circa 1901 - ignored again

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circa 1901 - ignored again

Postby aruffo » Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:57 pm

In preparation for the coming semester I'm working on the translation of the Abraham paper from 1901-- it's been referenced in pretty much every publicaton ever printed about absolute pitch, but some of the English-speaking authors are only able to quote it second-hand, so I figured I'd get myself a look at the horse's mouth.

So far (I'm about half done), reading it makes me wonder... many of the papers I've read seem ignorant of Abraham's demonstrations. Would that have been different if the original paper were in English, or were the later authors deliberately ignoring the data in favor of their own conclusions?

More pointedly-- I wonder if anyone even really had the context and the understanding to know what he was talking about. I mean, check this out:

This [data] has provided an unexpected result: the discovery that when hearing a letter sound, an image of the letter is produced, which is only afterward connected to the piano key. This letter image is not produced when responding directly to a tone sound. The connection of the tone to its key is more intimate and direct than the connection of the key to its letter name.

His experimental data demonstrated that naming a note is an extra step, an interfering factor, external to absolute pitch recognition and judgment-- and yet to this day, the popular definition of absolute pitch is "the ability to name notes", and many researchers continue to think that absolute pitch ability is the skill of connecting verbal labels to pitch categories!

Translating this puppy is going rather quickly-- the language is simple, and I have the benefit of knowing what he's talking about-- but it is tedious, since originally the darn thing was over 80 pages long.

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