Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do I Have Perfect Pitch?

If I'm going to dedicate a blog to the subject of perfect pitch, I might as well address  this question early on. Do I have perfect pitch?

Well, yes and no. I can clearly hear differences between different notes, but I cant identify them very well. In past ear training attempts, I could identify nearly two octaves of notes on my keyboard. But, due to my lack of training in recent months, that ability has drifted off. 

Having perfect pitch is not like a light switch, where some people have it off and others have it on. Its a range of hearing levels that differ for everyone. Some people may only be able to identify notes on their primary instruments, while others can sing any note of their choosing at any time. 

Relative pitch is much the same way. Some people have a very good relative pitch and can write down a very complicated melody, while others may only be able to point out a perfect fifth or fourth. It is all relative pitch, but some are better at it than others.

This is really important to note when exploring the world of perfect pitch, because you are probably going to hear conflicting testimonies about it. Some people may hear a pitch in every noise that they hear, while others need an instrument to be played to hear it. No one person with perfect pitch has the "true" experience with it. Admittedly, this does damage my credibility, but it also encourages me to encounter a variety of people with the ability and see what the common traits are.

See you soon,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How Perfect Pitch Works

If you are going to learn how to get perfect pitch, then its essential that you understand how perfect pitch works.

Perfect pitch, is about learning to hear the subtle differences between each note in the chromatic scale. No, this has nothing to do with the intervals between the note. That is relative pitch. It is much more subtle than that. Every note has its own unique flavor to it (another word you could use is color) and when you can hear the difference between each note, and identify a note by its own color, you have perfect pitch.

You have probably experienced the flavor of notes before. For example, have you ever transposed a piece of music from one key to the next, or heard a song change key in its final chorus? It sounds completely different, right? Yes, it does sound higher or lower, but it is almost as if the song was given a different flavor. This is what perfect pitch is, only rather than hearing the differences between key signatures, you hear the difference between each note. 

Try this, go to your primary instrument. (If you do not have a primary instrument, or are not sure of what to use, then use a piano.) Play a concert F#, then compare it to a C#. Be sure to not pay any attention to the interval between them, just listen to each individual note. You may notice that the F# sticks out much more and has a kind of edge to it while the C# has a more relaxed feel to it.

If you hear it only a little, but have a hard time pinpointing it, than that is okay. You may hear the difference very well, or you may not hear them at all. It can take some training to get used to. But hearing the difference is how perfect pitch works. It is simple as that.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

On Synths

If the information on my itunes is correct, than David Lucas Burge's course was released in the year 1999, making this course at least fifteen years old. While most of the course is perfectly fine to use, and will be for a long time, Burge's suggestions on synthesizers are a little dated.

It is worth pointing out that there now exists a number of electronic musicians who do not play instruments, but largely focus on composition, sound design and production. This, obviously, is a result of the digital boom in the past few decades.

So, to those electronic musicians out there who do not have a primary instrument, allow me to give you a few suggestions on what to use:

1. Kontakt or Stock Piano Library. This one is a little obvious. But if your midi controller lacks its own piano sound, or you don't like it, than it is not a bad idea to use a library from your daw or from Kontackt. I would also recommend this to someone who someone who plays something like a flute but wants to use the keyboard exercises. Using a library with your primary instrument may be a good alternative.

2. A Single Sine, Square or Saw Wave. Burge suggested that, if there are no piano settings on your synth, which many synths do not, than to use a single sine wave for training. This is not a bad idea, however I would argue that you could also use other wave shapes such as a saw or square wave. The key is, make sure it is something that you use frequently.

3. A Common Sound That You Use. If you have a particular lead or pluck that you like using, such as a super saw, than it is probably not a bad idea to use that sound. Just be sure to have little to no detuning in your patch. In fact, outside of some reverb or EQ, I would keep the patch as dry as possible. But whatever you use, be sure to save it so you have a constant sound to work with when you are starting your ear training. 

 Those are my suggestions to using modern tech when studying perfect pitch.
See you soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I am happy to announce that this blog now has its very own domain (if you couldn't already guess):

Though there are a few things that still need to be done (like a more original layout) the new domain feels like an official declaration.

See you soon.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Perfect Pitch, Relative Pitch and Frequency Training

There seems to be some misinformation about perfect pitch and what it is. I find that some people confuse perfect pitch with relative pitch or tone guessing. So, I think it is worth clearing that up.

What is perfect pitch? 

Perfect pitch, which is sometimes referred to as absolute pitch, is the ability to name any note by ear without a reference note. If you were to sit down at a piano and play a note to someone with perfect pitch, they would be able to name that note without looking.

What is relative pitch? 

Relative pitch is the ability to name an interval. It can also be used to name notes when given a reference pitch. For example, if you were to play a C for someone with relative pitch, then say to them "what is this note?" and play a G, they would be able to name it. They would also be able to tell you that the interval is a perfect fifth. Simply put, relative pitch is the study of intervals.

What is frequency training? 

Frequency training, is a term that I made up. I do not know what the official term for it is. Essentially, frequency training is learning to recognize different frequency ranges. This is mostly used in music production. Having a good ear for frequency ranges allows an audio engineer to listen to a song, and know immediately which frequency ranges are conflicting.

I bring this up because some people believe that having perfect pitch allows someone to name any frequency down to the hertz. The reality is that no one can do this, especially in the higher frequencies. Someone with perfect pitch will be able to tell you what note it is, but they may not be able to tell you the exact frequency.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Start Up

Hello everyone,
My intentions for this blog are to write about my experiences as work through the David Lucas Burge Perfect Pitch Super Course.

This is not the first time that I have worked through the course. In the past, I worked through 19 of the 24 lessons that the course has to offer. However, I have dropped it for various reasons. Most of those reasons were personal.

Over the next several months, I would like to restart the course for the third time and complete it. I am sure that you have heard the saying, "the third time is the charm."

This will also be a bigger challenge than my last attempts. For in the past, I have trained on my keyboard. This time, I am going to be working with my guitar. The exercises for the guitar differ greatly than for the piano. Hopefully, the new timbre and the new exercises will not hold me back too much.

I encourage everyone to follow along as I explore the mysterious world of Perfect Pitch.

See you soon.