Perfect Pitch

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Branson, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    I generally do not post here as a "moderator" unless there is something (4 letter words, sexually explicit) to moderate.

    Actually all the perfect pitchers that I know had little trouble retaining music. As a matter of fact 2 choral perfect pitchers that come to mind were conductors and had uncanny 3D capabilities. We felt like we couldn't hide - in any musical respect. Both conducted without scores. Maybe I am mistaken in attributing perfect pitch to this type of multi talent.
  2. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    I can do that. I do not have perfect pitch, but I do have relatively good pitch memory. I can usually hum a concert Bb or F, because those pitches stick in my head from playing the trumpet. Sometimes, though, I test myself and am off a whole or half step.

    Still, pitches do persist in my head, as do melodies, and sometimes I find myself singing a song to myself and wondering where it came from - what musical queue spawned it - and then my phone rings or my wife's phone rings, and I realize there are a musical similarities between the ring tones and my internal sing-song. Other times it is words which queue lyrical memories and then spawn melodic internal songs.

    It amazes me, anyway.

    Early childhood exposure to my parents' favorite Ella Fitzgerald has led me to knowing the heads to hundreds upon hundreds of standards.
  3. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    No, I don't think you are unless your bloodyminded enough to be absolute about absolute pitch,

    There seem to be a bunch of loosely associated skills, some more learnt, some more natural talents, of which many people have one or two, and a very, very few (eg Mozart) seem to have the lot.

    The 'frequency meter in the head' version of absolute pitch is actually one of the more common. If you read Wikipedia's references carefully, you'll find that the '1 in 10,000' figure quoted a few times now in this thread is only a very rough estimate for populations of european extraction. The proportion is far higher for populations whose native languages are tonal (much of east Asia, and as it happens, southern Nigeria and near neighbours) where small changes in vowel pitch can change word meaning completely. In comparison to Mrs Seth, I rate as tone deaf in certain contexts.

    My understanding of the '3 cents off pitch makes me vomit' kind of claim is that it is considered more urban myth than anything. In real music the frequency of any written note varies particularly with key but with many other factors too. Think about it - how would such people deal with vibrato?

    One of the girls I mentioned in post 2 I knew pretty well and discussed it with her a few times. According to her, when she listened to a chord, it was like someone threw a handful of marbles into an egg carton. There was no working out of intervals and reference pitches, at least not consciously, the picture was there in her mind instantly of a pattern of full and empty cells. Almost like picturing the spelling of a word as it was spoken. According to her, absolute intonation didn't really make much difference: a flattish E and sharpish E both hit the same button. She could hear a really out of tune note, but it would tend not to hit any buttons at all and just register as indistinct until she thought about it and worked out what it must be. Sort of like a slightly tinted grey amongst a bunch of primary colours.

    Of course this is third-party recollection of a few brief conversations that took place 40 years ago. But it sticks in my memory because I was so envious of that gift. My own gift (being able to memorise a symphony after one or two hearings) seemed very mediocre in comparison. And even that ability gradually slipped away sometime in my thirties. Alcohol I guess.

    Anyway, yes I agree that what we loosely call 'perfect pitch' is a bunch of various abilities with various degrees of rarity and various levels of ability, obscured by a shedful of misconception and outright BS. Possibly the problem is having that word 'perfect' in there. It always attracts people's attention for all the wrong reasons, and, of course, NO ONE IS PERFECT!
  4. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Perfect pitch refers to being able to recall exact pitches without a reference note. A person with perfect pitch could walk on a stage and sing (assuming they are a singer) an exact note without ever having a need for the "pitch pipe" or having the pianist hit a note. Provided the accompaniment was tuned to the pitch, they could begin singing solo acapella and then be joined by instruments.

    The fact that someone can play a cord and a musician can name the notes, that is pretty typical music school learning. A lot of folks can hear a piece and say c maj7. Whether they need a reference note would probably be the difference in perfect pitch or not.
  5. Branson

    Branson Piano User

    Jan 16, 2011
    Now, knowing that you are primarily or possibly totally responsible for this site, let me say that your efforts to spread knowledge through out the trumpet world has not gone unnoticed.
    Speaking from only my standpoint, I have learned many new ideas and have been able to improve both my playing as well as my students.

    The basic structure of your site and the ease of adding to and sharing other's materials and thoughts has been impressive.

    Because of the response to my original post, I have learned a great deal and it is my wish that more could be learned about Perfect pitch.

    We all thank you for your exceptional work and hope that our small corner of the trumpet world will continue to grow and prosper.

    Your friend in trumpet,
    Bruce Chidester
    Branson Trumpet Ensemble
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Hey, who needs 'em anymore? We've got clip-on chromatic tuners to tell us if we are in tune or not, and to h*ll with the rest of the orchestra!
  7. JRgroove

    JRgroove Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 8, 2014
    Kansas City
    I had this exact experience in college choir. At times the professor would tire of us wavering all around. He would say "john" give us an A (or whatever note). The guy would simply sing the note with no reference. It's like he had the pitch stored in his head. We would then adjust to his voice. I was always amazed. I once asked the professor how "John" did this. He replied; perfect pitch. Only person I know that could do this.
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Yeah, for them... we have pepper spray! And... that will induce the rest of the orchestra to perfectly pitch a fit!
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Actually I am just one of the guys here with no financial interest in any website. I think I got offered the moderator thingy because I am here a lot.......... Sometimes it changes the rules of engagement in ways that I don't like. People that like to argue think that I am dependent on being able to pull a plug. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In any case, this HAS been a very fruitful thread. I would make it required reading if I could.

  10. bamajazzlady

    bamajazzlady Mezzo Forte User

    May 16, 2011
    Can perfect pitch be acquired through diligent and correct practice?

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