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 "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-03-26 23:51

I hope this question makes sense to at least one of you: the question being those who read by pitch (as opposed to reading by fingering,) how do you manage reading both Bb parts on a Bb clarinet and A parts on an A clarinet? Do you just somehow get used to it? So you'd see a written C on a Bb clarinet part and a Bb would come out when you fingered for a C, but when you see a written C on an A clarinet part an A comes out when you finger for a C. (But since I read by pitch, on a Bb part when I see a written C, I am reading what I call Bb clef and I label the dot on the page as the pitch I'm supposed to play, which is a Bb.) I don't know that I could ever adjust to playing both Bb and A clarinets, because I'd be a) reading two different clefs, the Bb clef and the A clef, and the fingerings for all the written notes would only be off by half a step. It would drive me around the bend, probably, unlike for example oboe and English horn, which are far enough apart in pitch and feel differently enough in the hand that it is not a problem.

Those of you who do not have pitch recognition, this question will make no sense because you read by fingering and having the pitch a half step off from what you expect likely does not throw you into the nearest ditch.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: Klose 2017
Date:   2018-03-27 01:08

Everyone can get used to that for sure.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: gavalanche20 
Date:   2018-03-27 03:46

The very first time I picked up a clarinet, without knowing it was tuned in B-flat, I put it together and blew into an open G, and started panicking when all that came out was a concert F and there was nothing I could do to change it. Then I played the tutorial CD from the Essential Elements book we were told to purchase with a clarinet and finally realized why that was the case. Since then it hasn't bothered me at all, however.

For what it's worth I think that playing clarinet has actually improved my sightreading since it made me realize how much I relied on pitch memory to read stuff like choral passages and forced me to rely on other means that musicians without perfect pitch use like looking at the intervals notes and stuff like that.

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Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2018-03-31 07:07

The thing that gets to me when someone says they've got 'perfect pitch' is what reference are you using ? Modern A440/442 . or Baroque A415 or thereabouts. The modern Baroque pitch is A415 by consensus. Then there is the modern high A448 apparently , or is it a modern low A438. Or in other words , what is the real pitch of any given A and is that the one being used as a reference for all other notes.


Post Edited (2018-03-31 07:08)

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: gavalanche20 
Date:   2018-03-31 20:54

It gets to me too, that’s exactly why I’ve started using the term ‘pitch memory’ instead.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-03-31 21:35

I think "pitch memory" is a better description. I think the ability to associate specific frequencies with specific pitch names is probably inborn (and one poster here fairly recently insisted nearly everyone has it) but, like so many other natural abilities, it's stronger in some than in others. There still needs, I think, to be consistent exposure to a set of "correct" pitches for the learner to develop "perfect pitch," and those pitches *must* be locally determined. I've never met anyone who had "perfect pitch" who didn't grow up in an A440 locale. But I've always been curious about how a person with "perfect pitch" from an area that uses A=435 or A=445, etc. fares when he or she begins playing consistently in a different pitch environment. Does he over time re-calibrate his sense of pitch to the local tuning?

And a biggie (I think) - is "perfect pitch" as modern musicians experience it based on equal temperament, just temperament or something else? Are these musicians bothered when they hear notes tuned outside the temperament they've learned by rote?

I know an oboist who, long ago, played clarinet but gave it up because she couldn't get used to hearing the "wrong" notes when she played clarinet. But she still uses a Korg to check her tuning note when she tunes an orchestra. Is "perfect pitch" not that accurate - just gets the person "in the ballpark?"


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Author: FwLineberry 
Date:   2018-03-31 22:49

Barry Vincent wrote:

> The thing that gets to me when someone says they've got
> 'perfect pitch' is what reference are you using ? Modern
> A440/442 . or Baroque A415 or thereabouts. The modern Baroque
> pitch is A415 by consensus. Then there is the modern high A448
> apparently , or is it a modern low A438. Or in other words ,
> what is the real pitch of any given A and is that the one
> being used as a reference for all other notes.

I don't have perfect pitch, just a decently trained ear, but your questions make me want to ask "What frequency is the color orange?"

If we can easily accept that orange comes in various degrees and shades across a visual frequency spectrum, how hard is it to imagine that an A sounds like an A across an audio frequency spectrum... just a little more sharp or flat... like orange being a little more yellow or a little more red but still orange?


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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: gavalanche20 
Date:   2018-04-01 00:18

Karl, I certainly wouldn't call it that accurate, "ballpark" seems to be a good term, but perhaps a very small ballpark. So I do still need a tuner for my clarinet, although I can tell if, say, I've pulled the barrel out too far and the throat tones are way off. I don't know if there are other people who are more precise with their sense of pitch.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2018-04-02 20:01

I call it pitch recognition because so many think that when you label it "perfect" pitch that you can nail all pitches to an exact frequency. I've never met anyone who can do that, but I've met many who can tell you what note or collection of notes (doesn't matter how many there are) you just played for them on the piano. I did know someone with pitch recognition who grew up with a piano that was a half step flat, and his pitch recognition was based on that.

Even back when I was younger and my recognition was not starting to slip (apparently it is common to have it "slip" after age 60, and I am 68 now) if you gave me a tone generator and I turned the knob until it sounded like an A 440 to me, in general I'd hit 438. So maybe my formative pitch years were on a piano whose A was slightly flat of 440. However, with my violin, I could nail 440 when tuning it not only because of the recognition but because over the many years I recognized its 440 resonance. Now, I am often off by half a step when I'm listening to something on the radio, unless I know the piece. I've always listened knowing what key the piece was in that I was listening to, and what the pitches of all the notes were. I admit it is disconcerting to not be absolutely certain of what I'm hearing any more; kind of like losing your color vision and you no longer are sure if it's blue or green you're seeing.

The other assumption I've seen about pitch recognition is that those people are not listening for beats and therefore don't play in tune with others. Not so....the recognition is of the "general" pitch and doesn't lock one into a frequency. At least here; it depends on the pitch's position within the chord, assuming one is playing tonal music. Atonal music, all bets are off and one has to revert to what one does to play with a piano.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-04-03 14:23

Interesting. My piano tuner has a customer who's perfect pitch has gone flat. Rather than use a tuning fork, he has to tune her piano to an A which she sings to him.

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 Re: "Perfect" pitch and Bb/A clarinets
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-04-03 16:59

Occasionally I use anti-inflammatories due to old/inflamed joints. I know that when I take certain types I will get a period of tinnitus that will last for around 3 weeks after I cease taking them. The note that I hear when this happens is an absolutely perfect C. A convenient way to tune, although not one that I would recommend.

Tony F.

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