journal of Human Genetics 62, 224-231.)

For the UC Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study, we define absolute pitch possessors to be those participants whose scores fall into the AP-1 category, 3 standard deviations above both the mean pure tone score (solid black vertical line on graph) and mean piano tone score (dotted horizontal line on graph).

Based on the data collected from the surveys and the auditory tests, we found that most individuals with Perfect Pitch began formal musical training before age 6. This supports the hypothesis that early musical training may be necessary for the development of Perfect Pitch. However, early musical training alone is not sufficient for one to develop Perfect Pitch, as most individuals with musical training initiated before age 6 did not report that they possessed Perfect Pitch. We also observed that Perfect Pitch aggregates in families, indicating a role for genetic components in the development of Perfect Pitch. Indeed we found that a sibling (with early musical training) of a Perfect Pitch possessor is as much as 15 times more likely to possess Perfect Pitch than is another individual with early musical training but with no family history of Perfect Pitch. (See the PRESS link of this website for more information on this study.)

Offline CC

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #20 on: October 02, 2004, 08:18:35 AM
It must be true that there are genetic dispositions toward learning PP, just as there are genetic dispositions to become better ditch diggers or learning to speak better English.  But practically anyone can learn English to a certain degree, and all the evidence I have seen (for example, PP classes taught in many piano schools to students of all ages) indicate that practically anyone can learn PP. See my reply to next topic on UC program on PP, and section III.12 of link below.

Color association with pitch "naturally" occurs with a very small fraction of people with PP and is certainly one method of learning. However, associating with such things as CDE, or Do Re Mi, etc., might be better because CDE associates directly with piano key positions and DoRe Me associates with sound (aural to aural) whereas color association is visual to aural with the visual part having nothing to do with piano.

Singing range is also a useful reference to use.  The statement that you can be "born with PP" can probably be considered wrong, simply because the chromatic scale is arbitrary. A was chosen 440, but it could have been 480.  The fact that PP seems to run in families, especially siblings, is not surprising because they went thru similar environments. Those with PP can be surprisingly accurate, but not accurate enough to distinguish between temperaments, such as Pythagorean or Equal. Violinists are often good in PP, but the violin is tuned Pythagorean and is different from piano, which is mostly Equal.  Within one octave, the two tunings differ little (relatively speaking -- don't tell that to tuners!), but over many octaves, the difference is appreciable.  Luckily, the vibrato takes care of all that!
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #21 on: October 05, 2004, 09:34:46 AM
It seems to me that there are 4 types of pitch, not 2.  (This is one of my own wacko theories;  I have an apparently infinite supply.)

Absolute pitch comes as short term pitch memory and long term.  Most people have some degree of short term pitch memory or they couldn't sing a note after being given a pitch.  It seems to be fairly easy to extend that ability to longer time periods and I suspect some of the attempts to teach PP merely do that.  Long term pitch memory relies on qualitative differences between pitches, not merely distances.  The research I've read (but it's old) suggests musical training before age 8 increases the likelihood of acquiring or demonstrating this.  One very interesting article noted that Indian musicians, who use a scale with many more intervals than the Western scale, like 22 steps to the octave, also have perfect pitch.  But only for the notes also found in the western diatonic scale.  At any rate, I think short and long PP are different brain mechanisms.  

Then, I think relative pitch comes in two varieties as well, interval and tonal.  Interval relative pitch is the ability to sing a fifth, e.g., above a given note.  Play C, sing G, because you know how far to go.  This is the way I've done it in choirs, but as I've aged it has become harder, and I've changed my strategy somewhat.  Tonal relative pitch is the ability to pick that G out of the C tonality you are in.  It is singing the fifth degree of the scale, rather than a fifth away from a given note.  
Tim

Offline jlh

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Re: Any way to gain absolute/perfect pitch?
Reply #22 on: October 08, 2004, 10:06:15 AM
If anyone's interested, there's an online test from UCSF that can tell you if you have perfect pitch or not.  

https://perfectpitch.ucsf.edu/

I just took the test and 'lo and behold... I have perfect pitch!  I already knew that, of course, but it was a fun little test to take.  :)
. ROFL : ROFL:LOL:ROFL : ROFL '
                 ___/\___
  L   ______/             \
LOL "”””””””\         [ ] \
  L              \_________)
                 ___I___I___/
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

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