Levels of perfect pitch: Tone v.s. Chroma

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

Levels of perfect pitch: Tone v.s. Chroma

Postby SunFishSeven » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:34 pm

While communicating with the only individual I know who appears to have a complete musical toolkit, I learned the following:

* he perceives primarily by pitch-class / chroma. So first/instantly he hears a note as a G. And as a secondary brain movement he figures out the 'pitch range': where on the keyboard it is.

* At some point as a child, he knew before playing a piano note what it was going to sound like. This was years before he became aware of having perfect pitch.

From this I suspect that maybe there are two levels. First the brain learns to remember a tone. And only later does it become able to wrap the spiral into a circle, abstracting 12 pitch classes.

Maybe attempts to straightaway resolve sound into these 12 pitch classes are jumping the gun, trying to do in one step what would be better done in two.

It would help to have more experiences from people with perfect pitch.

If any of you are able, please ask these people whether the above distinction can be made if they look back to their own musical journey.

π

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

Postby lorelei » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:17 pm

Well, here you have some of my thoughts and experiences on the matter. Hopefully you find this interesting or helpful.

he perceives primarily by pitch-class / chroma. So first/instantly he hears a note as a G. And as a secondary brain movement he figures out the 'pitch range': where on the keyboard it is.
Maybe attempts to straightaway resolve sound into these 12 pitch classes are jumping the gun, trying to do in one step what would be better done in two.


Well, I have indeed noticed that in the extreme registers or with odd chromas, I perceive the pitch class much sooner than the octave, although the process is not necessarily conscious for either of them. I dunno if I'd even call it a secondary brain movement... although in the most extreme cases it might require that. With really odd timbres, sometimes even the first step requires some conscious thought at times, although most of the time it doesn't. Usually the second doesn't either, but more frequently than the first. So yes, they are somewhat separate processes, or at least they are perceived differently.

At some point as a child, he knew before playing a piano note what it was going to sound like. This was years before he became aware of having perfect pitch.


I have had similar experiences in the past too. I do remember piano keys sounding different, and even keys sounding different before knowing anything about perfect pitch. Having this ability but not really understanding what it was led to a funny experience in fifth grade band (they had me play flute, but I didn't play it for very long as I was already playing piano and violin and had no time for a third instrument) related to transposing instruments in the band, but that's another story...


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