perfect pitch ear training course ?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BluesMan845, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. :help: Does anyone have any experience with the PerfectPitch training course ? It seems hokey, but they've been advertising in big name mags for years and there has been some independant research done which seems to suggest that it does work. I'm looking for some realworld experiences from users of the program about what, if anything, the course did for you.

  2. Never heard of it. A kid in my old high school had perfect pitch. I could play any random note on my bass, and he'd nail it every time. Like I'd play a F#, he'd say "Eff sharp". Crazy stuff, and he didn't get any training.
  3. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    You can't learn perfect pitch; you have to be born with it.

    What you can learn, however, is really really really good relative pitch. ;)

    That add in the magazines looks like total BS to me. But who knows..
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    Not entirely true. You CAN learn 'perfect' pitch. But more important to be a functional musician is relative pitch. You can learn perfect pitch just as you can learn just about anything. It's all memory and association. People have this notion that you have to born with it, that's not entirely true. You can most certainly acquire it, but, much like anything, it'll be a lot of hard work and there are no shortcuts. Along the way, you will likely develop a very strong relative pitch to compliment it, and through it all you will likely become a stronger musician in general.

    The magazine course about perfect pitch is a teaching method. It is not any more BS than just about any other method. It will work for some, it won't work for others. It is not in anyway a shortcut or secret to success. Nor are they promising instant perfect pitch results. It is a program of study like many others.

    If I recall correctly, that specific program uses colors to associate with pitches. So that you can hear pitches and think of colors and then know what the pitches are. That is one way of doing it, you will achieve the ability to name pitches with no reference and you will will impress all your friends. Big whoop. A functional relative pitch is far more useful for an active musician. Which, I do not know if that perfect pitch course fully covers, but I'm sure they don't completely avoid it.

    colors is just one thing, everyone learns differently, maybe you'd be better off associating with burritos, I dunno. Maybe you could learn it from studying a specific pitch every day for 10-15 minutes a day for a year. Who knows. The point is, there is no easy way to do it, but it is possible to do.

    Yes, some people are born with absolute pitch or 'perfect' pitch. There is a debate that everyone is born with it but we lose the ability early on if it is not utilized, so a musically inclined youth is more likely to have than a non musically inclined youth. Some people have perfect pitch and it disturbs them causing them much grief because their internal reference is so absolute that any deviance from that they hear clashes with it. I have known people who struggled greatly to cope with that. It's not exactly a desirable thing in that regard.

    Consider this. I do not have perfect pitch, yet I can sing a low F consistently in tune without reference. I haven't always been able to do that, it's just something I picked up from playing bass so long. My relative pitch is good enough that I can usually jump from that reference to other pitches. But, why is it at all unreasonable to think that I could learn other pitches as I have learned that low F? It's not impossible.
  5. On the contrary Wrong Robot. It has been medically proven that a person cannot learn perfect pitch but with time and practice you can get a very good at relative pitch.

    In high school I had a band instructor who was a great musician. He could learn anything by ear but he only had relative pitch, he will never have perfect pitch. On the other hand the junior high music teacher was born with perfect pitch, It was discovered that at a very young age she could determine the exact pitch of day to day things like a car engine, the sound of a vaccum and so on. My band instructor was not able to do this.

    Perfect pitch is very rare. First of all it is part genetic and the other part is being introduced to music at a very young age. Without the genetic factor it is impossible for a person to learn perfect pitch.

    So what is this genetic factor you ask?? It all has to do with the alignment of the small bones in the ear. I wont go into a long speech about that but without it a person cannot possess perfect pitch.
  6. +1

    A roommate of mine had perfect pitch. It's freaky.
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    You can learn to remember pitches by association, which, for all intents and purposes is 'perfect' pitch. The difference being that you do not actually have an innate ability to recall pitch(which, by the way, even having 'perfect' pitch through birth, you still have to learn how to use it). But you can certainly learn to recall pitches by memory and/or functionally play back pitches on your instrument without any reference. So, it would not necessarily be true 'perfect' pitch. But it is functionally identical. This is learnable.
  8. Monomer


    Jul 22, 2005
    I HAVE the cd's and the book. The above said comment is wrong. I dont think I was born with it or anything, and i'm going along the coarse just fine. It trains your ear to be like an eye, except with music instead of color. It only uses the color referance during the first couple of lessons, to make it clear of what it's trying to accomplish.

    PS: by perfect, I dont mean that you'll always See "A" as "400khz" it dosnt work that way. Just as with the light spectrum . Your eyes dont tell you "Oh, that purple is 39.4% blue and 60.6% green"
  9. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    For anyone to say that they have or even can learn 'perfect" pitch is pure BS!

    Out of all the musicians that read this thread, how many have ever actually seen someone who has perfect pitch? I'll guarantee you that not a single person will truthfully claim to have it or to have ever seen anyone who has.

    Perfect pitch is a far cry from being capable of note recognition. Perfct pitch is recognizing when a note is PERFECTLY in tune to some standard reference without having the reference pitch to compare to. Most really experienced musicians can fairly accurately recognize what note is being played but practically no one can tell whether it is dead on standard pitch or any other reference.

    I'll even bet that 99.9% of the people in the world can't sing a note on perfect pitch even against a reference note.

    Get your tuner out and sing a note that sustains exactly on pitch. I'll bet you can't keep the needle right on center and neither flat nor sharp leds lit. Just try it. If you don't sing try to whistle a note that sustains dead on pitch. A good vocal teacher can teach most people to sing in key but certainly not on perfect pitch.

    I've known several people who tried those miracle courses and it didn't work for anyone but the shysters who sell the course.

    To the poster above who HAS the book and the course: Did it teach you to have perfect pitch?

    Save your money cause it ain't gonna happen!
  10. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    (I've posted this before in TB and other forums. Hope it will be helpful)

    There are some excellent pieces of shareware for ear training, like EarMaster and Earope. You should give them a try if you're interested on developing your relative pitch skills.

    As for perfect pitch, I've never tried those courses but in my opinion they're a fraud. Perfect pitch is something that you have or you don't. Another different history is that maybe you have it but you don't know that, so you can train that skill after you know you have it. To me, the perfect test for determining if someone has perfect pitch is: Have you ever noticed that when a popular singer is interviewed in an entertainment news TV show (for instance) and he/she is asked to sing a fragment of his/her latest hit a capella they never sing it in the same key they recorded it? (I haven't seen the first who do it, at least) If you can sing any song on the same key it was recorded just by sheer memory, that means you have perfect pitch (if you haven't noticed before) and you can work on it (one of those perfect pitch courses may work). But if you can't do it, I think any effort to develop this will be in vain. I can tell you this based on my own experience. I have perfect pitch and I teach an ear training class at the university. Some students have asked me about that and I've told them to take that test. Some of them could do it and after they let me know that I always ask them the actual pitches I play on the piano without any reference and they're gradually improving their perfect pitch ability.

    But musically speaking, what really counts is having a good relative ear. I mean, perfect pitch is a cool ability. It's also cool to see others being impressed with that (you feel like an X-Man or something like that), but from the musical point of view is almost useless IMO. OK, maybe it can help you to figure out certain things faster, you don't need to carry a tuning fork, but learning to differentiate intervals regardless of the names of the notes is the real asset a good musician must develop (or be concerned about developing it). You don't need perfect pitch to recognize a Maj7-#9 chord. On the other hand, perfect pitch may be problematic at times. Fortunately I don't play a transpositional instrument like the alto sax, for instance (bass is a transpositional, but to an octave, so notes are spelled the same). It's so complicated to me to read or say a note name knowing that it isn't the real one. I feel I was lucky when I did my diploma concert on double bass: Solo double bass music is written in scordatura, which means that you should tune the bass a major second higher for making it sound brighter. So if a piece is in G major, it is written in G major for the DB, but it sounds in A major. The accompaniment piano part is written in A major. Fortunately, when my diploma concert took place the university hadn't bought an acoustic piano for the auditorium and there was a Yamaha Clavinova there instead. My master agreed that it wasn't a good idea to tune the DB one second higher having orchestral tuning strings installed, so it was just a matter of hitting the transposition key in the Clavinova. There's a guy now who is practicing his DB diploma concert and doesn't have solo tuning strings in his bass (and nobody has them here, plus they're very hard to find and expensive), but now there's an acoustic piano in the auditorium, so he's transcribing all the piano parts one major second lower. That's such a task. Again, I feel I was very fortunate. I think it would take me double the time to learn those pieces played in scordatura.

    One thing's for sure: Many people think that guys/gals with perfect pitch don't enjoy live music because they're always aware of out of tune or wrong notes. That's a true misconception. I enjoy live music as much as I can and only smile when I catch something wrong. Besides, you also can detect mistakes with great relative pitch alone. The only diference is that you can't tell note names if you don't have perfect pitch (is that necessary?).

    I'm just recalling a single situation in which PP has proved to be VERY USEFUL to me: In the tropical music band I play, there are some tunes in which the pianist transposes his instrument one semitone lower because we decided at rehearsals to change the key and he's too lazy to relearn the song, so he just transposes the keyboard. After playing one of those tunes, most of the times he forgets to return the piano to standard tuning. Fortunately he has the vice of playing some notes before the next tune starts and I always notice it ("Heeey!!! Watch out! The piano is transposed!!!" -it really pisses me off. Why doesn't he learn the tune in the new key??-). But he didn't do it a couple of times and it was a complete disaster. I remember once that we were going to play a tune which started with just the piano and the singer. We just played a "transposed" tune and he didn't "warn me" about that. When they started, no way to stop. I was in my mind like "Ewwww!". Just imagine the result when the rest of the band (a five-piece horn section plus bass and latin percussion) entered.

    Again, hope this helps. :)
  11. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    That's basically semantic quibbling.

    For the purpose of discussion, I would define what you describe as 'absolute' pitch and what you can readily acquire through training as 'perfect' pitch. Solely for the basis of discussion.

    Here is a fact. You can learn how to recognize pitches in a functional manner that will aid your ability to improvise, play with others, learn songs and impress your friends. This is learnable. There should be no doubt about this.

    You are correct that you can not learn to have pitch accuracy within cents and fractions of cents constantly operating inside your brain. That is something people are born with, it is also not inherently beneficial to their music or functional in a musical sense.

    Just as one of the previous posters mentioned. When you look at color you don't see "45% Red 32% blue...etc" you see purple. You *can* train your ears and your mind to learn pitches to recall without a reference pitch. It's not easy, and those courses for doing it aren't necessarily going to help(they might, they might not). But you very clearly CAN do this.

    Since the functional and practical application of this type of internal hearing/memory is identical with the common definition of 'perfect' pitch. I stand by my statement that you can acquire 'perfect' pitch.

    'Absolute' pitch, I do not believe you can acquire, that is something that is rare, and when people are born with it they often times are made very uncomfortable by its presence. I do not believe that you can necessarily acquire 'absolute' pitch in this sense. HOWEVER, a strong enough ear can tell the difference between A=440hz and a=436hz. They might not be able to quantify the difference, or even know exactly what they are hearing, but a trained ear can still train to hear such minute differences.

    Consider fretless players, they practice their intonation above all. They not only must know how to play perfectly in tune, but they must be able to hear, in fractions of pitch when they are out of tune. Many players lack this fine tuning when they first begin to play, but after years of practicing they begin to know when they are a couple cents sharp or flat and can adjust accordingly. They are hearing that level of refinement in their head, when they were unable to before. This shows me that it is indeed possible to improve your internal hearing to extreme levels. While you may never quite have 'absolute' pitch, that some people are born with, functionally and practically, one can acquire pretty much the same thing.
  12. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    There's a lot of myths and voodoo and hooey going around on perfect/relative pitch ability and whatnot, but all I know for sure (in that I have accomplished this myself, as have millions of others) is that relative pitch can be learned to the point where you can sing off notes, without a reference, with a relatively decent degree of accuracy. (I mean, how do choir singers do it? ;) ) The frequencies just get engraved in your brain after awhile.
  13. I agree with the idea that perfect pitch isn't all that important, whereas relative pitch is. And think about the very idea of perfect pitch for a moment. The ability to recall and reproduce a sung or played pitch with perfect accuracy, regardless of specific note names, would be an example of perfect pitch, but the ability to hear a pitch and say, "That's an A" would not necessarily be so. The reason is that the labels we give pitches are really conventions rather than absolute equivalences.

    The assumption is that there is some absolute reference for what A or B or whatever is. We mostly use A=440 these days, but that's not the only A ever used. In other periods, they used different As.

    So there is no absolute and unchanging association of A with 440 Hz; it's just a convention. If someone could identify an A in an A=440 world, they would be wildly off in an A=380 or A=480 world--the pitch they hear at 440 would no longer be an A but some other note, so saying "That's an A" would be wrong.
  15. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Yes despite the claims that nobody in here knows anyone who has perfect pitch, my brother has it. He can listen to a song and transcribe the bassline within two listens without using any instrument. At concerts he can tell me if any instrument is even slightly out of tune and I often can't tell at all. It's an incredible gift and he's very grateful for it. Sadly, I have decent relative pitch but I was able to recognise early on that I did not have anything like the same abilities as him, sadly the gene missed me out it would seem. Neither of my sisters have it either having said that. My brother is of the opinion that perfect pitch can not be learnt, he says you can develop good note recognition and relative pitch. He also says that it's not a big deal but I still think it'd be neat to have. Lucky :).
  16. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Ah, David Lucas Burge strikes again. The guy has an enormous mansion up in Hanalei - he's pretty decent on the piano too ;)
  17. From the sounds of things your brother possess the same ability as the person I know.
  18. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I know 2 people with perfect pitch and I have met others.

    Two things that can be learned.

    Very True. A functional internal ear is more important.

    Is it just because they call it 'perfect pitch' that you think it's bogus?Would you say a program that helps one to recall pitch information without reference is bogus?
  19. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Yet another site for ear training:

    I'd say no on the Burge course and just practise practise practise.
    He talks too much. Work on relative pitch as it will do you the most good. Get a CD of someone playing intervals and listen to it over and over.

    You'll soon recognize that sounds of intervals and cadences and easily be able to transpose music.

    For perfect pitch you can try this experiment. Make every day of the week a C scale tone. Sunday = C, Monday = D, and so on. First thing in the morning play a C. Play it several times a day and sing it. Do this everyday for 5 years. Then test yourself. Sing Sunday and see if you hit it.

    Then try some alternative temperaments and see if you don't go crazy.
  20. Monomer


    Jul 22, 2005

    yeah, he's no guitar player, though.

    the Cd's are just fine. it really go's through what he's trying accomplish before actually getting to the training sessions.