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Re: Perception as memory ...
I am seldom serious about anything I say; life is too short to be
taken seriously, and too serious to be taken lightly.
My reference point, as I noted, [ ... My experience with some others
with absolute pitch has been that they don't "hear" chords. One person
told me that she did tonal harmonic analysis not by hearing the chord
and its function, but by hearing the notes and doing a rapid [reverse
engineering] analysis.... ] was four people with whom I have had this
discussion. I did not reference "people with absolute pitch".
From the discussions with these four (and a few others), I am
considering that those with absolute pitch occupy a different
perceptual universe than the one I live in. Regrettably, I may have
tried to oversimplify the description. On occasion, special occasions,
I ask the following question: "At the end of the second movement of
the Beethoven Eighth Symphony, do you hear that the cadence, as a full-
close cadence, is successful?" I do not hear it thus; I hear the Ab
which occurs just before the end, even though it is 'canceled' by a
following A, as shifting the tonal center from Bb to Eb. Over the
years, three of my colleagues who have taught music theory have then
told me that they ... actually don't hear tonally. This is another
thread for another list.
The individual with enough theory and absolute pitch then told me that
s/he 'really couldn't tell' whether the key had changed, but the score
indicates that it hadn't. I don't know what to make of these anecdotes.
In one conversation about transposition and absolute pitch, two pieces
of information came out. The famous one about Britten's 'slipped'
pitch, where C major in his later life mapped out as B major, and the
other that compared transposition to being like reading in different
fonts, but this didn't make sense to me so I have not told anyone
I am not AP.
On 2009, Aug 24, at 4:23 PM, Diana Deutsch wrote:
You can't be serious in saying that people with absolute pitch don't
'hear' chords. It's true that we can pick out the names of notes
within a chord in addition to hearing it, but of course we perceive
pitch relationships at the same time.
I quote from Arthur Rubenstein's autobiography: 'My young years', in
which he describes an interview he had with the great Professor
Joachim when he was about four years old:
'First he asked me to call out the notes of many tricky chords he
struck on the piano, and then I had to prove my perfect ear in other
ways. And finally, I remember, he made me play back the beautiful
second theme of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony after he had hummed
it. I had to find the right harmonies, and later transpose the tune
into another tonality'.
Professor Diana Deutsch
Department of Psychology
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. #0109
La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA
On Aug 24, 2009, at 7:05 AM, Kevin Austin wrote:
Thanks for the reply.
My experience is that perception is unique and individual --
statistical in nature.
The training example is interesting. What I didn't mention is that
in three cases I 'tested', synesthetes, all three with absolute
pitch and absolute color, they did not have the sensation of
integration of the 10-note chord. They simple named the 10 notes in
ascending order on hearing the sound for under a second. My
experience with some others with absolute pitch has been that they
don't "hear" chords. One person told me that she did tonal harmonic
analysis not by hearing the chord and its function, but by hearing
the notes and doing a rapid [reverse engineering] analysis. All
three chose to be in the visual arts and keep music as a hobby.
One of the three prepared a 10 meter-long score of the first
movement of the Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste,
in graph form, by ear. Each pitch class was represented by a
different color (her color <-> pitch-class mapping). She reported
difficulty in only one place, in the lead-up to the central
(octave) unison, where certain inner voices appeared in the wrong
octave. I think this had to do with the quality of the recording
she was working from, and the (low) quality headphones she used.
She did this all with relative ease and I realized (again) how
dwarfish my own hearing is in such an environment.
At some point in this on-going discussion, there may be a topic on
continuous and quantized time. Another time maybe.