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Later -life AP (was: Re: AUDITORY Digest - 18 Apr 2008 to 19 Apr 2008 (#2008-84))

Daniel Levitin wrote:

I wrote:
>> I'm an example, acquiring AP when I was about 42. . .one
>> day listening to some music I became aware that
>> every time I heard a "b" I knew exactly what it was. It was not like
>> knowing a pitch by remembering the last time you heard it;

> I believe this is an example of what in the literature (going back to
> Bachem, 1954) is referred to as "quasi-Absolute Pitch," which is, by
> definition, when a person has "AP" for a single note or two.

I did not imply this. When I said "the other pitches followed" I meant
that I heard them all  "absolutely."

> It's not clear from Eliot's description if the other notes he
> eventually acquired were identified with reference to this first note,
> in which case he has AP for a single note and used his excellent sense
> of RP (relative pitch) from there.  
No, because as I mentioned there is a qualitative distinction for me in
perceiving pitch "with pitch" & "without."  This is an
ongoing issue for me because  I sometimes hear very clearly & sometimes
in the indefinite, pre-AP way.  To hear clearly is not just to
know the label but, as I mentioned, to feel the label as part of the
identity of the pitch. To "know a pitch relatively" is not qualitatively
the same thing at all. My labelling is the outcome of the way I hear pitch.

AP is a sort of pitch gnosis, I think: it's like the difference between
seeing a triangle "as" a triangle &  concluding that there is a triangle
because you have counted the sides.  (Viz. some Sacks story about
restored vision after cataract operations.) In my case, it's
plausible that RP (ie counting) does play some role (and I think it
does); but it would be as if you saw 2 sides of a triangle, 
deduced the third,  & then suddenly saw the whole. In other words, with
RP or without there is still a qualitative
distinction between hearing pitch or not. 

> If in fact Eliot acquired it, he would be the only case I know of an
> adult who did.
Ah -- so I could be like a Tiresias of absolute pitch then, since I'd be
the only one around who  knows
both states. As a matter of fact, I have a great deal to say about the
subject, but perhaps not now.

-- eliot