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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000502.txt from 2002/05

From: Bill Hausmann <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Perfect Pitch
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 17:51:10 -0400

At 09:47 AM 5/19/2002 -0400, Ken Shaw wrote:

>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.

As far as I know, there is not biological reason why one would be tied to
A=440 except that, over time, one gets TRAINED to accept that as
correct. Those who are both highly sensitive to pitch variations and
relatively inflexible about it have a difficult time when, for whatever
reason, that standard is not followed. It can be much easier on the psyche
to have good "relative pitch." I know I only have to hear a note or two
and my ear will fall right into whatever pitch that sets. If you suddenly
change in the middle of the piece, though, that will cause me some
anguish! I would expect that switching from Bb to A clarinets would drive
a person with perfect pitch nuts!

Bill Hausmann
451 Old Orchard Drive
Essexville, MI 48732 ICQ UIN 4862265

If you have to mic a saxophone, the rest of the band is TOO LOUD!


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