Perfect Pitch / Absolute Pitch (AP)

#26
If you don't know (also besides wikipedia there's other interesting stuff out there! A few university studies done which deal with nature vs. nurture which is a good debate point as to the formation of AP)

Anyways, who else here has AP? I feel like the percentage here would be different slightly because of the different reapportionment of demographics here vs. the general population, but I feel *because* it's so large that it might even out in the end. The world may never know ...

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE IT: How did you find out about you did? How accurate is it (to within a few cents, or less precise)? How often do you use it? Most importantly, how much do people hate you for using it? (I feel like I need a support group for that ...)

Personally, I think I was basically utilizing the components of AP way back when I was younger because I could remember the exact key a song was played in on the radio and repeat it back, which made me pretty upset when people sang songs in different keys than what they originally were (still a problem even now..); I didn't start formal music training until middle school but I had scales figured out pitch-wise after about a year. I played clarinet so basically I thought of everything initially in terms of fingerings and pitches on the instrument, so I was "thinking in B flat" for the longest time until I got to high school and I actually figured out that was I was doing was just me having AP. I became friends with someone who had AP and I asked what it was, and I finally figured out I had AP when he tested me (compensating for the fact that I would give everything back a whole step above of what its actual name was...).

I think I've just recently gotten more accustomed to thinking in C instead of Bb but transposing is still annoying as hell for other instruments that aren't in either of those (which was pretty amusing when I started saxophone and could play the notes and repeat melodies but couldn't read sheet music for a month...). Not exactly sure if it's possible to refine it so that you can tell if it's closely flat or closely sharp to a reference note, but that's something to work on.

tl;dr who here can hear a C on a piano without looking at it
Hello, I also have it! I started piano aged 4 and first found out that I was different when I joined the ukelele club at my school at tuned people's ukelele for them without referring to the piano. I'm glad that others feel the same about it as it do. It's a great thing to have and can be very useful, but when people start singing in the wrong key (like singing "We are the champions" but starting on a C# instead of an F!). It gets very annoying and sometimes I feel like I need to get annoying way from everyone to 'refresh' in a way! I know two teachers with it and two other students, but I don't see them that much and we hardly ever talk about it. I have almost accidentally started a war in in my aural training class! I'm not trying to be arrogant or anything. It's just so good to be able to relate to the same experiences!
 
#27
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE IT: How did you find out about you did? How accurate is it (to within a few cents, or less precise)? How often do you use it? Most importantly, how much do people hate you for using it? (I feel like I need a support group for that ...)

I've been a musician professionally for about five years, played piano and guitar since I was about four though. Learning music by ear is an incredible way to develop a sense of Absolute Pitch, also tuning your instruments without assistance. I never knew this was some sort of incredible talent until a while ago, I thought this was something all musicians eventually picked up on.

I knew I had it during my 7th grade year, in our music class (mandatory) I was able to pick apart the songs we were learning (basic songs but still songs) simply by giving them about five or six listens. From there on I began listening to more complicated music, I got into early metal, bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. I began learning some more of their basic songs by ear, I found it difficult at first but eventually I was able to pick apart songs phrase by phrase. Now, when it comes to singing and matching notes (called out or heard) I'm pretty accurate as well. If it makes any sense, those people who write music over movie dialog or memes and stuff, I'm borderline one of them...Friends with the guy who played Steamed Hams on Guitar, our guitar circle is constantly talking theory and the mathematics of guitar, ect. As for how often I use it, quite often cause I'll be sometimes play guitar along to the voice pitches of whatever my Girlfriend is watching on Tv and it bothers the fuck out of her.
 
#28
AP has its advantages and disadvantages, and this is coming from a person without it. It would be very nice to tune my cello perfectly, and know exactly how out of tune I am, but it also has to be very annoying, hearing something in the wrong key, and it drives you insane. One of my friends has perfect pitch, and whenever we played Pomp & Circumstance in a different key than it is usually in. The more amusing thing is I think I saw him wince a little bit when he walked last year.
 
#30
I also have absolute pitch. In my case, I believe my AP is trained.

I first realized I had some form of AP in Grade 8, when I realized I remembered Middle C without a reference. I ended up transcribing "Sing Sing Sing" (inadequately) for a 4-person ensemble that year by ear. (Oddly, I suspect I was sight singing earlier than that. I also learned the clarinet before Grade 8, and that transposing instrument somehow didn't completely screw up my AP.)

At first, I leaned heavily on relative pitch to get the rest of the notes. I think I got all 12 notes of the chromatic scale down by the time I graduated from school.

My AP is currently good enough that I can sing any of the 12 notes on demand and recognize any of the 12 notes by ear. If that note is noticeably (read: several cents) sharp or flat, I'll notice and tell you. I don't have instant recall, though--I find that I recognize notes faster if I sing them (possibly an octave or two away from the original).

I can also recognize the keys of pieces just by listening to them, which I've read is another form of AP. Strangely, I can often recognize the key of a piece before I can home in on any of its notes. I currently lump Dorian/Phrygian into minor keys and Mixolydian/Lydian into major keys with caveats. I end up being tempted to throw Phrygian Dominant/Double Harmonic into the minor key a fourth above the seeming tonic (Phrygian Dominant is to Harmonic Minor as Mixolydian is to Major/Ionian). I'm working on recognizing polytonality (even though I generally don't like it--oddly, I've heard polytonality in 2 Pokemon themes so far).

I end up getting a bit irritated if you switch the key of a piece (I get more irritated if it's classical music because that genre has a reputation of enforcing accuracy, and I get even more irritated if you switch the key of a piece that has a key in its name, such as Mozart's Symphony No. 25 in G Minor). I find some Baroque music hard to listen to as a result because too many of them use A415 instead of A440.

I get more irritated if the piece plays back sharp or flat, though. I also get pretty irritated if a remix gets a few notes wrong.

I think my AP is why I can't stand atonal music. I'm surprised how well I can stand atonal passages in tonal pieces, though.

I started off needing reference pieces to recognize keys, and I remember not being able to recognize all major and minor keys at first. I remember using Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata as one of those references (for C minor and E flat major).

I suspect part of the reason why I could develop AP in the first place is because I tend to remember pretty high-fidelity recordings of what I've previously listened to. (I like some interpretations of a piece significantly more than others, which probably indicates that I remember them in lots of detail.) These high-fidelity memories are also probably why I sometimes have trouble transposing music on the fly, and why I find it significantly easier to sing a piece in a certain key if I've heard it in that key before.

As far as I can tell, my family thinks my AP is amusing, but nobody else has commented yet IRL. I do find it immensely useful for composing, arranging, and transcribing, though.
 
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#34
I do, to the annoyance of my music friends, have AP. As a kid, I played the Violin by the end of 1st grade, so thats when I really started to hone in on it and figure out how I was able to hear things other people for some reason couldnt, I never understood that. I wanna say by 3rd or 4th grade I could tune myself solely by ear. In High School, I began singing (and still do, although having AP for that nips me in the butt because I always think in notes, which throws me off preparing for lets say a G sharp or A lol), and thats when people asked if I had perfect pitch because I would constantly make silent comments to myself if one particular person (or the group as a whole) was flat or sharp. Much later when I was close with people in the drama club, they would often like to test me by pulling out the piano and play random notes/chords to see how well I could pick each note out perfectly (I personally found that amusing lol).

As for transposing, yea I think of C on the piano (although my go-to base note is A, like the violin string). My GF plays the French horn, and whats an F for her, for example, always throws me off because her music is transposed differently.
 
#35
I've barely skimmed over this thread, but Adam Neely does a great discussion on the phenomenon in this Q&A video:
as somebody who has perfect pitch i was extraordinarily annoyed and confused by the first half of this video LOL

anyway, from what I am aware of the matter Perfect Pitch is "absolute" (ha ha) in that you either have it or you don't. If you don't have perfect pitch you can never "develop" it. However, your relative pitch can theoretically be so well trained that your memory and cognition skills allow you to near-instantly recognize a note from knowledge of intervals and a subconscious reference pitch from memory. I'm a musician, and I know some people who can figure out a pitch by remembering the sound of a certain note and then figure it out relative to that (for example, a trumpet player friend of mine could imagine a concert b flat and figure out whatever note he was asked with pretty good consistency). I'm sure this skill could be honed to the point where its just as effective (or more effective even than somebody who doesn't have well trained perfect pitch). Some are you have said or implied that you have "acquired" it through training, but I don't believe that to be true - I just believe you had it but your musical training honed it to the point where you could use it and it became apparat to you.

As from my personal experiences, its a blessing but also a curse. Anything out of tune in the least sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. Once I was in a lecture where we were listening to contemporary music and there was a piece that purposely used semitones (out of tune) and i felt physically ill from listening to it. I'm a trained and experienced pianist so I also associate pitches with a keyboard when i hear it. Playing on a transposed electric piano or something like that confuses the hell out of me, if I look at the keys while hearing a different note i get this washy feeling and can't focus (however muscle memory will often kick in if im playing though). I am “forced” to name the pitch of any sound that I can hear, you could say. Another issue is that I can't read any music out of concert pitch - I'm looking at music and hearing something that im not looking at, and its extremely confusing. I tried picking up the clarinet but that didn't work out too well. Another issue is that while I'm not as dependent on memory to create, I'm still limited as repeating sequences of melodic phrases is hindered by my ability to actually remember the notes that are being played. Many high schools use "moveable do" solfege and I can't use this no matter how much I try, so I look a bit foolish when I'm fumbling on your average do re mi fa sol la (t)si do. I also cannot stand atonal music.

As a composer, its extremely useful when needing to figure out what im hearing in my head and i can go put it on paper / computer software immediately without having to do as much "figuring" out. I've been working on training my ear so that I can more easily recognize the notes of thicker or more complex chords so that when I hear something that I want to write I know what I need to do to effectively get it as fast as possible without forgetting. Dictation, improvisation, sight-reading, transcribing, and analysis get significantly easier when you can hear everything in the right key off the bat. However, its a lot easier to hear when somebody does a bad job of those things, which could be good, but always a bit irritating.

Both the positives and negatives here can definitely be honed and thats always something to work towards. All my music friends always say "oh, you're so lucky" and while i dont want to look like a jerk to them or that im taking this gift for granted I always think to myself about the irritations I deal with because of this.

It's also a cool party trick to show off :toast:
 
#36
So for those of you with perfect pitch, if something is simply transposed into another key, does that sound awful? First example that comes to mind is Baby Park in Mario Kart 8 with the pitch changing each lap of the race, often on the fly and in the middle of a measure (this video doesn't quite do that justice):
 
#37
So for those of you with perfect pitch, if something is simply transposed into another key, does that sound awful? First example that comes to mind is Baby Park in Mario Kart 8 with the pitch changing each lap of the race, often on the fly and in the middle of a measure (this video doesn't quite do that justice):
Nope, it sounds completely fine, but it just sounds significantly different. When I say it sounds bad if something is "out of tune" I mean that its not somewhere on the 12 tone temperament that standard music has been for hundreds of years.
 
#38
Nope, it sounds completely fine, but it just sounds significantly different. When I say it sounds bad if something is "out of tune" I mean that its not somewhere on the 12 tone temperament that standard music has been for hundreds of years.
How much of Undertale's or Final Fantasy Mystic Quest's OST can't you stand, then? From the videos I've listened to, both OSTs end up pitch-shifting a bunch, to the point that some songs aren't in A440 (e.g. Hopes and Dreams, the FFMQ regular boss theme).

So for those of you with perfect pitch, if something is simply transposed into another key, does that sound awful? First example that comes to mind is Baby Park in Mario Kart 8 with the pitch changing each lap of the race, often on the fly and in the middle of a measure (this video doesn't quite do that justice):
I'm normally fine when listening to the original or at least an official version (I'm fine here, with the average sonata-allegro (note that all sonata-allegros will transpose at least one of their themes fairly faithfully), with the later Mario Kart versions of Baby Park...), but I notice (often unfavorably) whenever any remix changes the key of a piece. (For example, I like F minor versions of Schubert's Erlkonig significantly less because that piece is originally in G minor.)
 
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#39
I’ve not got perfect pitch (although my ear is pretty well trained relative to French Horn tuning) but it seems semi-relevant; I’d just like to say that in my pretty limited experience of music that’s not in even temperament that it generally sounds much more pleasent and doesn’t ever really grate like even tempered music can with over-listening. How does that compare for someone with AP? Like, listen to this for example and how does it sound?


IIRC either they state the tuning in the description or they respond in one of the vid’s comments; it’s been a while since I’ve listened to it and I can’t remember what the specific tuning/temperament is so if you’re interested look in one of those two places.
 
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#40
I’ve not got perfect pitch (although my ear is pretty well trained relative to French Horn tuning) but it seems semi-relevant; I’d just like to say that in my pretty limited experience of music that’s not in even temperament that it generally sounds much more pleasent and doesn’t ever really grate like even tempered music can with over-listening. How does that compare for someone with AP? Like, listen to this for example and how does it sound?

Equal temperament was created to theoretically be able to play any given thing in any given key by splitting the octave into 12 parts.

"equal temperament" in itself is inherently flawed because of complex math reasons. Theoretically, the intervals of a perfect fifth and an octave should sound exactly "in tune" if the notes have a frequency ratio of 3:2 and 2:1. That's actually not really possible since you can't make an octave by stacking up perfect fifths, and therefore the 5th is actually where the compromise is made so that the standard for temperament is equal. Splitting the octave into 12 equal parts leaves you with a ratio of something just under 3:2 (iirc something like 2.995 or something ridiculous), and while that might not look like a huge difference its actually almost audible.

The video you link here actually has a redundant title, as that is tuned in (i assume) something called a "well temperament", also known as "good temperament", which implies that it is unequal. It was just another way somebody came up with to attempt to fix this mathematical problem and of the many different temperaments come up with during the 1600-1800s they all had semitones of different intervals, so keys would all have slightly different sounds and wouldn't be consistent throughout the octaves (some composers used this as a compositional tool but its uncommon by means of practicality).

It doesn't sound bad to me, it sounds a bit "off" at times but this in particular didn't strike me too hard, I could definitely make out which pitches were what and I don't really have an explanation for that. It could have something to do with the composition itself - Bach tends to write in a more linear fashion than a vertical one, meaning that he cared more about the individual lines the voices had more than the harmonic progressions at any point in time and then lined them up vertically - for example, take almost any piece from the Well Tempered Clavier, and pick a voice, and you can most likely follow a line throughout it that is continuous and theoretically could be sung by a vocal part. I guarantee this for every fugue in the WTC and most of the preludes.

Another thing to take note of is that string instruments such as violins are not technically bound to any temperament and many many professional string players with perfect pitch / great ears can and do shift some of their pitches by fractions of semi tones to fit more in balance with the ideal intervals and ratios.

Theres something called the "Overtone Series" which is the basis of all tonal music which is comprised of the frequency ratios overlapping which sounds "good" to us, so the temperaments that you find pleasing are probably because the ratio is closer to a perfect one, but is actually compensating else where and certain notes on that keyboard will likely sound off. You can test the overtone series yourself by going to a keyboard, silently pressing the bottom C down, and then striking various intervals of decreasing distance starting at an octave and then releasing - you'll hear a distinct ring on these notes far more than you will on other intervals due to the math behind the frequencies. For example, after that C, you hit the C above, and then the G above that (5th), and then the C above that (4th) and then the E above that (the major third) then the G (minor third) followed by the subminor third which is a Bb and then increasingly smaller. However some of these intervals, especially as you go up, are slightly off from the ideal ratios due to equal temperament.


actually ill just find a diagram for sake of ease.


Harmonic series as musical notation with intervals between harmonics labeled. Blue notes differ most significantly from equal temperament.



sorry if i nerded out a bit hope i answered your questions, if you have any more ill try to answer to the best of my ability
 
#41
Actually, both jynx (formerly Phoopes) and I have AP.
Just saw this post three and a half years later, I forget when/how I told you I had it but it's nice to be remembered lol

I could talk pretty extensively about my experience with this but for now there's this: I got really triggered by the Adam Neely video the first time I saw it, like when he was doing the stuff at the beginning I was worried because I thought my ear was "broken" or whatever and I went to my piano to make sure I wasn't crazy lol

It's hard to say whether I've always had perfect pitch or it came as a result of training or whatever. My mom, dad, and grandparents were all musicians so maybe some of it came naturally but I have also been playing piano since I was four years old. I'm sure that helped and I developed perfect pitch at some point over the years. It was something that I always knew I had but never really thought about it until I took AP Music Theory when I was in 10th grade. My teacher asked if anyone had perfect pitch and it was sort of an "I guess so" thing. He tested me in front of the class which was funny because that happened again in college too when I took a music history class.

I haven't read all the responses in the thread so idk if anyone talked about this yet but I think there are different levels to people having perfect pitch. Like some people you can play these weird-ass polychords and they'll be able to tell you all nine notes in them or whatever. I'm not quite that level but I can typically identify major, minor, diminished, augmented chords and if you throw a 7th in there I can usually get that too. And another thing, I'm definitely best at it with piano. On piano a lot of the notes just really "jump out" at me so to speak. Takes a lot more concentration if I'm listening to notes on other instruments or people singing. I can usually get stuff but not as well as if the notes are played on piano. Probably because I've been playing piano pretty much my whole life
 

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