Re: any examples of acquired absolute pitch? (Eliot Handelman )

Subject: Re: any examples of acquired absolute pitch?
From:    Eliot Handelman  <eliot@xxxxxxxx>
Date:    Sat, 19 Apr 2008 00:03:19 -0400

Anthony Knittel wrote: > Hi, i've found some interesting comments on absolute pitch on this > mailing list and was wondering if anyone has heard of any examples of > people who have acquired absolute pitch somehow during their later > lives, ie not in early childhood development. > > There is a clear trend between absolute pitch (AP) and autism, and > many autistic savants with musical talents (which tend to be more in > terms of music reproduction ability than creative composition) that > have been examined also have AP. There are numerous examples of people > who have acquired special abilities such as those exhibited by > autistic savants as a result of injury or other non-developmental > processes. I haven't however heard of any examples of people who have > acquired AP later in life, it would be very useful if anyone knows of > any examples. I'm an example, acquiring AP when I was about 42. I am a composer & this was during a protracted retreat to the garret, which became very emotionally intense. The AP onset was unexpected: 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; it was qualitatively much different, as if direct -- a bit as if the name of the pitch presented itself as the "timbral quality" of that pitch. (I jhad not previously percieved "timbral qualities" in pitch as such prior to this). Over the next few months the effect was intermittent, but then gradually strengthened to include the other pitches. Ten yrs later I still have it. One of my theories about this is I may have had something like AP agnosia, in case such a thing is thinkable (by definition it is not). But it seems more plausible to me that the AP trigger was a combination of prolonged & very intense distress, coupled to equally intense musical dedication. It would not surprise me to learn that we enjoy particular neural plasticity during periods of intense anxiety. Consider the personality changes of people subjected to brainwashing, as eg during the Korean war -- see eg R. J. Lifton's studies. -- eliot

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