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how can I acquire relative pitch?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by conference, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. conference


    Apr 14, 2010
    I want to know are some ways you guys have taken to acquire relative pitch?
  2. snyderz


    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    In the 'technique' forum?
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Get your cousin to throw the ball?
  4. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Less time Talk Bass, more time Playing Bass?
  5. I always wondered what stuff sounded like to people who have no relative pitch. Does music sound atonal and dischordant to them?
  6. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    I think what the OP was referring to was "perfect relative pitch", where you can identify and reproduce intervals accurately.

    I know people who are truly "tone-deaf". My pastor's one; we had a new music director try to teach him to intone parts of the service; the director abandoned that plan pretty quickly. They still appreciate good music, just like the rest of us may not know the theory or techniques behind drawing or painting, but can recognize "good" and "bad" art. Appreciation of beauty is a natural part of the human condition; creating beauty isn't, even if the desire to create beauty may be.

    However, it's been my experience that true "harmonoholics", the people whose hair stands on end when a hauntingly beautiful melody or progression is done just right, and who actually experience an emotional and physical "high" from simply listening to certain music, tend to be people with really good relative pitch. I know some of those, too; it's almost comical to watch them listen to something like a Palestrina or Whitacre choral piece. It really does act like a drug to some.

    As for learning it, yes, perfect relative pitch can be learned. Some people are better than others, and I've seen true perfect absolute pitch as a talent. If you don't have that talent, it just takes a lot of listening.
  7. DrVenkman


    Jan 22, 2010
    Pacific NW
    Both my mom and dad were pretty tone deaf - the proverbial 'couldn't carry a tune in a bucket'. Couldn't sing even a simple melody, couldn't sit down at a piano and pick out a tune, generally couldn't even tell you if the next note in a melody was higher or lower in pitch than the current note.

    But they both enjoyed music, and while they couldn't tell you what was wrong they could tell when a wrong note was being played.
  8. Hammertime3


    Apr 23, 2008
    Are we talking about the gift some people have that most people refer to as just "perfect pitch", where someone can identify what key a certain song is played in just by listening, or identify any note played on a piano, or tune a guitar perfectly without a tuner? If so, I have two friends who play in a country band who have that gift. One is visually handicapped, which might have served to improve his ear over the years, but the other is not. Neither has ever owned a tuner, or needed one for that matter, and their guitar tuning will not be a hair off, EVER. Seldom will you find a band of only four members, and two of them have this "perfect pitch", in any genre I would suspect. I have tried to get the hang of it over the years, but just wind up frustrated and throw my hands up in the end. Some got it, some don't!
  9. I believe the OP is just refering to relative pitch, which is a common skill among musicians and non-musicians alike (though they may not know it), and not perfect pitch, which is pretty rare.

    To develop your relative pitch skills, you generally have someone play a tone then another on a piano (or guitar, or...) and you name the interval.
    Practice hearing every interval on your bass or guitar, many are very obvious, like major 7th or diminished 5th. With a bit of practice you should be able to pick up the skill, maybe not perfectly, but... above average at least!
  10. david_aa


    Feb 9, 2010
    Madrid - Spain
    Singing intervals is very useful and associating intervals to well know songs or riffs.
    - Minor third: Smoke on the water (G-B flat)
    - Minor sixth: Black Orpheus (E-C)
    - ... and so on...
  11. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
  13. Stradavus


    Oct 21, 2005
    +1 on ear training software. Some of the links posted in this thread should be just fine. Depending on your natural inclination, you'll pick it up sooner or later if you stick with it.

    I'd say start off with about 20-30 minute per day sessions as many times per week as possible. Work on identifying chord tones first, then move on from there.
  14. I can hear common ones like 3rd, 4th 5th no prob.
    It's the minor 2nd, minor 3rd, 6th and 7th that always give me trouble.
    Honestly for folks with hearing damage, its a lot harder.
    Not singling anyone out, just saying.
  15. ExurKun


    Sep 29, 2009
    im curious, i wouldnt say im tone deaf, but i definitely have a subpar ear, when someone plays out of key or misses a note in a chord, are you guys able to instantly notice, comparable to someone going out of time? (something i actually understand lol)
  16. Yes i can, but its not something i could do from the start, if you spend a long time playing you will get it to some degree...
    Its all about listening to the complete picture instead of yourself!
  17. one way i have heard is to have someone else record some simple phrases with a gap between.....listen,try to play back the phrase exactly,go to the next phrase......as you get better make the phrases more complex and longer
  18. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    my relative pitch is scary accurate and i approached developing it logically and mathematically. it is really measuring distance; distance between notes. you can teach yourself fairly easily if you can tell the difference between major and minor, consonance and dissonance, etc. then it is just a case of narrowing it down through the process of elimination.
    however, all bets are off after a couple of drinks...
  19. standupright


    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    yes. immediately, just like when you first notice a fart. you know it's a fart. first there was regular air, and then there was fart. you never smell a fart and say to yourself, "is that citrus?".

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