Calibration between hearing and producing a tone

Thoughts and responses regarding the research at acousticlearning.com.
SunFishSeven
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:18 am

Calibration between hearing and producing a tone

Postby SunFishSeven » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:23 pm

I rigged up the computer to play me a tone. Then I sing it back (without allowing myself to fumble towards the target pitch; I make myself hold to the initial pitch I utter) and it shows me the discrepancy. (The computer actually calculates the pitch I sang into the microphone).

I'm amazed to see that I'm often a semitone or more out.

If I repeat the exercise 10 times, I find I pitch subsequent notes correctly. Clearly my brain is performing some relative pitch calculation; sound is being heard relative to the previous tone, and the vocal cords similarly perform a relative adjustment.

By throwing in a bunch of random notes I can prevent this 'relative offset' mechanism from kicking in. This allows me to exclusively train this skill of 'perfect reproduction without reference'.

Now this must surely be a very vital ability. I've been for a long time digging to isolate core skills necessary for musicianship. I'm very surprised I haven't encountered this one before.

I can't find any content on the Internet that relates to this. Mr Google appears for once to be stumped. I can't see anyone prescribing this training exercise.

Has anyone else witnessed this phenomenon?

As far as I can see, the entire area of musicality surrounding ear-training is undernourished, I suspect several skills have been mislabelled or put under the umbrella of a single term. And some skills don't seem to even have names.

So let me split this into 2 components

1. The ability to calibrate the voice to match a tone heard.
Basically warbling around until I match it.

2. The possession of a perfectly calibrated 'hear tone -> produce tone' mechanism. So the moment the note is voiced, it is coming out at the correct frequency, without the need for any fumbling.

This is what 'perfect pitch' should really refer to, if you just take those two words at face value. The ability to pitch perfectly from an external reference.

Can anyone point me towards knowledge / research / discussion / information pertaining to this topic? Does it have a name? Is it on the map? Is there research on it... like how many people have it and how readily it can be acquired?

π

lorelei
Posts: 221
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:36 am

Postby lorelei » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:29 pm

The ability to calibrate the voice to match a tone heard.
Basically warbling around until I match it.


This ability is called pitch matching. It does depend on your ear, but is also related to vocal control, or basically the ability to control your vocal chords. While it relies on a fairly good ear (you do have to hear what you want your voice to do to make it work), there are plenty of people with good ears and poor vocal control. It is certainly a good skill, but I would argue that a lot of factors other than just a good ear play into it.

The possession of a perfectly calibrated 'hear tone -> produce tone' mechanism. So the moment the note is voiced, it is coming out at the correct frequency, without the need for any fumbling.


And what you have here seems to be matching a pitch in your mind. Ideally this would be perfect pitch, although some singers develop a system instead where they rely on the tension of their vocal chords (vocal tension pitch). When training for perfect pitch, you don't want to fall into the habit of using vocal tension for pitch.
Perfect pitch has two components: active and passive. The passive allows a possessor to name any tone they hear. Active means the possessor knows what the chroma is so well they can just imagine it in their minds ear and produce it from there. As for how to train this...


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