Re: perfect pitch (Diana Deutsch )

Subject: Re: perfect pitch
From:    Diana Deutsch  <ddeutsch(at)UCSD.EDU>
Date:    Mon, 7 May 2001 14:00:00 -0700

>Hi > >In my experience, people with perfect pitch (sic) live on a different >planet from people without. I'm not sure where this 'not transposing >[well]' myth originated, but it might be that PP'ers 'hear' and then work >out the 'relationships', whereas non-PP'ers hear the relationships, and >then have to work out what they have heard (that's me!). > >Also, many of the PP'ers I have met are also synesthetes. Are you? > >Best > >Kevin >kaustin(at) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi Kevin, Yes, I do have strong color associations with notes (though I don't hallucinate the colors!). I don't see why people with perfect pitch need to use it in order to work out pitch relationships - there's no reason why the two processes can't take place in parallel. Concerning the matter of 'octave errors', one might expect these to occur in particular when you are listening to different types of instrument - either simultaneously or in succession. You have to decide which octave to attribute depending on the instrument being played, because you are dealing with different spectral compositions. Now one might argue that these instrumental differences are simple a matter of timbre. However, when one is asked to arrange a number of instrument tones in terms of height, with each tone at A 440, the differences in perceived height become very clear. The following demonstration works well. Begin with a full harmonic series, with a fundamental at, say A 220, with the components at equal amplitude. Then smoothly glide down the amplitudes of the odd-numbered harmonics until you are left with only the even-numbered ones. At this point you now have a full harmonic series with A 440 as the fundamental - and you have moved up an octave. Notice that as you play this changing tone its height glides smoothly up in pitch, though you remain throughout in the same pitch class, bypassing the other notes of the chromatic scale. (This demo is fun to play with - there is often a hysteresis effect, so that when play the changing note backwards the point at which you decide that you are in a different octave occurs further 'down' than when you play it forwards.) Best, Diana >------------------------------------------------------------------------- > > > >>Dear Kevin, >> >>Thanks for your note. As someone who has perfect pitch (though it's >>become less reliable of late) it seems that it is the subject of an >>amazing amount of misunderstanding. The idea that perfect pitch is >>associated with an inability to transpose is one that I've come >>across many times, and I wonder how they think that Mozart managed - >>or most of the 'great' classical composers for that matter. >> >>Best, >> >>Diana > > >> >>> >Dear Kevin, >>>> >>>>I just read your note in the Auditory List about perfect pitch and >>>>wonder if you have the reference to the Liszt story. >>>> >>>>Best regards, >>>> >>>>Diana > >>>Greetings! >>> >>>It's one of those 'stories' that I've carried around in my head for 25 >>>(or so) years. There's probably a "Virtuoso Pianists"-List (oops!) and >>>someone there c/sh/would know. >>> >>>OT: I also got an email from someone asking what the difference was >>>between perfect pitch and relative pitch -- I gave a short answer and >>>directed them to the list. -- Diana Deutsch Professor of Psychology Department of Psychology University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093, USA tel: 858-453-1558 fax: 858-453-4763 e-mail: ddeutsch(at) dd(at)

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