Re: Absolute pitch -- any examples of acquired absolute pitch? or losing AP - third option (Kevin Austin )

Subject: Re: Absolute pitch -- any examples of acquired absolute pitch? or losing AP - third option
From:    Kevin Austin  <kevin.austin@xxxxxxxx>
Date:    Mon, 21 Apr 2008 05:54:16 -0400

Dear list And there may be a third option that seems to satisfy both positions. The condition that I posit is that Eliot may have been (for example) a violinist as a child and did develop AP. At some point, he lost that condition, eg he lost the ability to identify color, through some form of traumatic / neurological incident. Later in life, his underlying mode of perception (AP) re-emerged. I posit this based upon my own experience where I do not feel that my 'heightened' aural skill 'developed' after a 45 year period of stasis, but rather, during my lucid dreaming condition, some disconnected parts of my mind/brain became re-connected. It seems to me that the first step would be to show conclusively that Eliot was not AP as a child. I am not AP, except that about 80% of the time I simply try to notate a pitch "out of thin air" it is either a fourth or a fifth off. 10% of the time it is right, 10% of the time it is about a third off. I attribute this pitch error to the fact that as a child I had two "lowest notes" in the music I made. My voice stopped at D above middle C, and on the recorder I only played down to the G above middle C. I also had trouble while listening to a single piano note determining whether to notate the fundamental or the third partial. I had to 'unlearn' over-sensitized hearing. Maybe Eliot unlearned AP, so both Daniel and Eliot are "right". Best Kevin > Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2008 15:41:23 -0400 > From: Eliot Handelman <eliot@xxxxxxxx> > Subject: Later -life AP (was: Re: AUDITORY Digest - 18 Apr 2008 to > 19 Apr 2008 (#2008-84)) > > Daniel Levitin wrote: > > I wrote: >>> I'm an example, acquiring AP when I was about 42. . .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; >> > >> I believe this is an example of what in the literature (going back to >> Bachem, 1954) is referred to as "quasi-Absolute Pitch," which is, by >> definition, when a person has "AP" for a single note or two. > > I did not imply this. When I said "the other pitches followed" I meant > that I heard them all "absolutely." > > >> It's not clear from Eliot's description if the other notes he >> eventually acquired were identified with reference to this first >> note, >> in which case he has AP for a single note and used his excellent >> sense >> of RP (relative pitch) from there. > No, because as I mentioned there is a qualitative distinction for me > in > perceiving pitch "with pitch" & "without." This is an > ongoing issue for me because I sometimes hear very clearly & > sometimes > in the indefinite, pre-AP way. To hear clearly is not just to > know the label but, as I mentioned, to feel the label as part of the > identity of the pitch. To "know a pitch relatively" is not > qualitatively > the same thing at all. My labelling is the outcome of the way I hear > pitch. > > > AP is a sort of pitch gnosis, I think: it's like the difference > between > seeing a triangle "as" a triangle & concluding that there is a > triangle > because you have counted the sides. (Viz. some Sacks story about > restored vision after cataract operations.) In my case, it's > plausible that RP (ie counting) does play some role (and I think it > does); but it would be as if you saw 2 sides of a triangle, > deduced the third, & then suddenly saw the whole. In other words, > with > RP or without there is still a qualitative > distinction between hearing pitch or not. > > >> If in fact Eliot acquired it, he would be the only case I know of an >> adult who did. > Ah -- so I could be like a Tiresias of absolute pitch then, since > I'd be > the only one around who knows > both states. As a matter of fact, I have a great deal to say about the > subject, but perhaps not now. > > -- eliot > > ------------------------------ > > Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2008 23:37:00 -0400 > From: Kevin Austin <kevin.austin@xxxxxxxx> > Subject: 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@xxxxxxxx> >> 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

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