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Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

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Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Rickard on Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:17 pm

I'm a little bit confused about perfect pitch to say the least. Some people claim that it's something that some people are born with while others say perfect picth is something to learn and that everyone can learn it. Andrew for example says that with "mind play" you will eventually aquire perfect pitch. So what are your takes on it? Have any of you guys and girls perfect pitch? If you do have, is it something you consider you were born with or have you learnt it somehow?

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Alistair123 on Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:45 pm

Perfect Pitch is something I've never really cared about developing. I think you can develop a very good pitch by training you ear. But the word "perfect", I dunno. I'd think that some people are born with more "talent" in that area then others. People are born with phenomenal talents in different things.
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by VictorCS on Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:31 pm

People born in countries where they have a pitch language, like the asian countries, have a much higher chance at getting perfect pitch. Research have figured out that this is probably something that gets developed very early in life.

No adult have ever been able to learn him/herself perfect pitch.

Relative pitch on the other hand is clearly something you can learn, and you can become good at it. And if you're good at relative pitching, you can pick up most songs by ear pretty quickly.

After playing BioShock I can always here it when a C5 chord is played, but still no perfect pitch Sad
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by pianoplaya on Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:37 pm

How do you even go about trying to get relative pitch? Do you just do like what andrew said once (at least i think it was him) where you can have someone play a note and guess what it is? There must be better ways than just listening to the same note over and over xD

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Alistair123 on Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:58 pm

The more you play AND liston, the better your ear will become. Andrew recommends at least 5 mins of Ear Training a day. That can be just getting somebody to play a note to see if you can recognize it. You could also just close your eyes, move around and then play a note yourself.
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by pianoplaya on Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:01 pm

Yeah that's what I thought, good ol' practice practice practice haha I gotta start doing that because it would be really helpful to have relative pitch

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Rickard on Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:09 am

I recomend that you use this free ear training program for relative pitch:

http://www.trainear.com/

It also got some other interesting things except for relative pitch ear training modes, such as perfect pitch ear training, indentifying scales, piano memory game and so on.
I recomend that you check out this video to get a basic understanding of how the program works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3kC_lYLAZw&fmt=18

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by pianoplaya on Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:37 am

That actually does look like a pretty awesome program. Should help

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by PaperDesigner on Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:23 am

I'm majoring in music at a small university, and my favorite prof there is dead set against perfect pitch. But I do believe it can be developed; all you need is the auditory memory to be able to recall what a C sounds like. I think, because it's relatively commonly heard, that I can recall what a C sounds like. If I spent time developing my auditory memory, so that I could easily recall what twelve separate pitches sound like, and be able to hear it up and down multiple octaves, I can simply compare notes I hear to that mental frame of reference. If you develop a very strong auditory memory, you should be able to develop perfect pitch. But the real question is... why would you want to? Music changes keys all the time, not all instruments are tuned the same (indeed, tuning today is different than it was hundreds of years ago; not all "A"s are equal), and there are instances where spontaneous key changes will occur; I was in a choir once where the accompanist began playing the piece in the same key from the previous piece, which was quite a bit lower, so everyone was singing lower in the range than the piece was written. It felt physically low, but we all adapted, because our ears (not everyone there was a music major) were relative and easy to adapt.

But it's really relative pitch that is useful. It allows you to recognize a piece regardless of what key it is written in, play a piano that is tuned a half-tone high or low without trouble, transpose more naturally, and generally not get stuck on the accuracy of an instrument to A440 tuning.

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by rbacl on Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:27 pm

I think I have read that various Asian peoples have an easier time with pitch, because their languages are tonal, which means that from toddlers, when the brain is totally plastic, they are absorbing information by tones as well as other forms, so they have more mental hooks for tones.

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Rickard on Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:38 pm

I'm pretty convinced that perfect pitch can be learnt after all.
The best motivation for this is found in the Fundamentals of Piano Practice:
http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book/en/1.III.12

I am currently trying to learn Absolute (Perfect) Pitch by learning Mental Play and I actually recognize the pitches better and better the more I practice it. I'm currently practicing a separate piece for MP and AP but once I've learnt the MP for it and maybe one more "separate piece" and after that I will try to integrate the MP to every piece I learn.

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by VictorCS on Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:20 pm

Ever heard of a grown man that've "learned" perfect pitch? I havent, and google havent. Relative pitch on the other hand can be learned. I myself can transcribe pretty easy now, but I usually need a reference key to find the correct key.
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Rickard on Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:26 pm

VictorCS wrote:Ever heard of a grown man that've "learned" perfect pitch? I havent, and google havent. Relative pitch on the other hand can be learned. I myself can transcribe pretty easy now, but I usually need a reference key to find the correct key.
Did you even read the part of the fundamentals of piano practice that I've linked? Do you have any proof that adults can't learn perfect pitch?

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by VictorCS on Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:13 pm

There are alot of classes out there teaching people "Perfect Pitch". But I guess most of em are scams, and even those who aint have a hard time convinsing me.

Huge text wall, but alot of information and research:
http://www.pnas.org/content/104/37/14795.full

One that supports genes:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090702170209.htm

One that says environment might play a bigger role than genes, but does not say much about if certain genes boosts the ability to get the skill:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519172202.htm

This thread doesnt sound to promising either ( about learning how to aquire AP ):
http://www.guitartrade.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3935&sid=aa08e005909cc6b95811f9399af74cf2&start=20
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Rickard on Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:23 am

Well, either way I'm going to use MP to memorize any new pieces soon and I think it will lead to AP if I pay attention to MPing on the correct pitches. Well it's up to you to decide if you want to learn Perfect Pitch or not. I mean, why would it be impossible to memorize the sounds of 12 seperate pitches?
Well I'm sure that AP and MP would help you with composing even better too. I can imagine that music sounds better once you have AP.

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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Liam19 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:44 am

VictorCS wrote:Ever heard of a grown man that've "learned" perfect pitch? I havent, and google havent. Relative pitch on the other hand can be learned. I myself can transcribe pretty easy now, but I usually need a reference key to find the correct key.

Did you ever see my thread?

http://afpa.hooxs.com/general-music-theory-f11/to-recognise-pitches-how-i-did-it-t1784.htm

I learnt at 16, now I know that's still a young age but probably older than most people? not sure. From my own thoughts, I think you can. Go and press a D, then press an E, I think the trick is to just really concentrate on that individual note, don't see it as just going higher in pitch, or lower in pitch. Like learning relative pitch, learning perfect pitch is a memory thing, you gotta train yourself. Give my thread a try if you like, I would like to hear if anyone tried it lol.

Listen to Andrew's playing of Minute Waltz, it starts with a G#, listen to that first note and remember it, rewind back and play and see if your memory could remember the pitch of the note he was going to play. Like if suddenly one day that one note changed in that video by magic, say to to a G, I'm sure you would recognise that change, because you would remember listening to it. What I really recommend knowing how to play a bit of a song or part of a song, and putting it to a note. E.g Minute Waltz starts with G#, when you go to play or hear a G#, think of Minute Waltz. Give a song for every note.

Sorry if I'm not explaining it right, but I'm sure it can be done. Smile

Oh, and I never had a lesson before, and learnt to recognise pitches before I could name them. And to be honest, it was thanks to messing around with built in songs on an unweighted 61 key keyboard. Smile
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by DecipherUK on Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:38 pm

I once heard that you're born with perfect pitch but the skill dwindles if it isn't trained, don't know how true that is but it's interesting.

I've found that while playing I've gradually learnt to pick up the pitch of more notes, and obviously notes that I play more often. For some casual training if I hear a song on the TV I jump to the piano and see if I can replicate the notes. I sing or hum along with music too, either trying to match the notes or harmonise.

I know it's not directly piano related pitch training but for me I think it's important to grind recognising notes in to your every day life! Smile
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Liam19 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:48 pm

Hey welcome, DecipherUK.

Keep doing what you are doing, you will probably recognise pitches even more. You do recognise notes you use often, thats why it's a good idea to see if you can relate songs or tunes to some of those notes you arn't that familar with, soon you'll recognise them all by ear.

It's strange to me, I heard perfect pitch can go if it isn't trained from a young age. But I had no musical training at all, still don't, but got a keyboard when I was 16 and learned how to do it.

Hey, music is all related in some way anyway I think, it's a skill that can be used in all instruments. Smile


Last edited by Liam19 on Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by DecipherUK on Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:08 pm

Yeah I agree, I think it can definitely be trained back up! Smile

We must have the ability to naturally recognise pitch to some degree, we hear certain notes or combinations and they send shivers down our spine even if we don't understand music.
I remember when I first heard Chopin's Nocturne 21, a small section that goes G, Bb, Ab made my spine crumble. I didn't know music at the time but I've always been able to recognise those notes since. So I think the skill is residing in each of us somewhere it just needs training! Very Happy
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by Liam19 on Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:17 pm

Yeah, did you come across my thread by any chance? I tried to tell how I did it. I'm only the same age as yourself so give it a try. Smile

Weird, music does that to me too, sometimes I hear a certain part and I get a shiver, what's up with that? Anything that makes me do that means I like it lol.

If you can recognise those notes, I'm pretty sure you can learn the rest, don't forget, when you learn the 12 notes, you pretty much have the whole keyboard learned. Smile

Also, when I first started, I just watched how the keys lighted up, looking at how it's played. I used to see if there was patterns through the music, kinda weird but since I had no idea abut music, I just started thinking my own stuff, but I think it helped. I think that instead of just playing it, think about what you're doing and listening to.

Also, play with your eyes closed now and again, and if you make a mistake, don't open your eyes. Instead try to hit the right key without looking, this is to concentrate with your ears instead of eyes. If you think you got it right, have a look and see if your right. I think this lead me to being able to recognise and hear pitches. I had no intention of doing so lol.

We gotta have perfect pitch inside of all us, my thinking is that if we didn't, wouldn't we just hear every note in music in one tone? haha lol!
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Re: Perfect Pitch, can it really be learnt?

Post by wasim on Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:44 pm

I believe that it can be developed and learned.

Try doing what I do it might help :
I listen carefully to the note in different octaves to figure out what sound is in common which gives it its shape or its uniqueness. Then I listen carefully to it until I can recogniz how it sounds and I also try to imagine it by giving it a shape or a picture in my mind. After that I try memorizing it, either by singing the note while playing it and then without playing it so it can stick in my mind, or by listing to it and than recalling it in mind.

Another way is to train your ear is to learn a song and memorize all the notes within, then play the song in your imagination so you would know what notes are there.

But because I don't train my ear much I forget the note I learn quickly ,.

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