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Wish you had perfect pitch? You may be able to learn it


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New Scientist June 9 2018

 

MOZART and Beethoven are both said to have had it. The same is said of Mariah Carey. Now a study suggests that some adults may be able to learn perfect pitch in just a few weeks of training.

Many musicians can identify notes in relation to a reference note. For instance, if they hear the note C and are told it is C, they will be able to identify G. But only a few have absolute pitch – also known as perfect pitch – which is the ability to identify any note without a reference note.

"It is a tremendous advantage," says musician Rick Beato. People with absolute pitch can play or write down any tune they hear, or just sit down and compose music without needing an instrument.

It is thought that only around 1 in 10,000 people have this ability, and that if a person doesn't learn perfect pitch before the age of around 8, they never will. However, when Stephen Van Hedger of the University of Chicago and his colleagues attempted to train six people in absolute pitch, two of them improved considerably (bioRxivdoi.org/cqjn).

The training – which took four hours a week, for eight weeks – involved listening to notes, trying to identify them and finding out if the guesses were correct. At the start, the two people who showed most improvement scored under 40 per cent on tests of absolute pitch. By the end they scored 98 per cent or more. One of them scored 100 per cent. "He passed the strongest test we could throw at him," says Van Hedger.

But some are sceptical. The two volunteers who improved had music lessons in childhood, notes Seung-Goo Kim at the University of Cambridge. "In other words, this study shows that absolute pitch can be refined in some adults by training if they already have 'latent' absolute pitch."

"There are a lot of people who don't know they have perfect pitch," says Beato.

This article appeared in print under the headline "You really can make yourself pitch perfect"

Michael Le Page

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New Scientist June 9 2018

 

MOZART and Beethoven are both said to have had it. The same is said of Mariah Carey. Now a study suggests that some adults may be able to learn perfect pitch in just a few weeks of training.

Many musicians can identify notes in relation to a reference note. For instance, if they hear the note C and are told it is C, they will be able to identify G. But only a few have absolute pitch – also known as perfect pitch – which is the ability to identify any note without a reference note.

"It is a tremendous advantage," says musician Rick Beato. People with absolute pitch can play or write down any tune they hear, or just sit down and compose music without needing an instrument.

It is thought that only around 1 in 10,000 people have this ability, and that if a person doesn't learn perfect pitch before the age of around 8, they never will. However, when Stephen Van Hedger of the University of Chicago and his colleagues attempted to train six people in absolute pitch, two of them improved considerably (bioRxivdoi.org/cqjn).

The training – which took four hours a week, for eight weeks – involved listening to notes, trying to identify them and finding out if the guesses were correct. At the start, the two people who showed most improvement scored under 40 per cent on tests of absolute pitch. By the end they scored 98 per cent or more. One of them scored 100 per cent. "He passed the strongest test we could throw at him," says Van Hedger.

But some are sceptical. The two volunteers who improved had music lessons in childhood, notes Seung-Goo Kim at the University of Cambridge. "In other words, this study shows that absolute pitch can be refined in some adults by training if they already have 'latent' absolute pitch."

"There are a lot of people who don't know they have perfect pitch," says Beato.

This article appeared in print under the headline "You really can make yourself pitch perfect"

Michael Le Page


Perfect pitch isn’t a great help, though. A professional singer I know who makes concerts several times each year says she would probably not be able to stand some orchestras she has to work with if she had perfect pitch.

Many, if not most, opera singers do not have perfect pitch. Usually it works just fine. Until they get slightly distracted. Then you might hear the orchestra cease playing for awhile, while the singer continues, and when the orchestra starts up again it can be a bit awkward when the singer is a little bit out of tune.
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Perfect pitch? My first thought, baseball, or music? I’m hopeless. Wellll, maybe not. With Jehovah’s help, I’m thinking all on the earth will achieve perfect pitch on day. As singing is a part of our worship. I’m the meantime, Jehovah, and the friends put up with my singing. 

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What helps, too, is if people would really just sing more.  In reality, being truly tone deaf is rather rare.  Most people can't sing because the *don't* sing.  We often marvel at the beautiful voices of regular people in other cultures - African and Polynesian come to mind.  They're not necessarily genetically gifted with amazing voices, but since music and singing is just part of everyday life and valued culturally, there is more incentive to develop one's ear and voice.

 

We see little children - they sing and dance with abandon, no matter where they're from.  Only after a certain age, depending on the culture, they stop singing and dancing so freely to the point of becoming self-conscious.  :(  Then, they may lose what ability they had altogether.  Fortunately, that's not really permanent if you don't want it to be.  We can all get better at things we practice, right?

 

We don't even have to be "perfect"... :)   

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22 minutes ago, Hope said:

What helps, too, is if people would really just sing more.  In reality, being truly tone deaf is rather rare.  Most people can't sing because the *don't* sing.  We often marvel at the beautiful voices of regular people in other cultures - African and Polynesian come to mind.  They're not necessarily genetically gifted with amazing voices, but since music and singing is just part of everyday life and valued culturally, there is more incentive to develop one's ear and voice.

 

We see little children - they sing and dance with abandon, no matter where they're from.  Only after a certain age, depending on the culture, they stop singing and dancing so freely to the point of becoming self-conscious.  :(  Then, they may lose what ability they had altogether.  Fortunately, that's not really permanent if you don't want it to be.  We can all get better at things we practice, right?

 

We don't even have to be "perfect"... :)   

My sister and I used to sing in the kitchen while doing the dishes, We sang Kingdom song, popular songs, movie themes, old-time songs like "My Grandfathers Clock. " We could really belt them out. We had a great time until... My father, with a total lack of feeling, made an insensitive loud comment to our Mother "Those kids sure can sing, it's too bad the can't carry a tune." If you are a gawky skinny red-haired freckle face kid it does not take very much to cut deeply into the already reduced self-esteem. From then on I never sang out unless my voice was hidden in the crowd. :(

Thirty years later this song almost brought tears the first time I heard it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjN4_A5UqQA

 

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It is said that Elvis Presley had perfect pitch.

 

I was told once that I could learn to sing - I was told this by some members of Barbershop Quartets. Well, maybe .... but, since I no longer have good hearing I doubt that would still be true

 

Now, as for this:

30 minutes ago, Thesauron said:

But what do you do when a brother sings so loud and out of tune that it becomes so hard to hear the other singers in the congregation, not to mention the music?

Check out this post

 

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1 hour ago, Thesauron said:

But what do you do when a brother sings so loud and out of tune that it becomes so hard to hear the other singers in the congregation, not to mention the music?

 

What *I* do is focus on my own singing, even putting a finger in the ear closest to the tuneless one so I can hear myself and the music better... and commend the brother for his enthusiasm and participation!  :D 

 

What do *you* do?

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When singing at the Hall,  I don't usually sing very loud. I don't really have a very good singing voice and sometimes I am unable to stay with the highs and lows of the music. I think the term is 'range', but I don't know for sure. 

 

Denise has a beautiful singing voice and I try to match her volume so we sound ok as a team.

 

I have had to step it up a few times, we have attended Meetings at other Congregations and have gone to memorials for family that have died and oftimes folks just aren't up to the task.

I recall one memorial when we were seated in the library with about 8 or 10 others,  the song came on and it was almost silent in the room,  there was only some half hearted voices to be heard.  

Denise and I looked at each other after a few seconds and we both came to the same conclusion,  raise our volume... By the end of the song it was pretty loud in that little room, even if it wasn't perfectly pitched.

 

There's a Sister in our Congregation that sings harmony,  she isn't real loud so I don't usually hear her.

A couple of weeks ago we sat close to her and her grandson and it was pretty neat to hear them.

  He isn't shy about singing loud and they sound great together.  We were 2 rows behind them and Denise and I both tried to match with them and I think it went pretty good.  Sis Sherry looked at us after the song and gave us a big smile and a thumbs up, I hope it was in appreciation, and not sympathy. ..

 

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