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Relatively Perfect

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Relatively Perfect

Some individuals can identify musical notes without the aid of a give tone. They are not limited to pitch-naming, the can also perform several musical skills, such as identifying a song’s key signature, labeling all tones of a given chord, mentally notating a piece and recognizing the pitches of everyday sounds like a dog’s bark of a phone’s ring. This ability can be achieved through practice. It is said that ear-trained people cringe when they hear specific songs san out-of-tune. Although they are known to be sensitive around sounds, their hearing is no different from an “average” person’s. This musical ability is known as “perfect pitch”.

The ear can be very sensitive to music since music is composed of different pitches. Pitch perception is the way a person “observes” music. There are two different pitch perceptions. Relative pitch perception, or often shorten to “relative pitch”, is basically defined as the hearing ability to identify pitches with the aid of a given pitch; it is also the ear’s ability to recognize the range between two notes which is called the interval. On the other hand, perfect pitch perception—or perfect pitch—does not need help from a reference note.

A person who has perfect pitch and relative pitch could have been training through the years. Or he is born with perfect pitch and only attained relative pitch through practice. He could also be a conservatory student who mastered the art of pitch perception because of the musical atmosphere he is in. Either way, whether the listener is a musical prodigy or not, these two pitch perceptions are attainable and available for everyone.

The ability of perfect pitch is common among experienced and trained musicians, not just legendary composers. Music students are required to seek ear-training to develop sensitivity to music. Nevertheless, this ability can also be inborn. For instance, Tina Turner, despite not being a formally trained musician, was described to have flawless ears. Another example is Jimi Hendrix who did not have enough money to buy a guitar tuner when he started to learn to play the guitar, so, he went to a music shop, played one of the guitars for the correct tuning, and then went home to his guitar. The late Michael Jackson was known to have possessed the auditory gift. As Will I. am described, “He mi mimi’d for three hours. Perfect Pitch.” Perfect pitch perception or absolute pitch perception is the auditory phenomenon that is characterized by the key skill of an individual to perceive and to name tones without aid. People who are absolute pitched are mistaken to possess “supernatural hearing” that their hearing differs from the “ordinary” people. In reality, they hear the same thing, but only their brain functions differently because it processes the names of the pitches they hear.David Lucas Burge stated, “Perfect pitch… is the refined perception of color within individual pitches.” What he meant was that perfect pitch brings color and flavor to the listener with the ability to recognize and to familiarize with the tones of the melody.

Relative pitch is defined as the auditory skill to identify a note with an aid—either from a tuning fork or a given pitch. Also, this perception allows the listener to be sensitive to the distances of moving melodies. Likewise, perfect pitch is analogous to relative only differed by the ability to notate without help from a support. It is said musicians are required to have the two. Relative pitch perception is not limited to musicians. Also, it has a different set of skills: the ability to identify the distances between two given notes, the sensitivity toward movement of flowing melody, and the skill to sing a pitch correctly with only given a reference tone. Those who have relative pitch have their own way of identifying a pitch. First, the listener will be given specific note—the aiding pitch depends on the giver. After receiving the reference, he will be asked to sing a certain note. He will then either hum or mentally recall the given pitch. In order to sing the asked-for pitch, he we must move from the given pitch a whole-step away or a half step away. A whole step or a whole tone is the distance from one note to the adjacent. For example, do to re is a whole tone like from sol to la. On the other hand, the half step or semitone is half of the distance of one note to the next. For instance, do to do sharp is a half-step because do sharp is the tone in between do and re. He will keep moving step by step until he has reached the pitch he’s looking for. This is how people with relative pitch perception look for a tone.

People often think that perfect pitch is far more superior to relative pitch. Even professional musicians think of this. It is the thought of perceiving a note and identifying the name that persuades people to think that relative pitch perception has no utter use. Little did they know, relative pitch perception is far more complex than perfect pitch perception. The former is more theoretical than the latter. Those who have relative pitch perception tend to critically analyze music. They often find themselves processing the music they hear and distinguishing the nature of the song. David L. Burge stated that “perfect pitch is color hearing”, meaning to say that this music technique is very much like how our eyes perceive color. Music is hearing art; the ear that can understand pitch has a deep perspective on music language. Everyone can enjoy music, but an untrained ear has a “blurry vision”. For instance, when a “non-pitch” person hears a chord it only passes by with no distinction; the listener’s ear “sees” a blurred black and white photograph. On the other hand, those who have relative pitch have a sharper auditory vision than those who don’t, and they have mastered the musical language by ear. These people find it easier to identify the nature of the chord because of their sensitivity to intervals. Though they can tell whether the chord is a minor or major, they still need something to name the exact note; the image may be clear, but it lacks color. Now, perfect pitch gives music flavor, allowing the listener to distinguish pitches. Unfortunately, perfect pitch alone does not give a clear picture because it only literally identifies the pitch color; although the imagery is vivid, it’s still fuzzy. It needs relative pitch to support its painting; relative pitch gives the mastery of chords, intervals, harmony, and also speed recognition in moving music. Perfect pitch and relative pitch combined give a clear, high-definition picture and completes one’s musical experience.

Perfect pitch and relative pitch both have their advantages. When it comes to perceiving intervals (the specific distances between two notes), the latter helps the listener nonchalantly determine the distance. Those who have relative pitch are far more sensitive to jumpy, passing melodies. Unfortunately for the former, determining the distance of two notes is a tardy task. This is because of the way perfect pitch perception obtains sounds. Those who have this perception would name pitches rather than count the distance between the two notes. Though relative pitch perception has an advantage for determining distances, naming a specific pitch is a fairly difficult objective especially when there is no given reference. Having both perceptions gives off a whole new set of advantages altogether. With the ability of relative pitch perception to identify intervals quickly and with the ability of perfect pitch perception to name a pitch, determining chord progressions—a series of moving chords like those in a song—is quite easy. As the individual listens to a certain song, he is not just aware of names of the pitches, but understands the movements of the melody such that he is able to tell exact pitch and rhythm. The listener also has learned to appreciate. The combination of both auditory skills allows the listener not only to enjoy music, but also indulge in a deeper understanding.

Sentences: 75

Sources and References: Zatorre, Robert (July 2003). "Absolute pitch: a model for understanding the influence of genes and development on neural and cognitive function". Nature Neuroscience 6 (7): 692–695. doi:10.1038/nn1085. PMID 12830161.

David Lucas Burge. "Perfect Pitch: A Gift or an Achievement? Focus on Listening Color your Music with Perfect Pitch!"…...

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