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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000566.txt from 2002/05

From: "Lacy Schroeder" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Perfect Pitch
Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 15:26:23 -0400

Bill, this is hitting the nail right on the head, at least for me. The
difference A=3D440 and A=3D442 is no problem because those are both =
enough and I can handle the adjustment, but listening to a recording of
something at A=3D415 takes a lot of getting used to and causes a lot of
grated nerves on my part! For instance, I once heard on the radio (while
I was driving) a recording of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 (I
think No. 4 is the one for two recorders/transverse flutes/whatever).
Anyway, the tuning was so low, it drove me absolutely batty and I almost
wrecked my car as I screamed and fumbled around in my irritation to
change the station. :)=20

The next time I heard the piece was in an orchestration class a few
years ago, and I recalled the incident in my car and felt this
overwhelming urge to pick up my desk and hurl it at the stereo. I still
can't stand the sound of the recorder to this day.=20

Related to this point, whenever I hear someone play out of tune (any
note placed *not* where it should be in the standard temperament), it
sounds like they're not even playing the correct notes and they might as
well be playing wrong notes altogether. It's one of my frustrations in
teaching some of my students, but I do manage to control myself. :)

As an aside, the orchestra conductor at Northwestern has excellent
perfect pitch, and it's just amazing what he can hear. You think you can
get away with something, think you won't be heard--think again!! But I
think he looks at it as a curse, and you can tell that he gets peevish
about it at times, although many envy his gift.

I find it interesting that when I was writing a term paper on tuning and
temperament systems, I read that many organ builders back in the day
built organs with split keys in order to avoid "wolf fifths" that would
occur between say, Ab and D# (which with equal temperament the D# would
just be enharmonic with Eb and wouldn't matter). With this tuning system
(I think it was with the meantone system--someone will correct me if I
remember wrong, I'm sure), D# and Eb were two completely different
notes. I also read that even with the advent of equal temperament,
string players and singers play in just intonation, in which the
intervals are tuned to their natural purity.=20

As for pieces for orchestra that are transcribed for band (or rarely,
vice versa) and are placed in a different key from the original, this
dives me insane also (short trip) if I know the original version. Of
course, I know this is a different subject altogether, but I think it
relates to the topic.=20

Sorry for getting so off-subject, but I thought it would be interesting
to explore these other aspects of pitch.=20


> For those of us with relative pitch it is no problem at all. =20
> To those with=20
> PERFECT pitch, A=3D440 and A=3D427 or even A=3D442 are actually=20
> perceived as=20
> Bill Hausmann >=20


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