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Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:00 pm by Dan

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Perfect Pitch -- The mystery revealed

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Perfect Pitch -- The mystery revealed

Post  Dan on Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:59 am

Most commonly perfect pitch is described as an ability held only by those lucky enough to have been born with perfect pitch. Well,that is partly true but also misleading.

Perfect pitch is having the ability to hear a note and name it. The key word is name. A name is assigned to a sound.

Here are some examples of sounds which we have given names:

Doorbell
Cordless phone ringer and our corded phone ringer
Cell phone ringer
Car horn
Lawnmower
Jet engine
Typewriter bell
Vacumn cleaner ( B range. Try it with a guitar tuner )
Mother-in-law
Car horn

In each case we have assigned a name or even a combination of name and feeling associated with each sound.
For someone with perfect pitch, each sound also has the name of a note.Or several notes as in a chord. The chord may not be pleasing but it is still a chord. Two or more notes sounded together either at once or in sequence. As when The Three Stooges sang "Larry, Curly, Moe!" and formed a chord with their names sung in sequence.

The person with perfect pitch has learned to associate names with musical notes. That is the essence of perfect pitch. A way of thinking of it is that musical notes are the alphabet of a language. This brings to mind an article I read some time ago which in mentioning
gives a very good example of how the belief that perfect pitch is exclusive to those born with it.

In the article the author states that people with perfect pitch are able at the age of one year and up to hear an F# and know it is an F#.

Here is the flaw. We are not born knowing our alphabet has 26 letters. And we do not know our alphabet until it is taught to us. Of
course the infant could hear an F# but with no prior knowledge there is no means for an infant to provide the name of F#. The sound is heard but not yet classified.

We all know that learning a language when you are a small child is always easier than in later years. So learning perfect pitch as an
adult will be no easier than learning to speak expertly in a language other than your own. There are products available which the sellers claim will help you learn perfect pitch. A popular item is a compact disc set which is priced at around $150.00 or so.

My advice for someone wishing to learn perfect pitch is to understand before buying any learning aid, that perfect pitch is simply knowing the name of the sound you are hearing.

Clarification needed
Having perfect pitch is not required for playing a musical instrument or for singing.
Perfect pitch is all about hearing and language comprehension, not muscle memory and dexterity.

Here is an easy exercise to build on the above sentence.

Think of a song you like. Except for not remembering the complete
song, your mental version of it sounds exactly like the song on record.

Dan
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