Thursday, June 01, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about AP, but were afraid to ask

Frank has written a good summary of Absolute Pitch, with many links to resources. As this message board is part of a website promoting a system of learning AP, it does not present reasons why AP is not necessary, or even a hindrance, for musicians. It is also too dismissive of the genetics theory for AP. I also point out the legal disclaimer that this program may be illegal in the US. I haven't tried the system, nor do I want to. I have quasi-AP perception, which is really a good sense of pitch memory. It does help in that I know what pitch I'm going to play on the trumpet or cornetto before I actually play it, allowing me to center that note better. But as I end up transposing things quite often, and play on 4-5 different keys of trumpets, I don't fixate on the absolute note names. What is your impression of AP (also known as perfect pitch)? My impression is that professional musicians don't think about it (after they are done with dictation classes), while non-musicians regard it as something magical that all good musicians have.


Peter (the other) said...

...non-musicians regard it as something magical that all good musicians have.

At a New England Conservatory alumni dinner, this week, we talked about how those same non-musicians only know about Julliard, and their opinion that either you went there or are not first rate.

Although I might desire to have perfect pitch, the next time around, I do not feel as if my lack has been too burdensome this time. Kind of like the size of certain other appendages ;-)

Yet, sometimes, it does still seem magical. I like that in the world.

Marc Geelhoed said...

In my previous life as an aspiring trumpeter, I thought AP would've allowed me to take over the world. I could play in tune and know that I was in tune w/o having to ,think so hard about it. The printed music would be audible in my head, immediately! It would also make following chord changes much easier. I make due w/ my substandard ears now, and muddle through as best I can.

I'd much prefer the trouble people w/ AP supposedly have of incorporating tones into a harmonic context instead of having to discover that harmonic context in whole cloth, as I do now, too.

Jackie said...

...non-musicians regard it as something magical that all good musicians have.

Isn't that the truth? One of the required classes for my college, we get to pick from a variety, but the only one arts related (I am a music major after all) was Film and the Fine Arts. We spent three weeks on sound and music opposed to one on things like cinematography, color, or lighting. The professor will play a piece and say "here's c minor (I think), F major, c minor, F major... you! What's that next chord?" Just because I'm the music major, he expects me to be able to tell him immediately. I could tell you it was unrelated and has an F#, but that's about it! I have a good pitch memory although not AP.