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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000488.txt from 2002/05

Subj: [kl] Perfect Pitch
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 09:47:33 -0400

There are several kinds of perfect pitch. I don't have even a hint of it,
but I know people whose ears are "stuck" on A-440 and have a hard time with
transposing instruments or even a group tuned to A-442. My wife and I have
two reproductions of a Bressan recorder pitched at A-405, 3/4 of a step below
modern pitch. We tried to play them with a couple of people with this sort
of perfect pitch, and they couldn't bear it.

On the other hand, the baroque/classical oboist Michel Piguet has extremely
acute perfect pitch, but he switches easily from 440 to 427 (which is more or
less the standard for "classical instrument" Mozart) to 415 (1/2 step below
440 and the standard for "baroque instrument" work) to 410, 405 and 392
("French pitch," a whole step down from 440). He also switches among various
temperaments. He told me it takes him a few minutes to get used to the new
bearing, and then he doesn't notice it.

Singers, even those without perfect pitch, can go fairly easily from 440 to
415, which is exactly 1/2 step, but every one of them I've talked to who has
tried to sing Mozart at 427 has had terrible trouble, because they're
familiar with the feeling of singing on particular pitches, but singing "in
the cracks" is unfamiliar.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw


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