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Re: Perfect Pitch Problem


Your observation about color and pitch naming is apt, and I would add that
the REASON people don't talk in terms of relative color is that we have
"categorical perception" for color.   In other words, the wavelength of
light can change quite a bit before we notice a change in color; we tend to
lump large variations in color into a single category.  This is not so for
pitch.  Changes in wavelength (or frequency) are easily heard as changes in
pitch and there is abundant evidence that not even absolute pitch
possessors have categorical perception for pitch (see Burns & Cambpell,
JASA, 1994, for example, or my 1996 dissertation).

Often when APers are taught to use relative pitch it is difficult for both
them and their teachers.  A few APers claim to have accomplished this, but
to my knowledge there has not yet been enough research on this topic.


Daniel J. Levitin, M.Sc., Ph.D. Phone: (650) 723-4971
CCRMA/Dept. of Music    FAX:  (650) 723-8468
Stanford University     email: levitin@ccrma.stanford.edu
Stanford, CA  94305

Visiting Scholar, Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics

Home Page: http://www-ccrma.stanford.edu/~levitin


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