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Topic: Is perfect picth genetic??  (Read 1758 times)

Offline pianodude

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Is perfect picth genetic??
on: October 02, 2004, 04:58:26 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.)

Current Status Of the UC Genetics of Absolute Pitch Study

To find genes responsible for the predisposition for developing Perfect Pitch, we must identify individuals who fulfill a stringent definition of Perfect Pitch via our auditory tone test. To fully participate in the genetic study, these individuals must also be willing to provide us with a DNA sample and must have additional family members who are also willing to provide us with a DNA sample. These DNA samples are used in gene mapping studies to determine linkage between specific genetic markers on our chromosomes and the Perfect Pitch trait. By this process we hope to home in on the gene or genes that influence the development of Perfect Pitch. We anticipate that over 100 families with multiple Perfect Pitch possessors will be needed for the successful completion of this study.
:)

Offline CC

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #1 on: October 02, 2004, 07:30:48 AM
UC program on genetics of PP?  Are you kidding? PP is an acquired skill.  I thot that was well known. The musical pitch scale is a human concoction; it has nothing to do with nature.  Perhpaps harmony is partly genetic in the sense that we all recognize it. But most people don't have PP because they never learned it. You acquire it most easily as a baby, probably because of nature's way of implanting the mother (parents') voice, etc., on the young, a vital way to recognize your parents when young.  Saying genetics of PP is like saying genetics of speaking English.  Of course, there are genetics of whether you can learn to speak better English than someone else, but you are not talking about that.

There are two tests for PP.  (1) how many notes can you recognize when they are all played together? those with good PP can easily recognize 10. (2) how quickly can you recognize these notes?  The lesser PP's will have a reference pitch memorized and other pitches are recognized by its interval from the reference. Good ones instantly recognize any pitch.

Practically anyone exposed sufficiently early and sufficiently frequently to accurate pitches (eg tuned piano) will have PP in those pitches.  Automatically, and w/o effort. They usually don't even know that they have PP until someone tests them.  Then, beginning around the teens, they start to lose the PP if not maintained.

Those who want to learn PP should start by learning relative pitch.  Then learn one note, such as A440 or middle C. Then learn the notes of your favorite melody.  At first, your accuracy will be low, maybe several half-tones.  This will improve to fractions of a semitone.  When you get close to a semitone, a magical transformation occurs whereby all the notes suddenly sound different and you can recognize all of them. This is the most difficult stage to get to.  This ability will come and go, which can be frustrating.  But as you practice, it will come more regularly, until you gain confidence.  Once acquired, PP must be maintained, or it will gradually go away.

I see very little genetics in this.  It is as ridiculous as studying the genetics of pianists, or genetics of ditch diggers.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline Daevren

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #2 on: October 02, 2004, 11:05:29 PM
Almost everything has a genetic factor. (otherwise we wouldn't be human).

But you have to listen to notes to learn PP. There are surely some genes that help or block learning AP/PP.

But there is no AP/PP gene which 'instantly' gives you the ability.

Offline Daevren

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #3 on: October 02, 2004, 11:22:25 PM
"Once acquired, PP must be maintained, or it will gradually go away."

Thats a flat out contradiction with David Lucas Burge. But then again, I don't think Burge has much credit... lol

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #4 on: October 03, 2004, 01:33:32 AM
I beg to differ with CC Chang here.  As in most forms of intelligence there is a genetic component as well as a learned component.  It is both nature and nurture.  Detecting a pitch has nothing to do with the name one calls the pitch.  You are detecting a particular frequency of acoustic vibration just as the detection of color is a process in which the eye recognizes a particular wavelength of electromagnetic vibration.  There are people who are color blind and cannot tell blue from red.  That is genetic.  The same is true of people who cannot tell 440 cycles of acoustic vibration from 550.  A sensitive ear, predisposed by genes and exposed to sounds from an early age can differentiate between those frequencies and assign name values to them.  The nurture part is necessary.  If a child grew up in an environment in which everything was black and white, they would not recognize color.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #5 on: October 03, 2004, 02:25:08 AM
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There are people who are color blind and cannot tell blue from red.  That is genetic.  The same is true of people who cannot tell 440 cycles of acoustic vibration from 550.  A sensitive ear, predisposed by genes and exposed to sounds from an early age can differentiate between those frequencies and assign name values to them.  The nurture part is necessary.

One has to be careful here. Color blindness is a genetic defect. No matter how much nurture you get, you can't correct color blindness. It is a loss of function, just like you can't make a bird fly that doesn't have wings. Actually, I don't think that there is something equivalent in terms of hearing, so your 440/550 Hz example might not be a valid one.

Rather, everybody with a healthy ear is capable of distinguishing 440 Hz from 550 Hz, but not everybody is able to reproducably attach names to these frequencies. Likewise, everybody with healthy eyes is able to distinguish blue from red, but not everybody is able to reproducably attach names to the corresponding wavelengths.

Perfect pitch is not so much about the functionality of the sensory apparatus. It is about making the cognitive connection between the primary signal and the names that go along with these signals. This ability to reproducably attach the correct names can be trained.

The functionality of the sensory apparatus can also be improved, but only within narrow boundaries. For example, it is possible to train the ear to distinguish between the different tone qualities that arise from how a piano key is depressed. This is an acquired, refined ability. People often say at first "No, I can't hear a difference", but as soon as they know what to listen for, they will readily be able to hear the differences. The same goes for other senses as well.
 
Quote
If a child grew up in an environment in which everything was black and white, they would not recognize color.

This is defintely not true. The ability to recognize color is an intrinsic functionality of the eye. The cells that recognize color are there. There is no loss of functionality. Likewise, somebody who grew up in a silent environment will be able to hear when exposed to sound. Just because a sensory apparatus is not used does not mean it vanishes. What needs to be trained though, again, is the ability to connect names with the sensation.

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #6 on: October 03, 2004, 06:36:47 AM
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 This is defintely not true. The ability to recognize color is an intrinsic functionality of the eye. The cells that recognize color are there. .

I'm sorry, but what you're saying is not correct.  Color perception is to a large extent learned behavior, with some genetic differences between people.  Recent research confirms that.  See this link:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040727085636.htm  
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Rach3

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #7 on: October 03, 2004, 10:38:21 AM
DNA studies? So you expect there to be a single gene, or a very few genes, encoding for 'perfect pitch'?
"Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them."
--Richard Wagner

Offline xvimbi

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Re: Is perfect picth genetic??
Reply #8 on: October 03, 2004, 04:06:00 PM
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I'm sorry, but what you're saying is not correct.  Color perception is to a large extent learned behavior, with some genetic differences between people.  Recent research confirms that.  See this link:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040727085636.htm  

Yes, if we are talking about color perception, but not the ability to detect color, which is what you said in your original post. There is a big difference. The article you are referring to says exactly what I said. It refers to the ability of monkeys to distinguish between color constancy of objects, not the color itself. To quote: "[the monkeys'] color vision was very much wavelength-dominated, such that they were unable to compensate for the changes in wavelength composition".
"Wavelength-dominated" refers to the fact that they were able to recognize different wavelengths, i.e. colors. They picked up on the overall quality of the light. However, they were "unable to compensate for the changes in wavelength composition", which means that they couldn't distinguish between very similar colors (as it says further down in the article).
This situation is very similar to the example about tone quality I used in my post.
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

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