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My theory on perfect pitch.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by patplaysbass, Aug 22, 2012.


  1. patplaysbass

    patplaysbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 7, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Soon-to-be-ex Musician's Friend/Guitar Center Employee
    I have a theory on raising kids to have perfect pitch. It goes a little something like this:

    Let's say you have a baby. Congratulations! What'd you name it? That's probably the cutest baby I've ever seen, you must be such a proud parent. Naturally you'd want your kid to grow up and be a musician, right? So you go to great lengths to make sure that your kid hears nothing but atonal music until they're, say, 5 years old. I'm not necessarily talking about tripping-balls-through-space sort of stuff, but works without a defined tonal center. Then you start to introduce your kid to structured tonality. Things would seem to have a clarity that he/she didn't realize was possible. You then teach names for said tonalities and boom, your kid can recognize/name them.

    Sound crazy? Here's a metaphor.

    When you're developing, you see the world as a jumble of exciting shapes and colors. Everything makes sense, but you just can't quite make sense of it. Then you get to preschool and start to learn colors. Your teacher shows you what white is, and you can point out a piece of paper, the white board, and the ceiling tiles. Then your teacher shows you what red is and you can point out the exit sign, some kid's shirt, etc. You get the idea. Would it be logical to say that if a child were exposed only to atonal music during his formative years (much like the jumble of shapes and colors), then with the proper guidance he'd be able to pick out individual notes and identify them?

    Or maybe I should just never have kids. Who knows.
     
  2. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
  3. droo46

    droo46

    Jun 16, 2011
    I would argue that hearing pitches is a bit more complex than seeing colors.
     
  4. patplaysbass

    patplaysbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 7, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Soon-to-be-ex Musician's Friend/Guitar Center Employee
    Pedro, I scanned the article and will definitely read it more in depth later. Interesting indeed.

    Droo, my theory is based on a newborn having a "blank slate", if you will. I feel like hearing pitches is more complex to us because it's not what we've focused on learning about ever since we started the educational process. But something rather important that I probably should have mentioned in my OP is that I have perfect pitch, so I suppose it does seem more equatable to sight for me. Which is precisely why I've asked for opinions.
     
  5. CnB77

    CnB77

    Jan 7, 2011
    NJ
    Note that standard concert pitch has shifted over time. If you teach your children perfect pitch for what we have now, and by the time they're adults standard concert pitch has gone up a few hz, they'll be cursed with the feeling that all music is perpetually out of tune

    I think
     
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    There is definite science that your brain can develop perfect pitch at a young age, the young brain can still be molded and developed in ways an adults cannot. The same reason why somebody who is learning language in a bi-lingual home will have an easier time learning more languages as an adult.

    Regions where people natively speak tonal languages like manadarin, cantonese, or viet namese tend to have a much higher proportion of people with perfect pitch.
     
  7. Ottsworth

    Ottsworth

    Dec 14, 2010
    London, UK
    Haha, I'm glad I don't have perfect pitch, it seems at times more of a burden than a blessing...
     
  8. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I always felt that's what folks who had perfect pitch said to us that don't to make us feel better. I'd gladly take the absolute pitch.
     
  9. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Actually, yes, it does sound crazy. It's like saying that the way to make your baby into a great speaker is to ensure that he or she doesn't hear or speak any recognizable words until age 5.

    Besides, I don't know how you could possibly prevent a child from hearing tonal music for five years.
     
  10. Ottsworth

    Ottsworth

    Dec 14, 2010
    London, UK
    Hmm, perhaps... Still, I wouldn't want to listen to Schönberg or microtonal music with perfect pitch... :meh:
     
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I dont have perfect pitch ... but I have been playing since 1968 ... lately I noticed that I can sometimes recognize the notes played on a bass.
     
  12. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I don't have perfect pitch and I still don't want to listen to either. But anyway, I think it would be mighty handy to have absolute pitch.
     
  13. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I also would expect there to be babies out there that will completely unable to grasp the concept properly, just as there are people that are colour blind there can be folks that are tone deaf and always will be in my opinion.
     
  14. My wife has PERFECT pitch..........to her it's a curse. When people find out she has that gift, they always want to test her. She is NEVER wrong. She has the same gift with chords, she can tell you the chord, how it's voiced and the order of the notes in the chord. She can't explain how she does it, she thinks it's weird that most musicians don't have perfect pitch.
     
  15. Ottsworth

    Ottsworth

    Dec 14, 2010
    London, UK
    Haha, each to his/her own I suppose... :p
     
  16. wideload

    wideload

    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    But does she know what colors the notes are?? By the way, I am evolving FROM perfect pitch to atonal gibberish. Growing old is a bitch...:crying:
     
  17. Did she listen to atonal music until the age of 5?
     
  18. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I've known a few folks with perfect pitch and none of them ever thought of it as a curse.

    A couple of years ago I asked Lynn Seaton if students with perfect pitch were required (at UNT) to take music dictation and ear training. As I recall he has the head of the department to respond to my question as he didn't know. Her response was that yes they still took ear training because apparently perfect pitch often was lost by older musicians and they needed the training since they could no longer rely on the gift.
     
  19. BassMom88

    BassMom88

    Oct 17, 2011
    It's not if you have a certain type of Synesthesia!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia
    I've posted about that here before. It's real and it's spectacular!!!
    My daughter was just interviewed last night for a webshow called "Improv Live 365" http://www.improvlive365.com and talked about how her synesthesia (she has several types) helps her walk changes, know what key things are in...she "sees" her fretboard in colors...it doesn't give her perfect pitch, but it definitely helps. It's such an incredible gift!!! Once the video is up I'll post a link to it.
    So many musicians and artists have it to some degree. It's said to be genetic. There's a list on the Wikipedia link. It's just starting to be researched, but there are quite a few books on the subject. My favorite is "Tasting the Universe" by Maureen Seaberg.
     

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