Thursday, April 28, 2005

My perfect pitch is going flat

Sometimes when I listen to classical music on the radio, I hear it in the wrong key, a half key flat (or they are playing the stuff too fast!). If I know the piece, I'll stop and say, wait that's supposed to be in E flat, not E, and so I force my ears (or brain) to change the pitches (or labels of the pitches) I hear. Then suddenly the piece goes from sounding kinda flat and dull to very bright and cheery (from the flat side of one key to the sharp side of the other key). The piece will slip back once in a while and I have to shift it in my mind again. It is fairly easy to do with pieces that I know, but difficult with pieces that I don't know. If the key of an unknown piece is announced beforehand, and then I hear it flat, I can't change the key in my mind in that first listening. When the key is announced after the piece and I realize that I was listening to it in the wrong key, it is very disconcerting. Other times, I hear it the right key, and I think, whew, my perfect pitch isn't going flat. I wonder if my piano is just a little too flat and is affecting my perfect pitch (it is just a hair flat, but really not bad at all). And then there are some recordings that I have that are simply so sharp that I can't change the key in my mind at all. I recently got David Oistrakh (who I called david ostrich when I was a kid) playing the Bach E Major violin concerto, which I love, but I keep hearing it in F and it is all wrong!! It is so bad that I can't listen to the recording anymore. If only I could just listen to it like someone without perfect pitch and simply enjoy the music!

2 comments :

-Quentin said...

Wow...I guess I am much more of a "visual" person, but I never considered that people might be so "in-tune" with sound and pitch. (sorry for the pun)

But this makes sense...in fact, a number of people I have known who have gone to incredible lengths to enhance their audio systems to get what they say are huge enhacements in music quality. I hear the difference their $20,000 bought and I tell them they would get more bang for the buck having surgury on their ears directly.

Visual acuteness I get....I never considered the same for sound/pitch. (makes sense....it's another sense...like touch, which I also understand...which means ditto for smell I guess)

Anonymous said...

I've been developing perfect pitch and I went from nothing to slightly flat but perfect in terms of intervals when memory tuning my guitar after waking up in the morning. i'm hoping it'll sharpen. I'm new to music.

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