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Old 5th April 2007, 03:07 PM   #1
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Default What is perfect pitch?

I was trying to tune a mountain dulcimer that seems to have a lot of harmonics. It occurred to me that I can't always say if a note is higher or lower than another, much less whether it matches. OTOH, I have no trouble once I can get a beat between two strings. Because I know exactly what it sounds like, I can set a signal generator to 1kHz within a couple cycles or less, but IMO, that's just a learning process. I always thought perfect pitch was something a person was born with, and I certainly don't have it based on my inability to tune strings. Just what is it, and are there varying degrees?
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Old 5th April 2007, 03:15 PM   #2
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Hmmm .... good question.
I have heard of people that are so sensitive to incorrect pitch that they cannot listen to a lot of music because, to them, it seems out of tune. More of a curse than a blessing but this is an extreme case.

I'm the same as you with tuning. As long as I can hear the 'beating' then I can tune quite easily. Often, with guitar tuning, I find it easier to use distortion to accentuate this effect.

Martin.
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Old 5th April 2007, 03:19 PM   #3
croat47 is offline croat47  United States
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Absolute pitch, widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or sing a musical note without the benefit of a known reference.

For those who want to learn...I hear this works from other musicians:

http://www.discount.perfectpitch.com/

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Old 5th April 2007, 03:26 PM   #4
cpemma is offline cpemma  United Kingdom
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch

Quote:
"Passive" absolute pitch

Persons with passive absolute pitch are able to identify individual notes that they hear, and can identify the key of a composition (assuming some degree of musical knowledge). Some may be able to identify several notes played simultaneously, and therefore identify complex chords. Those with passive absolute pitch are not always capable of singing a given note on command.

"Active" absolute pitch

Persons with active absolute pitch are able to sing any given note on cue, without prior pitch references. Active absolute pitch possessors number about 1 in 10,000 in the United States.
Tuning by beat frequency is something virtually anybody can do, if I remember my physics class. It just shows the reference standard and the variable are close (or a whole multiple), not what the absolute value is.
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Old 5th April 2007, 03:38 PM   #5
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" ... I was trying to tune a mountain dulcimer that seems to have a lot of harmonics. ..."

" ... Absolute pitch, widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or sing a musical note without the benefit of a known reference. ..."

If you have it, you know, if not then try this: Hum a note that you feel might be an "A" below "middle C" (aka A4) ... then turn on your signal generator and set the controlls for 440 Htz or turn one of those cute little electric guitar tuners and compare. This "A 440" sound is one of the primary frequencies of the Earth, being the rate at which lightning strikes around the world, in sum total, continuously. Almost all humans are able to find this note ... and this trait is available to all of us except those with tone deafness ... it just takes a little effort and practise to discover and become sensitive to it.
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Old 5th April 2007, 03:45 PM   #6
dnsey is offline dnsey  United Kingdom
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Default Yes, but...

what about this?
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Old 5th April 2007, 03:45 PM   #7
SY is offline SY  United States
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Quote:
This "A 440" sound is one of the primary frequencies of the Earth, being the rate at which lightning strikes around the world, in sum total, continuously.
Can you give a reliable cite for that? I've never heard of it and I'm a collector of curious physical facts.
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Old 5th April 2007, 04:51 PM   #8
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" ... Can you give a reliable cite for that? ..."

Well, you could start by reading about the discoveries of Tesla ... He apparently discovered this planet wide phenomena while working at Pike's Peak /Colorado Springs, observing the summertime rolling thunderstorms heading east into Kansas. Then noticed the steady 440 to 442 Htz hum in his power receivers ... One could also find out more by building something like this and harvesting the minute power of the 440 Htz noise: http://electronicdesign.com/Articles...923/14923.html ... but that's a topic of another flavor.

(This is also a good reason for building wall warts that use 440 Htz as a switching freq ... )
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Old 5th April 2007, 06:53 PM   #9
xov is offline xov  England
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- some interesting tests here, some of the tests seem a bit flawed but the pitch one is worth listening to I think.....
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Old 5th April 2007, 06:55 PM   #10
xov is offline xov  England
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hang on..here it is

http://tonometric.com/adaptivepitch/
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