[Menvi-discuss] blind musicians with perfect pitch

Chris Smart csmart8 at cogeco.ca
Sun Sep 17 13:17:33 EDT 2017


Jared, I'm curious about something. Are we using different 
definitions of perfect pitch? You say you can identify notes on one 
instrument but not another, i.e. recorder. I'm going to argue here 
that that, is not perfect pitch, also known as absolute pitch.

Fourth octave B on the piano is the same pitch as on any other 
instrument. It's fundamental is around 500 hurtz. If you can sing a B 
note that's in tune, without a reference, or identify one that is 
played, on anything capable of producing that frequency tone, that is 
perfect pitch.

Electrical hum in North America is 60 hurtz, and that sounds like a 
note between  first octave B-flat and B natural. similarly, if I hear 
50 hurtz electrical hum in the UK, my brain immediately says "oh, 
that's a little sharp of 1st octave G".

At 12:23 PM 9/17/2017, you wrote:
>Elizabeth,
>
>You are definitely not rambling.  Even today, I've still got perfect 
>pitch, and my father baught my sister's children recorders.  I have 
>a hard time telling what notes those are, as I haven't played 
>recorder since I learned it in elementary school, but I can tell 
>perfect pitch on a piano or string instrument.  I did remember that 
>you can't blow too hard on the mouthpiece of the recorder or it'll 
>squeak.  I think I had one of those notes, but i know too, that 
>there are different tuned recorders, and each one has different 
>notes for the wholes you need to hold down.  Thanks for posting, and 
>feel free to participate at any time you wish.
>
>Jared Rimer
>Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired
>www.menvi.org
>bridging the gap between the blind and music education
>
>When reporting broken links, please kindly let us know what web page 
>you came from so we may fix the error as quickly as possible. Thanks!
>
>On 9/17/2017 2:48 AM, Beth Smaligo via Menvi-discuss wrote:
>>Hello to the discussion group,
>>It's been fascinating reading the latest chatter about blind 
>>professional orchestral musicians. I'm solid as far as musical 
>>comprehension, but as far as execution I wouldn't make the cut for 
>>an orchestra now, although I played in a junior orchestra for 
>>fourth through eighth graders in seventh and eighth grade. Contra 
>>the stereotype, I do not have perfect pitch, at least not anymore. 
>>I have always been painfully self-conscious about disclosing what I 
>>am about to say, but as it's nothing remotely inappropriate to post 
>>publicly, I might as well ditch the introversion and open the 
>>floodgate. It would probably have come up one day since my mother, 
>>an extremely gifted music educator and informal advocate for blind 
>>equality, might have eventually posted as such. It seems apparently 
>>that I had perfect pitch until age 7. I cannot recall what that 
>>must have been like, nor can I imagine it now hard, as I try, but I 
>>must have had it because if you asked, and sometimes when I was 
>>younger even when not asked, much to my chagrin at the time, both 
>>of my parents would say to certain people and retell me that upon a 
>>key being randomly brushed up against or deliberately struck I 
>>would immediately invariably pipe up with unerring accuracy its 
>>note. We'll never know how I lost it, and I have my limitations (OK 
>>I opened the floodgate, but I will not be a research subject), but 
>>my mom has this theory that I also discovered that I was different, 
>>as in how being blind separated me from the other kids around 
>>second grade time because the others didn't absolutely have to run 
>>up and touch everything anymore, or at least not nearly as much. 
>>This "discovering that I was different," as she terms it, we think 
>>psychologically traumatized me, and one of the damages was the loss 
>>of this mysterious gift of automatic ability to name notes. I think 
>>also in consequence my reliance on braille music is such that I 
>>could use some formal ear training. I'd love to learn to improvise 
>>in an American folk style kind of way, and I really appreciate 
>>jazz, though my tendencies are definitely classical. I'm sorry: 
>>perhaps it is that I've just rambled on in a sort of self-pity, 
>>though this has certainly not been my intention. I think a lot, 
>>often too much, and when I journal privately, I find that my 
>>entries are seldom short or without detail. Some of this is also 
>>the result of the expansive writing and clarity drilled into an 
>>English literature and communication double major (that was my 
>>undergrad degree). Anyway, I recently had an almost video game-like 
>>dream like a fantasy world recently (and I've had variations of 
>>this dream over the years) in which one of the powers I could 
>>acquire along the Path to Success in whatever fantasy world my 
>>dream had made up, nonspecific as it was that I could ever remember 
>>upon awakening, was perfect pitch. I guess then in my dream, and 
>>only in those particular fantasy-world dreams, could I have perfect 
>>pitch. I've tried, never successfully, to identify random notes by 
>>clumsily banging random keys on a piano and recording and then 
>>playing back said recording, but only playing back after a day or 
>>two so as not to be able to recall, even if unable to identify 
>>notes by name, at least the relative non tune I'd "played." Am I 
>>making any semblance of sense? Someone was all means please tell me 
>>bluntly if I've just confused an entire discussion list with 
>>gibberish and made a total idiot of myself. I'm feeling rather 
>>foolish posting this. I'll go back to mostly monitoring; over and out.
>>Elizabeth [Beth] A. Smaligo, B.A., M.A.
>>Sent from my iPhone
>>
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