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Re: On "learned" A/P, lattice / grid
Very interesting your observations on the "embodiment" of pitch
this is hot stuff for systematic musicology these days. (e.g. Marc
Leman's 'Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation Technology')
Perhaps AP's have just a better integration of their body and mind. ;-))
It all started with Descartes according to Damasio.
On 02 Sep 2009, at 23:47, Kevin Austin wrote:
Thank you for your comments, thoughts and suggestions.
I agree completely about concluding what a person (sorry, there are
no subjects in my life) cannot do, under any circumstances. As
previously noted, I am a composer and teacher, not a scientist. My
teaching, IMV, has improved through my close and continuous
observation of what and how students learn.
Have I spent a year trying to find my 'latent' propensity / capacity
A little more than a year, and in various ways. Many years ago (in
high school), I played tuba. In my second year I was given some
lessons from a professional tuba teacher who wanted to test my
hearing, so he played notes all over the range of the tuba. I knew I
couldn't figure them out without seeing his fingering, but I tried.
I duplicated them all over a range of a little more than 3 octaves,
including notes I had never played before.
I did not consider this AP, but (later) rather as 'instrumental /
body pitch'. In testing in-coming ear-training students over a
period of about 15 years, my first question to string players was:
"Name this note." The usual response was, "I don't have perfect
pitch." I would ask the student to 'pretend hold' their violin or
bass, and to bow the note as I played it on the piano. Almost all
(!) could tell me the name of the note from this 'positioning' of
their body. As with my experience with a number of other
instrumentalists, it is as if the pitch were "learned" by their body.
I also taught theory and ear-training recently for about a decade.
Every class (twice per week per course, up to three courses per
week), began with the class standing in a circle and singing a 'D' I
played on the piano. It became a bit of a joke, but one I took very
seriously. By about 15 weeks into the courses, on occasion I would
ask the class to sing (with the piano), but now to focus on the
visualization of standing in this room, and looking outside at the
parking lot. The next step was to have the student, when at home,
close their eyes, visualize the classroom and parking lot, and
unaided, sing the D. I did not count the number of students who
could recall the D with the aid of the visualization -- a great
many!, but this too, I do not consider AP.
There were other 'body pitch' exercises I did with the classes, week
in and week out, and the pitch referents students began to develop
grew. But, in my forty some-odd years of teaching, Eliot is the only
person who has told me about late-onset AP.
Regarding the speed of perception of pitches, there are legion
anecdotes about composers and conductors ability to "do the
impossible". Boulez is an example of a conductor who is reported to
have found a printing error in an Eb clarinet part in a Schoenberg
score. From people who have worked with him, I have understood that,
like Messiaen, he has amazing discriminatory powers, streaming and
disassembling what 'mere mortals' might hear as integrated sounds.
This is possibly a bit like detecting typographical errors. If I
hear a C major triad played forte and doubled over may octaves, my
hearing is such that I can rather easily pick out an added D, played
mezzopiano in an upper octave. It doesn't "fit" and shifts the color
(chroma?) towards Aaron Copland. If the chord is less densely
packaged, I hear Stravinsky of the mid-1940s, or perhaps Agon. But,
if later, the same chord is played on D, I will know it's the same
chord, but not know that it has been transposed.
Again, many thanks for the article and the most informative
obituary. What a marvelous man Jack Carroll must have been to work
with. I guess I first came across his work (in the early 70s) when
he had edited selections for Whorf's "Language, Thought and
Reality", a book that has had fundamental impact on my education.
On 2009, Sep 2, at 12:22 PM, Leon van Noorden wrote:
I think it is very dangerous to conclude from what a subject can
do, what it is he cannot do.
Labeling pitches can only be done with the speed of internal speech
and this is, as we know from the famous one page publication by Tom
Landauer, as fast as really pronounced speech. However in music
there are many more voices and often notes that are faster than
syllables. All these notes are perceived in a holistic manner,
exactly as happens in a non-AP subject.
If it AP existed in Brady in a covert way chances are that it
existed in you and all other people too. Did you spend a year to
find it back?
On 02 Sep 2009, at 16:53, Kevin Austin wrote:
Thank you. The article is very interesting and informative.
From Parncutt & Levitin, Absolute Pitch: (abstracted)
They, AP possessors, may work out integrated qualities
(intervals and chords) by reconstructing them from the notes
(note names), rather than perceiving an 'integrated' sonority
(Miyazaki, 1992, 1993). There is the proposition that "melody"
is not heard, but rather a string of pitches passing by.
An equivalent to this for non-AP people would be to read a chinese
text, with a knowledge of how chinese characters are constructed
(radicals and combinations), but having no sense of what the
characters mean, or how they relate.
This seems to correspond to the statement:
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 2009 17:20:33 +0200
From: Leon van Noorden <leonvannoorden@xxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: Linearity as pitch perception: was Perception as
It was true in the time that I had to make music dictations, very
long ago, that I had to reconstruct the interval or chord from
the notes. It does not mean that you could not say what kind of
chord it was from the sound, such a major or minor.
As a non-AP listener, I hear (only) sets of relationships, and I
have developed large numbers of 'musical hierarchies' to
categorize these relationships. My hearing is (more or less)
pattern-based, what I refer to as 'process-oriented listening'. I
note repetition, variation, transformation, lattice / pattern
In the article cited, P T Brady says that he 'taught himself' AP
-- an idea that many have difficulty with. Count me in this group.
As with Eliot Handelman, my alternate interpretation is that the
AP existed, but some aspects of it had been extinguished for some
reason, and he had re-discovered it with a one year re-training.