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Teach Your Toddler Perfect Pitch

garthsundem (1702946) writes | more than 2 years ago

Music 5

garthsundem writes "Diana Deutsch, president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, says that perfect pitch can be trained — start early by labeling a keyboard with colors or animal stickers. Once you've paired tone with meaning, you can switch it later to note names, like A, B, C."

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A curse or a blessing? (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38892369)

It's debatable whether or not perfect pitch is a blessing or a curse. The Western tuning system (I can't speak for other tuning systems found in different cultures) is not perfect and in fact requires unconscious ear training before the music "makes sense." Ever listen to traditional Chinese music? It can sound pretty alien because our ears are not accustomed to their different method of slicing up an octave.

I read a great book in high school (given to me by my music teacher) called, "Temperament" and it detailed the history of how the piano came to its current form. It's quite interesting to see the weird pianos that were invented before its current incarnation was finalized (along with our tuning system).

Fascinatingly enough, early musicians had big problems while tuning pianos (or precursors to the piano, such as the harpsichord). They initially started with an absolute note (such as C) and tuned subsequent notes perfectly in harmony to this starting note. The result was that any piece in C sounded wonderful, but if the musician were to try to modulate or transpose the piece to an alternate key, the tones did not resonate very well and sounded like "howling wolves." After much struggle and experimentation, the final system that was decided upon (and is still in use in Western tuning today) is a system where an octave is equidistantly sliced into twelve parts. Because of this slight compromise in pitch (that is, the fifths, fourths, and octaves are no longer "perfect"), world-class singers and classical instrument players can purportedly have difficulty staying in tune with a piano.

My whole digression is to make the point that individuals with perfect pitch might notice all the little tuning inconsistencies that most people automatically and unconsciously adjust to the nearest expected pitch. I can't imagine being bothered by every little out of tune pitch I ever heard... not to mention I would probably get speeding tickets -- "Officer, I know I was doing 80 in a 65 zone, but my fifth gear RPM is exactly A 440 at 80 MPH and, well, I can't stand it when my transmission is flat."

Re:A curse or a blessing? (1)

garthsundem (1702946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38897729)

Ha! Spectacularly said! I remember hearing this discussion of tuning in college but would never have pulled it from the dark ages of freshman theory, nor said it as well. In fact, when I was there, Cornell had one of the country's best gamelan orchestras. Okay, I just checked and it's still there: [] There were some rooms the students with perfect pitch avoided and this was certainly one of them (the other, I'm afraid was the room in which our jazz ensemble practiced...). I remember thinking the gamelan was a wonderful cacophony -- that said, I also listen to Hendrix.

Re:A curse or a blessing? (1)

garthsundem (1702946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38897783)

BTW--is there any etiquette violation in suggesting you copy your comment to the GeekDad site as well? There's some good chat going and I'd love your comment included. (If this is in any way seen as trolling or other unsavoriness, please just forget I asked.)

Re:A curse or a blessing? (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38904619)

Thanks for the response and for giving your input from your college experience! I would enjoy being a part of a conversation at GeekDad, although I have not visited that site before. Can you give a URL for the particular discussion you mentioned?
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