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How many members have Absolute/Perfect pitch?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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Elwin
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January 10, 2017 - 10:25 pm
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I was curious in regards to how many people on fiddlerman forums have Absolute/perfect pitch. 

For those that don't know, people with perfect pitch have the ability to hear a note, and then say its letter name without any preference (hearing a C or any other note, and then using it to figure out the note).

There is another similar ability that's called relative pitch, it's the ability to identify pitches related to the notes you've heard. With relative pitch, you can identify notes related to each other. You can identify notes using a preference (usually a C).

I have perfect pitch myself, I was even born with it.

I made a poll to record how many members have perfect pitch/relative pitch.

Do you have Perfect Pitch?

  • No, I have relative pitch instead.(71% : 5 votes)
  • Yes!!!!(14% : 1 vote)
  • No, I don't have relative pitch, or perfect pitch.(14% : 1 vote)
Total Voters: 7
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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 11, 2017 - 8:50 am
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This question raises another aspect that's interesting ( to me ) - so - not meaning to hijack your thread in any way - I may open this up for discussion here since it is related....

It is generally understood ( so I have read ), that notes - played in isolation - perhaps up to 5-to-10 or so cents "away" ( high or low ) from a specific 'pitch' (be it A 440Hz or C 261.6Hz or any other standard equal temperament note) are generally not recognized as being "out-of-tune".  

This is often referred to as the "JND" ( just noticeable difference ).  What will be heard, if a second instrument plays the PRECISE pitch will be a "beating" effect between the two apparently-the-same notes.  

I've messed with this using Audacity to set up various tones - it is very subjective - especially because I know exactly what I'm supposed to be listening for  - and I would say that - for tones in isolation (played one after the other) - I start to recognize them as being "different" at around 10 cents away from each other - about 1/10th of a semitone.  It should also be noted that in this simple series of tests I ran, I stuck with simple sine waves.  More complex waveforms containing numerous overtones as would normally be heard, may well give a different result.   BUT - I can only differentiate them if I hear one immediately after the other - on their own - I could never tell which was high, which was low, or indeed which if any was perfect.

The other thing that relates to this are when multiple instruments, especially fret-less are playing the same sequence of notes.  That's where the "interesting" overall sound of multiple instruments comes from - no-one in a violin section of an orchestra is 100% repeatedly hitting the precise frequency of a given pitch (they will generally be some cents out, high or low, and although they appear to be visually 'in-time' with each other - there will always be minor differences in timing as well.  (Besides, they'll hide it with vibrato roflol)

I think this is what (or one of the things that) gives an orchestrated piece its richness and interest.   If all the players were in exact-pitch with each other and in and exact phase relationship ( time ) - you might as well have a number of robots playing...

The other related aspect that comes to mind is the difference between pitches defined in the (compromise) Equal Temperament tuning, and those in the Just Intonation tuning scheme - but I'm not going there right now LOL

LOL - @Elwin - I wasn't questioning your ability in any way - I just find it really interesting, and how "accurate" perfect-pitch can be, especially with a single tone, played in isolation of any other cues....    Thanks for the post - I like topics like this which make me stop and think, and pose questions to myself ! thumbs-up

EDIT: For relative pitch ear-training - check out http://fiddlerman.com/fiddle-l.....tion-game/

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Elwin
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January 11, 2017 - 6:46 pm
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Well, it's important to know, that the perfect pitch ability is pretty "general". What a note that violinists/violists call C, another musician might call D. It's because instruments such as the Clarinet and Trumpet are transposing to B-flat. So note preferences might be different.

Also, throughout history, A=440 wasn't the standard. During baroque times, A=415 (A-flat in today's pitches) was a common one. However, France tended to use A=392 (G in today's pitches). Some cities used A=466, I think, usually higher than A=440. A=440 wasn't used as the standard until much later.

Several orchestras usually tune to an A=442, because it helps with projection. My sister did tune her violin to A=442 once, and it did sound better, a little. Though I did notice that it sounded a bit "Sharp".

I never meant that perfect pitch means that you can detect sharp or flat. Usually, with training, all musicians can detect that. I just meant, distinguishing individual notes, or "telling them apart by their rich 'color'". People with perfect pitch tend to view notes that way, sort of like "hearing colors".

And, it's completely fine to be discussing this on this thread. You're not hijacking it.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 12, 2017 - 4:23 am
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Elwin said

....And, it's completely fine to be discussing this on this thread. You're not hijacking it.  

LOL ! Thank you - I tend to do that !

Yeah - thanks for the feedback - I understand the differences in tuning, and transposing instruments.   I actually like the sound on one of my fiddles better when its tuning is dropped by a semitone - so that's great for playing it on its own (so although I'm playing a tune scored in D, it's coming out as being in C# LOL.   Even then, it's no great problem to play along to accompaniment that's really in D - although it does initially "mess my fingering up"  Hahaha

I never meant that perfect pitch means that you can detect sharp or flat. Usually, with training, all musicians can detect that. I just meant, distinguishing individual notes, or "telling them apart by their rich 'color'". People with perfect pitch tend to view notes that way, sort of like "hearing colors".

Ahhh, I understand much better !   That particular association, I do not have - although I do tend to "hear music in my head" - obviously not an "auditory" process, and I'm not actually "hearing" any particular sound, or instrument voice - I can't really explain it.   I guess it's not unusual though.

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Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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coolpinkone
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January 12, 2017 - 12:16 pm
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I certainly don't have anything resembling perfect pitch.  

My professor in college up in his 70's life long teacher, pianist, ect. said that it used to be really really rare.  He had still only encountered a few in his long life.

I know people that claim to have almost perfect pitch.   

Interesting discussion for sure. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Elwin
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January 12, 2017 - 7:33 pm
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It is quite rare that someone has real perfect pitch, nevertheless, one who was born with it. It does, however, come with a few downsides. 

From what I've heard, people with perfect pitch tend to have trouble with sight reading. I'm a bit skeptical about that since I can sightread, it's just that sightreading on the piano was pretty hard. I can always tell if I'm making a mistake, and it bothered me. My teacher was always saying "don't correct yourself while sight reading". On a different instrument, it's easier.

Also, having perfect pitch would mean a different level of criticalness. You can tell when they're not playing the notes right, or their intonation needs work on, and many times, that would cause others to distance themselves from you. On the bottom line, you hear music differently than everyone else around you.

 

One thing I'd also like to add, there are times, when there are three, wind or string instruments playing a triad, e.g. C-E-G, many times the chord would sound better if all three weren't "in-tune". The E (or 3rd) would sound better if it was slightly flat, while the G (or 5th) would sound better if it is slightly sharp. The C (or root) has to be spot on. You combine those three intonations, and the chord sounds better. We did that many times while I was in band.

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
January 12, 2017 - 8:29 pm
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I definitely don't have perfect pitch. I voted for "No, I don't have relative pitch, or perfect pitch," but I think I'm actually somewhere in between that and "No, I have relative pitch instead."

My pitch-identifying skills have improved significantly since I got involved in bluegrass music, which emphasizes playing by ear and improvisation. I wouldn't call it an innate talent however. At least for me, it's an acquired skill that I've worked hard to achieve.

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damfino
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January 12, 2017 - 10:10 pm
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Not sure where I am in the mix. My teacher tells me I have a really good ear, but beyond that I never give it much thought. I doubt I have perfect pitch, though.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 13, 2017 - 5:03 am
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Elwin said
.......

One thing I'd also like to add, there are times, when there are three, wind or string instruments playing a triad, e.g. C-E-G, many times the chord would sound better if all three weren't "in-tune". The E (or 3rd) would sound better if it was slightly flat, while the G (or 5th) would sound better if it is slightly sharp. The C (or root) has to be spot on. You combine those three intonations, and the chord sounds better. We did that many times while I was in band.  

  Couldn't agree more !   I hear the difference....   What you say is corroborated by the math - and - we understand why Just Intonation "works for the ear", but, equally, why the equal temperament scale is no more than a (very necessary) compromise in our 12-semi-tone scale.....  And, arguably (just for the sake of being awkward here - LOL) the Justly Intoned C E G is the one that's "in-tune" and it's the Eq. Temp. C E G that's not !!!!

Interval Note

(for example)

Ratio to Fundamental
Just Scale
Ratio to Fundamental
Equal Temperament
Unison C 1.0000 1.0000
Minor Second C# 25/24 = 1.0417 1.05946
Major Second D 9/8 = 1.1250 1.12246
Minor Third D# 6/5 = 1.2000 1.18921
Major Third E 5/4 = 1.2500 1.25992
Fourth F 4/3 = 1.3333 1.33483
Diminished Fifth F# 45/32 = 1.4063 1.41421
Fifth G 3/2 = 1.5000 1.49831
Minor Sixth G# 8/5 = 1.6000 1.58740
Major Sixth A 5/3 = 1.6667 1.68179
Minor Seventh A# 9/5 = 1.8000 1.78180
Major Seventh B 15/8 = 1.8750 1.88775
Octave C 2.0000 2.0000

 

Playing a chord C, E, G in Just Intonation as distinct from the fixed pitch compromise that is Equal Temperament - suggests exactly what you say.  If you were all playing in Equal temperament then, flattening the E slightly, and sharpening the G slightly definitely brings the chord closer to the justly-intoned (and nicer to the ear) version.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 13, 2017 - 7:28 am
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Just a small point, but I believe there are very few people who don't have either absolute or relative pitch. Almost everyone has relative pitch. Those who don't are sometimes referred to as 'tone deaf' and are unable to differentiate between different pitches, even if played one after the other. A very rare thing, if I understand it correctly.

My understanding is that even tone deaf people can differentiate pitches from one another if they're far enough apart, so even then it's all, er, relative. 😉

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MrYikes
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January 13, 2017 - 9:53 am
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My vocal teacher told me I was tone deaf on one note.  She played that note and I sang it, then she played a semi-tone down and she said I sang the same (first) note.  I quit her immediately because well, I'm perfect.  And started playing drums.

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
January 13, 2017 - 10:37 am
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LOL @MrYikes !  I have a special box in my effects chain, just for drummers - can you spot it ?

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Dan-Hur
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January 13, 2017 - 10:55 am
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This is a good question. I assume if you're not sure, you probably don't have it haha and that's where I fall. I've been focusing more on training my ear lately for shifting into fourth and fifth position. I could use some of those effects pedals 🙂

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Elwin
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January 14, 2017 - 6:24 pm
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True tone deafness is really rare. True tone deafness, can't even distinguish a "high-pitch" from a low pitch, even if the pitch isn't a musical note. You know those "slide whistles". You "slide up" and "slide down" it's going to sound like a continuous sound to a tone deaf person.

There are those people that say they are tone deaf: but they claim "I can't hear my own tone". If you can hear and distinguish tones, or at least spot a difference, then you aren't, it's just that you need a lot more training in music to get your ears used to it.

Having relative pitch, does help in bluegrass. I also play the upright bass a little, and you do need to be able to improvise at music such as bluegrass.

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KindaScratchy
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January 14, 2017 - 6:47 pm
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This discussion brings to mind a workshop I attended on "Learning to Play by Ear" at Fiddle Hell 2016, led by professional fiddler Lissa Schneckenberger.

She did an exercise where she played two tones then had us say whether the second one was higher or lower. Then she had us say whether a tone was a little or a lot higher/lower than the previous.

She also gave some good advice: try to train yourself to recognize each string's distinct "voice," much as you recognize voices of different people.

Seems like bottom line is that it's more a matter of paying attention to what you're hearing than some innate ability.

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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Elwin
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January 14, 2017 - 11:06 pm
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There is a theory, though, that musicians with absolute/perfect pitch are in tune to just hearing pitches like that. They have scanned the brains, and musicians who display perfect pitch have unusually large temporal lobes.

I do believe that people can be trained to have perfect pitch, though, it might be impossible for some.

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Fiddlerman
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January 17, 2017 - 3:59 pm
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I don't have perfect pitch but I am close. I have relative pitch and never use a tuner.

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 18, 2017 - 4:17 am
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I've heard of a phenomenon called 'standard pitch memory' which is a learned thing common among pro musicians. It isn't exactly perfect pitch, but those with this ability can tell if their instrument is in tune or not - maybe that's what you have Pierre?

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Fiddlerman
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January 18, 2017 - 7:27 am
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Memory pitch is exactly what it is. I can do more than know if the instrument is in pitch but yes, exactly. Since I was little, I knew what Each string sounds like. I would always be pretty close but occasionally my hearing wants to hear the violin tuned up to A 444 or 445.
443 is acceptable and used in many European orchestras.
I think that every number is about 7 cents so the difference between 440 and 441 is about 6-7 cents. Don't remember exactly how much.

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BillyG
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January 18, 2017 - 2:59 pm
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I just KNEW this topic would be interesting !  Thanks to the OP @elwinthumbs-up   Cool! 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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