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Topic: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

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  1. #1

    learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    hello and sorry for the long winded post!

    i picked up a learn-absolute-pitch" course i'd say about 5 or 6 years ago and never followed through with it due mostly to a lack of a second person with whom to practice and lack of access to a piano. this christmas i got a nice keyboard and GPO (oh yea!) so on and off i've been practicing and today something strange occured.

    a few weeks after i started the course i started noticing there actually was a difference between the notes other than some sounded "higher" or "lower" than others. i was listening really intensly and trying to do stuff like count the vibrations of the notes & memorize them - that didn't work.

    then maybe 3 years ago i attempted it again and i started hearing what i can only describe as a "humming" in my ears when i'd play the notes. it was a real shock to hear that humming in some of the songs i'd hear on the radio too - but that was rare.

    then maybe a year ago i started hearing something else and it really intrigued me out. when playing notes i started hearing something very faint, almost like inside the note (it's the only way i can describe it) like when you run your finger around the outside of a crystal glass or something.

    i've been trying again these past couple weeks and i really noticed that the notes had a different feel to them - like no matter how hard i struck some notes i couldn't get them to sound louder than others.. it's like everytime i come back to this all the differences between notes get more and more intense!! and finally tonight I was closing my eyes and hitting different notes and i could just feel what note i was playing - like each note had a personality/shape/ or something. it was really really bizarre.

    have any of you taught yourselves absolute pitch? is this kinda that progression you went through or am i just really going nutz? what the heck am i hearing?!?!?

    i'm really really curious now -
    bachrock
    Last edited by bachrock; 06-14-2005 at 07:13 PM. Reason: title too narrow

  2. #2
    Senior Member BlueMax's Avatar
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    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    Sometimes it's simply a matter of practice... listen for it enough (and I mean PICK OUT the chords - know what you're listening for!) and you get stronger at it.

    I may not be able to tell you, "That note is a C#" but I can certainly tell you what chords are used, and reproduce it faithfully. Once I know the tonic (bottom note of the scale) I can reproduce the song beginning to end without losing the key or going off-tune. But it takes practice.... and a certain amount of natural music ability.

    Of course, if you're here because you compose - you have at least some of that ability.
    "AAAAUUUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!" -- Charlie Brown

  3. #3

    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    I don't think you can learn absolute pitch. It's something you are born with - either you got it or you ain't got it. Unfortunately I ain't got it .

    But you can certainly improve your relative pitch with solfege studies. There are excellent programs - like Earope - for this purpose. Just Google for Solfege.

    I believe your experience with hearing notes is a result of such improved relative pitch. It's like the bandwidth gets narrower and your perception of the notes intensify, when you tune in on the notes. You may experience something similar with the rhythm, the timing.

    By the way, I don't hope you're actually hearing any humming when you play a note. This could be a sign of a beginning Tinnitus, and believe me, you don't want that!

  4. #4

    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    hiya Nickie - from what i've read in various forums it seems that quite a number of people have learned it! i just hope i'm on the right track.

  5. #5

    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    I honestly can't say as it would improve my music over a good sense of relative pitch. Really, what's the benefit besides as a parlor trick? As BlueMax points out, if you know the tonic and can hear the intervals, then you can make the calculations in your head.

    Actually, more often than not, I hear that absolute/perfect pitch is burdensome on the ears.

    - m
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  6. #6

    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    Perfect pitch can absolutley be learned. If you are a performer it is very useful. How about being able to tune without a tuner? It is especially useful if one is a singer.

    To learn perfect pitch:

    When you are about to leave for work (or class) play a middle C on a piano and hum the note to yourself. (Make sure the piano is well in tune) Remember how it feels to hum it and the timbre of your voice.

    Try not to listen to the radio in the car. Keep the note in mind. If possible at several intervals during the day, sound the pitch on a piano or other tuned instrument to remind yourself of the note.

    If you do this consistantly, after a while you will remember the pitch. Being able to identify the other pitches is just a matter of ear training.

    Perfect Pitch is another one of those things in music that people think is magical or inate, much like the ability to compose. It is not, it is learned through hard work and study. Some people just get it quicker.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  7. #7
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    Its also unable to be learned, regardless of the snakeoil claims and clotheless emporers out there. Too many scientific studies have been performed to suggest otherwise, and I have known TOO many great atonal solfege guru's that still don't have it. They are still incredible ears. From what I have researched, it is something you CAN get when you are under the age of 9 or so from exposure while the brain is still developing, and its much easier under 2 years of age. Some people also get partial absolute pitch - e.g. they were under reinforcement of only a few pitches of the scale when they were young. It is also something that you can loose as you get older, and something that can also go out of tune over time.

    The downside of AP, at least from what i have observed in others, is the tendancy to write or think in terms of the diatonic, and not sonically, or experimentally. And of course always hearing sound and relating it back to pitches you know - out of tune.

    Its a bit like autism in that it is a bit like paying attention to processing the details and not generalizing. Its not going to get you any closer to being a good composer and certainly not an artist. In the end, there are no guarantees on this road, and no easy paths.

  8. #8
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    This is not perfect pitch:



    Quote Originally Posted by jesshmusic
    ...Remember how it feels to hum it and the timbre of your voice...If you do this consistantly, after a while you will remember the pitch. Being able to identify the other pitches is just a matter of ear training...

  9. #9

    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    Like I said before, I disagree wholeheartedly and know people with PERFECT pitch who learned it, whether intentionally, or acquired it unintentionally. Perfect pitch is the abililty to recognize any pitch without assistance. The Professor who told me the above method has looked at several studies himself, and is a research guru.

    Like I said before, for some it comes so easily that little or no effort is required to learn it. Kind of like an epiphone.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  10. #10
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: learning absolute pitch - a question to those that have it or taught themselves

    Learning a reference pitch or a series of reference pitches is not perfect pitch, Believe and waste your time as you see fit. I've said what I know and what I honestly believe. If you want to go through this exercise, go ahead. No one is stopping you. And while you're doing that, or if you give up and fall back to becoming a solfege guru, I will be spending all my time writing and not thinking about your exercises.

    Good luck to you.

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