1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Perfect Pitch and Tone Deaf

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jljohnson85, Jun 11, 2001.

  1. jljohnson85


    Nov 27, 2000
    Woodstock, GA
    Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is having perfect pitch and being tone deaf?
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Perfect pitch is the ability to identify any tone (or note you could say) without reference to any other pitch, note, or sound. While it can be developed, many believe it to be more "naturally occurring." It is extremely rare, although many fools will tell you they possess it. Oddly enough, I have a friend that truly does possess it. He is able to identify any pitch, or combination of pitches, out of thin air. Car horns, bird calls, other random noises. To him, everything is music. I'm insanely jealous.

    Relative pitch, is more common. That is the ability to be able to identify any pitch after a previous pitch has been identified. In other words, someone plays a C on a piano, you know it's C, and then they play another note, and you're able to identify it based upon it's interval from C. This can be developed and is an invaluable tool to any musician.

    Tone Deaf is more colloquial. Most people truly aren't "tone deaf" but just haven't developed their ear. Being tone deaf is the inability to be able to identify any pitches when heard. Since this is crucial to singing, many people who have not trained themselves vocally and cannot sing, may believe that they are "tone deaf."
  3. jljohnson85


    Nov 27, 2000
    Woodstock, GA
    Ok, thanks for clearing that up for me
  4. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    The thing I could never figure out about so called 'perfect pitch' is that the standard (piano) tuning we use is based on a tempered scale ie not all intervals are 'perfectly' pitched eg e to f and b to c, so if one truly had perfect pitch surely they would find it difficult to identify these intervals which in turn would make it difficult to even tune an instrument.

    I agree that there are people out there who have an amazingly developed ear (my cousin is a concert pianist and her 'ear' is amazing case in point while at a party a few years ago she was mucking around on the piano showing me some things while 3 rooms away the rest of gang started an impromptu drunken sing song now, she stopped playing for a second cocked her ear and BANG hit the exact chord they were singing at the time...bear in mind this was 3 rooms away.....scary but even she says she dosent have perfect pitch).
  5. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    The two points mentioned are extremes, most of us fall somewhere between the two. Playing fretless and slide guitar has made me more fussy about tuning. I am trying to incorporate microtones into my playing. I regard myself as someone nearer the tone deaf position because I have had to work at it. If you sang a song to my Grandad he would play it on the piano by the second verse.

    We all have different abilities and gifts, and music is no different, some can sight read anything and some can play anything by ear-work at both.
  6. So...is approximate pitch an option? After restringing my basses or guitar, or if some arse face screwed around with the tuning pegs, I can tune it within a halfstep of the actual note.

    But then again, I was almost tone deaf to begin with. Sometimes I had to spend up to 10 minutes with my teacher just tuning my guitar. Then I slowly got the hang of it, and once I get one string in tune I can get the rest of the bass or guitar in tune within...ummm...well, I dunno. A short period of time. :p
  7. CJY


    Apr 30, 2001
    I do not have perfect pitch but I can show u how.
    Play a C note.Listen INSIDE the note.To me it sounds like a 'ppiiaao'.A G note sounds like 'diiuu'.
    F# sounds twangy,Eb sounds mellow like 'dduuhh',and so on.All notes have a different sound,we just never noticed it before.The difficult part is to remember what each note 'sounds' like.

    I think it is easier for kids to learn this.Their ears are still young so they approach each note with innocence and wonder.
  8. CJY


    Apr 30, 2001
    Anyway if u guys r really interested ,u can order the perfect pitch course by David L Burge(I think)
  9. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Reportedly, Falco (Rock Me Amadeus) has perfect pitch. Didn't make him much of a singer.

Share This Page