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Absolute pitch -- any examples of acquired absolute pitch? or losing AP



The terminology and differences have been discussed here before. The idea is whether the identification is measured against an
'internal' value (absolute) or an external (relative). RED is labeled by most people based upon an 'internal' value, as is 'salt' or 'sweet'. It will have another name in another language.


The people with absolute pitch who I have discussed this with seem not to have "heard" intervals, but rather the two notes independently. I am told that they hear the three notes of the triad and "work out" it's name -- it's not a 'color' (integrated sound object).

Of interest would be examples of people who have lost AP. Would they be able to identify intervals? If the analogy holds, then it may be like someone who loses color vision and only sees in grey scale.

Like Eliot, I am well aware (as Oliver Sachs also points out) that hearing can change under conditions of stress, or the like. After a bout of very lucid dreaming (in a car accident), my 'hearing' began to improve remarkably after having largely stayed 'stuck' for 45 years. I have developed a much more x-ray sonic perceptual ability which I attribute (in lay terms) to the 'connecting of parts of my waking and sleeping states'. To get a sense of the level shift ... I used to have some difficulty with the textures of later Eliot Carter and works such as gruppen (Stockhausen). These pieces are now much easier for me to hear in many many layers, and nineteenth century tonal music (pre- Parsifal) is simply easy.




Date:    Sat, 19 Apr 2008 08:34:51 +0100
From:   <jia10@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: any examples of acquired absolute pitch?


Hi Susan,

I believe this is exactly why the older term of "perfect pitch" was substituted with the newer term of "absolute pitch", which is not meant to imply that the Western tonal system has any more value than other musical tonal systems, e.g. India. Or at least, that is my understanding. There are of course many individuals with AP who are not raised within the Western tonal system, and indeed, if the evidence is to be believed, the incidence of AP may well be significantly higher in speakers of tone languages, like Mandarin and Korean, perhaps because they associate pitch with verbal labels early on, as Deutsch suggests. Whether or not it is of any "use" to them for non-speech purposes, in the way that it is to performers of Western music, is perhaps the more interesting question?

Let's not get too hung up on the terminology.

Jose