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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000475.txt from 2002/05

From: "Ian Black" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Perfect pitch (was Metal clarinets)
Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 14:00:52 -0400

I have perfect pitch (or at least what some people call perfect pitch - I
can't sing accurately a given note, but can identify a note when I hear it).
The clarinet is not a problem as all the time when learning, I was (not
consciously) conditioning myself to hear the transposed pitch when playing
clarinet. I think my mind has got used to processing a C on the staff
corresponding to a C fingering, but the resulting pitch will be a Bb. I do
have trouble with the A clarinet (but not the Eb - probably because it's a
5th away and less easy to confuse!) but manage (most of the time) not to let
it put me off.

What I do have immense bother with is my digital piano (or any electronic
keyboard). If I need to change key, I can't simply hit the transpose button
and play normally. Hard to explain, but my ear/brain knows what the pitch
is, but it's not what my fingers are playing, so I can't process it
properly. I can't shift my brain, so I start shifting my fingers to the keys
corresponding to what I hear. For example if I'm accompanying a song in D,
but the singer can't reach the highest note and needs it transposed to C, I
_have_ to either rewrite the piece into C or transpose at sight. I know that
I'll not be able to just transpose the keyboard down a couple of semitones -
and if I try, I'll end up fingering in C, with pitch in Bb, then end up
fingering in Bb with pitch in Ab etc. etc. etc .....

Also holds true for a piano which is out of tune by more than a quarter tone
(i.e. is closer in pitch to the next note along than the one actually



-----Original Message-----
From: James Leonard Hobby []
Subject: [kl] Perfect pitch (was Metal clarinets)

I don't have perfect pitch, but went to school with a girl who did. She had
problems in woodwind class with any of the transposing instruments.

My understanding is that a person with true perfect pitch would, on the
clarinet, see a D on the printed page; would finger and play a D on their
clarinet, but they would "hear" a C, since the clarinet is a Bb transposing
instrument. It apparently becomes more than just the problem of hearing
something out of tune, but until (or unless) the individual can develop the
mind to essentially ignore the difference in what they see/hear.

Jim Hobby

PS: I think curiosity only kills cats.

>From: "Kimber" <>
>Thanks Bill. Seriously. I knew some of that already, but you have clarified
>it a bit more. Since you seem so well informed, would you mind explaining
>why having a voice with perfect pitch is supposed to interfere with my
>playing?I participate in both band and choir, and, as I am sure you
>I have perfect pitch. The pro who told me this said that it would probably
>interfere with my clarinet playing, but in my mind I would think that it
>would enhance it, because you would know for sure if you played the wrong
>note or you weren't in tune. Please, explain it, and if not you, then
>someone else. I need to know! I will die of curiosity otherwise.


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