[Menvi-discuss] blind musicians with perfect pitch

Jared Rimer - MENVI webmaster menvi-webmaster at menvi.org
Sun Sep 17 15:09:03 EDT 2017


Hi Chris,

The difficulty with the recorder seems to be the fact it seems sharper, 
like the E may be a little higher.  I've been told I have perfect pitch, 
for what it means.  I noticed when they asked me to identify the note, 
it was harder to gague.  I understand what you're saying though, and its 
interesting.

Jared Rimer
Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired
www.menvi.org
bridging the gap between the blind and music education

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On 9/17/2017 10:17 AM, Chris Smart via Menvi-discuss wrote:
> 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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