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perfect pitch

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by whir, Aug 31, 2003.

  1. whir


    Aug 30, 2003
  2. alankroeger


    Sep 1, 2003
    No I know someone who tried this they got nothing out of it. I have known quite a few people who have perfect pitch (I don't) I do have decent relative pitch abilities and I have some notes that stay in my memory but, I still have to use the relative pitch technique of comparison. I compare the memorized notes to the ones I am currently listening to and then know what the note is it's a slower then perfect pitch which is knowing the note without the extra step of comparing one note (a reference) against another. You likely can develop a decent relative pitch technique but, as far as I can tell developing perfect pitch is very nearly impossible unless you already have some aspect of perfect pitch already. Most people who have perfect pitch don't even wonder about it unless someone asks them to explain there unique abilities which eventually someone will at some point or other. I wish I had perfect pitch but, I don't . I borrowed the CDs for that one and though not as diligent as the coarse recommended I saw nothing in the coarse material to warrant recommending it to anyone. Try some of the standard eartraining materials that most music schools recommend if you don't have perfect pitch you can definately improve your relative pitch capabilities.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Absolute pitch is at least partly genetic, but all you really need is good relative pitch.

    People who have it say that it also can be a bother at times (out of tune noises etc.).
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Everyone I have met with perfect pitch has had a helluva time living with it and trying to not go crazy when they hear out of tune flourescent lights and stuff.

    I think that while perfect pitch might be a neat thing to have, in some respects, it is ultimately more important to have good relative pitch.

    as for that course...I doubt it works as well as it says, I'm sure you might be able to get a little out of it, but I highly doubt that it works that well.
  5. whir


    Aug 30, 2003
    ok this isnt good, I concetrated on feeling the notes (not so much as remembering the pitch but feeling it) so much that I dont know what pitch my voice used to be in I have all these musical feeling swimming around in my head when I speak it comes out as clear musical notes not a natrual voice, I think I shoulda just let it come from my heart. Has anyone experienced a change like this? I even feel my movement as music feelings
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    As far as I'm aware, none of the musicians I look up to, respect, admire and am influenced by have perfect pitch. Certainly none of the bassists I interviewed for Bassist magazine ever attributed any of their skill to having perfect pitch.

    As has been mentioned, developing your sense of relative pitch (recognising intervals, chord quality, key changes and alterations within a chord) is a far more useful musical tool, and one that every 'serious' musician I've ever come across continues to work on, either proactively, or just as a by product of the kind of musical situations they put themselves in.

    So, if you want to develop perfect pitch, you'd better ask someone who has it, and who went through a course to get it about the validity of a particular teaching method.. ;)

  7. whir


    Aug 30, 2003
    I can seem to tell the notes in peoples speech, the sounds cuase me to feel were my finger would go on the fretboard to match it...
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    But most importantly, are you right, with any degree of consistency? If you put on a CD of a song you don't know the key of - can you tell what key it's in just by listening? When you hear a sound and feel where your finger would go on the fretboard, do you get out your bass and check if you were right?
  9. genesis6891


    May 29, 2003
    "Everyone I have met with perfect pitch has had a helluva time living with it and trying to not go crazy when they hear out of tune flourescent lights and stuff."

    Ah yes this is very true. I'm told countless times I have perfect pitch (and so a very good ear, thank feck) but yes it gets extreme because it goes far beyond music. I'll be sitting talking with friends and I'll notice how that lawnmower in the background is whirring in Bb, or how my Dyson hoover whirrs in D. Funny thing is it doesn't annoy me! I like to know that I can pick stupid things like that up straight away.

    It does also mean that you get tested by sceptics - a lot. I don't like to go around saying 'oh yeah by the way I have perfect pitch' because I'm not an arrogant bugger and at the end of the day that alone is not going to make you a good musician. Instead, everyone else tells everyone else I have perfect pitch, and so of course has to test me, extensively. It's satisfying getting through it but yeah definetly, it can go way beyond just playing music.

    But...I wouldn't want it any other way. A major part of my playing is how good my ears are, and how easily I can pick things up and adjust and adapt just by listening. I would never have progressed at the rate I have done at times if I didn't have perfect pitch, and it's something I hope I'll never take for granted.
  10. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    A guy who was student teaching at my HS in the music department had perfect pitch. He said that everyone is born with it, but people lose it over time. Parents who are musicians can keep the children attuned to it, which will help them retain their skill. Both of his parents are musicians, and neither have perfect pitch, but when he was young, he listened to a lot of classical music, and even just his parents playing scales and stuff. He says that is why he has it.
  11. sunburstbasser


    Oct 18, 2003
    I believe that everyone has it. The human ear can recognize differant sounds and tones, why not pitch? Its just something that many people don't develop early enough, and so have to settle for relative pitch.
  12. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Both relative and absolute pitch can certainly be very powerful musical tools. In my experience however, I’ve noticed no real link between a person’s inborn sense of pitch and their overall musical ability. The fact that there are lots of folks who have amazing pitch recognition skills but no real musical talent would seem to indicate that what we think of as “musicality” comes more from creativity, expressiveness, dedication and other abstract skills than from a simple ability to process pitch information.
  13. Thonk


    Sep 14, 2003
    Very well put Mr Manring

    i think of it this way we can all see diffrent colours right?
    we know blue green red and all there diffrent shades BUT does that make us all great painters?......

    im working my way through one of these course's atm and i have to say ive noticed that my ear has improved since i started but then again has it made me a better player or a better Writer atm im undecided......

    absolute pitch/relitive pitch seem to me just like any other technique including music theroy and as michael say's bout ppl with AP ive met ppl who know music theroy insideout but can't play 1 note of what i feel is meaningful creative music and ive met ppl who know nothing about theroy that can bring me to tears or make me shiver with a handful of note's

    i think its like any technique you work for at the end of the day and its what you do with it that make's it musical or creative and im for anything that help's myself or other ppl express whats in there heads and in there hearts :)

    (Note to michael sorry for total ripping you off for my user name hehe) ;)
  14. Here is how it seems to work with me. If I haven't been listening to a tune on the radio or whatever, or been playing my bass - in other words, I don't have a tune "in my head" I can pitch "G" on my bass 99 times out of 100 - I've got into the habit of trying this each time I play my bass. I've spent time with my luthier helping him set up basses, which can involve lots of tuning and de-tuning, and he has come to the same conclusion, which is that at least this type of "perfect-pitch" can be learned. I've also noticed that tunes which I know very well, I can usually pitch without hearing the first note.

    There are some people who can hear an interval (or two or three) and tell you immediately exactly what the intervals are. There are some people who can tell not only the intervals, but the exact notes.

    I think this skill, if you can call it that, can be learned.

    - Wil
  15. sunburstbasser


    Oct 18, 2003
    Intervals are fairly easy to recogonize from each other. They sound different, and its fairly obvious compared to "is that a C or a G?" Picking out the exact notes is harder. The theory class I took last year was all about learing what the intervals sound like. So intervals aren't beyond anyone, if I can get it.:D