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AP of 5, rather than 12 (!)

>Martin Braun wrote:
>> ...this is not possible. There are millions of colors. Most of us,
>> however, would have an absolute memory of 12 colors. Color circles
>> of 12 colors are quite common and can be learned in a few minutes.
>> The 12 tones of our octave can not be learned in years (with
>> extremely rare exceptions), once you are older than 5-7 years
>An absolute memory of 12 colors corresponds to an absolute memory of
>pitch for 12 categories spanning the entire range of audible frequencies
>from 20-16.000 Hz (at my age). I suppose this can be learned in a few
>minutes. A hemitonic absolute pitch memory covering a musical relevant
>range of frequencies would correspond to an absolute memory of roughly
>90 color shades (only hue, same saturation and brightness).

Hmmm ... my mind won't settle ... Is 'absolute pitch' (perfect pitch)
learned, or 'triggered'? This year I had a very interesting student whose
sense of "interval" was very weak. I have found that this is often
associated with ap/pp. Since the individual never had to hear the 'color
of the interval' (because the notes were heard as segregated elements),
s/he hadn't developed a refined sense of 'interval'.

As it turned out (!) upon a little testing, she had (almost) ap/pp for
the notes C, D, E, G, A. She was born in Taiwan and had been raised in a
very conservative environment, not coming into contact with (much)
western european art music until her mid- late-teens.

Her pp/ap for the 5 notes was above 80-90%. For intervals, it was _very_
poor. Interestingly, I played the following notes ... (eg) D# --
identified as B; C# -- identified as F; F -- 'I don't know'; C# --
identified as C. She told me that having learned pentatonic music (ie as
per the previous discussion here), and not using F or B, she 'knew' that
notes that didn't fit, were either F or B. (Apparently she didn't know

This fits a particular model of 'exclusion' which many people exhibit
regarding "music / noise" (IME). While there is differentiation and
categorization of 'musical' sounds, the "excluded" set [noise] is
undifferentiated (at a verbal level).

>Date:    Sun, 6 May 2001 14:45:12 +0200
>From:    Martin Braun <nombraun@POST.NETLINK.SE>
>Subject: Re: Absolute frequency / Absolute color
>Christian, are you joking, or do you like to put me to a test?
>You wrote:
>"A hemitonic absolute pitch memory covering a musical relevant range of
>frequencies would correspond to an absolute memory of roughly 90 color
>shades (only hue, same saturation and brightness)."
>Small children, up to 5-7 years of age, only have to learn the 12 tones of
>ONE octave. We don't have more than these 12 tone names, by the way. When
>talking about different octaves we have to add an octave name to one of the
>12 tone names (A3, A4, A5, etc.). To my knowledge, all music cultures have
>tone-name systems of this type.

>Once a child has learned the 12 tones of one octave it can transpose them
>into all other octaves without problems. In tests, absolute-pitch possessors
>often commit octave errors, because they don't learn the tones of all
>octaves. They learn the tones of one octave and take them as the pattern for
>all other octaves.

Hmmm ... even more so!! ... this may be a new[er] definition of
"absolute", refering not to the sound(s), but the category of sound
(called pitch-class). Maybe (by this hypothesis), the 'correct' term
would be Absolute Pitch-Class .... in which case I would withdraw
'absolute frequency' as an alternative.

>Date:    Sun, 6 May 2001 12:37:12 -0700
>From:    Diana Deutsch <ddeutsch@UCSD.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Absolute frequency / Absolute color
>Actually you only need 12 categories for AP -at least for Western
>tonal music - because of  octave equivalence. Perception of
>differences in height between notes of the same pitch class are not
>related to AP.
>-Diana Deutsch

Hmmm ... the concept of "necessity" (read: need). If one deals with only
12 pc's, the model would need to be based on the concept of a circle,
rather than a linear representation (?) -- enter Shepherd's tones
(registral uncertainty) -- not unlike a 'sound version' of the rotating
barbershop pole. (Ooops! Does that 'age' me too much? Maybe there aren't
any more barbershop poles ... or barbershops [?!] (having been to only
one in the past 30 years, I haven't noticed).)

>Date:    Sun, 6 May 2001 23:14:41 +0200
>From:    Alexandra Hettergott <a.hettergott@WANADOO.FR>
>Subject: Re: Absolute frequency / Perfect Pitch ??
>Christian Spevak wrote :
>>Has anybody heard of people having an "absolute" perception of (shades
>>of) colors? Maybe painters? Ok, this is an auditory list...

>Well, Imho that the comparison color / pitch value is a valid one in
>this regard : we do (quasi) 'naturally' have something like an
>'absolute' memory for colors (so as for (as usual) different shades of,
>e.g., red / blue / green / gray ..., in general we don't have any
>difficulties to recognize any of these (basic) colors as such), while in
>the analogous (pitch) case this is yet the exception rather than the
>rule ;

My (very weak) understanding is that the rods and cones provide 'basic'
red / green information. Is color-blindness in the eye (receptor) or
brain (interpretor)? This analogy can be carried as to where
'tone-deafness' occurs.

Is tone-deafness the 'opposite' of ap/pp?