Sonntag, 13. September 2015

What has Absolute Pitch to do with Tuning?

Tuning is a relative activity

Let’s make it clear: Tuning is a relative activity. You always tune your instrument relative to another reference sound. Or at least it is what you should do. To tune the instrument according to the equal-tempered frequencies is a too simple look. Old instruments (e. g. church organ) may not be tuned to that standard. Or high temperatures may change the frequencies of wind instruments. Therefore, if you accompany such an instrument, you must listen to the actual sound. If you want to play in harmony, you must tune your instrument accordingly to the actual sound, and not an equal tempered reference sound (e. g. pitch fork).

Unless a special effect is desired, the tuning should be as precise as possible. Meaning, there should be no deviations, or relative differences, between the pitch-frequencies of the two instruments. No deviation means zero deviation. Zero is an absolute number. Let’s see how this absolute number influences the tuning process.

The Tuning Process needs Time

Usually, there are deviations between two instruments. To adapt the pitch to a reference pitch, needs time. Unfortunately, if we do not have a perfect sound memory, we lose the reference sound in our mind. That is, we leave that zero deviation principle. Therefore after a certain time, we want to rehear the reference sound again.

If we have absolute pitch, then we don't need to rehear the sound, since we can recall the pitch from our memory. This is even true, if the reference pitch deviates from the equal-tempered pitches, since we can remember the nearest equal-tempered pitch and the deviation to that pitch. We can compare this to having a meter without a millimeter marking. We are still able to give an approximate millimeter distance by estimating the millimeters. Usually we do this by estimating a ratio, such as a half or quarter of a cm. The better ones, - those that are trained to read a meter -, will give estimations exact to approximately one twentieth of a cm. So, if you have absolute pitch, you will do the same to remember pitches between equal-tempered pitches.

Combining relative activity and time in the tuning process

If we now combine the skills of tuning and the time before we have to rehear the pitch, then we can compare the tuning process with absolute pitch. There are two dimension:
  1. Pitch precision
  2. Time before we have to rehear the pitch
Pitch precision can be measured in cents. A deviation of zero cents is desired. We need this for tuning as well as for absolute pitch.

The time before we have to rehear the pitch can be measured in seconds. It is the time within which you can still tune the instrument accurately before you have to rehear the reference pitch again.

The time during which you can remember the reference sound still better than a deviation of fifty cents, we call: your Absolute Pitch Point. Yes, you can claim absolute pitch during that period. And yes it is relative to a heard pitch. But equal-tempered pitches are just pitches, therefore absolute pitch is relative to predefined pitches. In this way to claim absolute pitch independent of a time period, you must stretch the time before you must rehear a reference pitch to more than a day.

Acquiring Absolute Pitch

A day is a very long time: you hear news, talk, listen to music, watch tv, dream, etc. But you don't really have to stretch the time to a day. What you must find is a mean to store a sound, in such a way, so that you can recall the sound from your memory, or "inner ear". By exploring your limits, your brain realizes what to look and concentrate for. If you can answer relative pitch questions correctly after 2 seconds have elapsed, then you can also do it for notes that are 3 seconds apart. Then also for notes 4 seconds apart and so on. No, Wait! That is not so easy! Correct, but on the borders you feel exactly what you have to concentrate on to keep the sound in your memory for a bit longer. Concentrating is hard work, and you become tired very fast. But knowing that it is possible, with some effort, allows you to set goals towards acquiring absolute pitch.

By becoming a tuning champion, chances are that you also achieve absolute pitch

Unlike some of our competitors, we don't warrant achieving absolute pitch. However, our products support you to reach that goal by giving feedback and tracking your progress.
Whether you are interested in acquiring Absolute Pitch or not, tuning needs precision listening. Through ear training and our Precision Listening Method you can improve your listening skills. With our Pitch Keeper Method you can train to keep a sound in your memory for a longer time period. To be honest, our methods all set on an activity called: singing. But you don't need the voice of Luciano Pavarotti or Mariah Carey to improve your listening skills, just humming is a good start.Our feedback will give you control of your vocal cord muscles and confidence that you are on the right track.

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