Absolute Pitch Research Study

There are many articles about absolute pitch that emphasize how rare it is. And therefore claim it must be something special. These articles continue to study abnormalities, separate people into categories of possessors and non possessors and they speak of pseudo absolute pitch and what they think “real” absolute pitch is.

These articles just have the wrong approach! They treat absolute pitch like a Holy Grail. They speak of perfect pitch, which makes it even worse.

Instead of combining properties and narrow them to a few super specific characteristics to specify if someone has or does not have absolute pitch, I start the other way round: open, single property and linear measurable way.

What do I mean by that? Let me give an example what I mean: Would you say, that a person that needs more than 10 seconds to run 100 meters, couldn't run? How do you define the word run? To run is a very open specification; you can run in many different ways. But to combine it with the property “less then 10 seconds”, narrows the word to very, very few people. Yet, you can simply measure the time people need to run 100 meters, and get a useful number, to categorize the mean running speed: for example group it for gender, age, and so on..

So, we define absolute pitch simply as the possibility to assign a pitch a note name within a tolerance. We do not care about the time needed to solve the question. To be a little bit scientific, we may limit the time to 10 seconds. To be even more scientific, we limit the range of pitches you have to be able to identify to, let us say, one and half octaves. But, we don’t just say yes or no: we measure your deviation from the target pitch in cents.

So our result for example is: you have absolute pitch to a precision of 220 cents. If you want to be in the club of the Holy Grail, your precision should be less than 50 cents. And of course, you have to fulfill other criteria too. But we keep it simple and isolate the question to: "Can you identify pitches, and to which precision". I think, it doesn't make sense to have complex criteria, when in fact you should separate the important question from the rest. Then you don’t need dismissive terms like pseudo absolute pitch to describe the ability to identify pitches.

With this definition, the question gets very simple: to which precision can “normal” people identify pitches? And can "normal" people improve their precision with training?

If we can prove that indeed, you can improve your ability towards that goal, then the question becomes: why do so many people not make use of this possibility?

Obviously, the most likely answer is: That it is not worthwhile the effort. Absolute pitch is useless. When you need absolute pitch, you can use a pitchfork instead. Why bother with absolute pitch, when you only can impress others with it? You could as well spend your time to learn to juggle with three balls. You would have more possibilities to show off your talent.

However, that does not mean, that absolute pitch is completely useless. You can still use absolute pitch as a goal to improve your listening skills. A good ear is still a musician’s best friend. A good ear means that you can distinguish subtle (relative) pitch differences. So absolute pitch ear training helps you to improve your relative pitch skills. And relative pitch skills are a must for every musician.

Our method rolls up the field from back: the observation that many singers can hit a note, when asked to sing a specific song, leads to the conclusion that the pitches are stored in their long-term memory. So, we let you produce the pitches to your best knowledge. That is, you have to sing or hum the notes presented to you. We measure your deviation. If you can hit a note constantly within a specified tolerance, then you must have an imagination of that pitch to that tolerance. Through training you should be able to narrow your tolerance. And thus your stored image of the pitch gets better. Thus your recognition ability also improves.

So with our study we want to prove that you can improve your ability to identify pitches and that the ability to identify pitches within a certain precision is “normal”.

To proof this, we need your help. Please, download the free trial version. Do the exercises during 100 days and export your timeline statistics after 100 days of training: On the “Select Lesson / Exercise page”, click “TimelineNumbers”. In the up-coming window click “Export”. Fill in “Gender”, “Age” and if you have any musical experience please let us also know. Click “Export” again. Then send the exported file as an attachment to our support address:

Important: the beauty of slowness

The Singing Funnel method has two modes: 1) normal and 2) the training mode.

There are separate scores for normal and training mode. However, only for the normal mode statistics data get collected.

It is important that you always start with the normal mode. Why? Because this mode is standardized. In the training mode you can change and ease the exercises to your liking. therefore, there is no real progress tracking. So, if you start with the easy training mode, to warm you up, it is like cheating: in this way you the do not measure where you stand, since you have reference pitches in your mind.

To get a feeling, for how accurate you remember a pitch, you should not have done any musical activity for at least a quarter of an hour before you try to remember the pitches. Otherwise it is likely that you are testing relative pitch and not absolute pitch. Of course it is good if you get better in relative pitch. However, for best confidence it is best to improve both areas: absolute and relive pitch.

Also an important point: never start with a new exercise. Always proof yourself that you have truly mastered the last accuracy level before continuing with new challenges. In this way you build a solid foundation. And a solid foundation is more important than speed.

Yes, it is the beauty of slowness that brings you to the goal. In normal mode the tempo is set to slow, and you have to wait a little between the tests. This is on purpose! You should really capture and concentrate on the pitch. However, we don't want to torture you: that is why we recommend that you only do ten minutes of training in the normal mode, before switching to training mode or other exercises.

Yes, this is slowness: you should not do more than ten minutes of training in normal mode. Isn't that beautiful, stay relaxed and don't force you in something that doesn't work. After the first minute or two, you most likely loose your concentration for absolute pitch characteristics, and continue with relative pitch. Relax, and enjoy the beauty of slowness: It takes only 5 minutes per day. Don't overdue it! However, during this five minutes truly concentrate and prepare yourself to hit the pitch spot on. If you do regular daily five to ten minute training to improve absolute pitch recognition, then your brain will realize what you are about to learn. And the brain will allow you the necessary concentration, on how to remember the positioning of your vocal cords precisely.

One reason, why some people believe that after the age of five are no more capable of acquiring absolute pitch may be: because your personality growth, and refuses to accept relentless correction of your voice. Later, you may learn a foreign language, and you will accept correction for the pronunciation again. But at this point, it is something new you want to learn and therefore you accept correction again. In contrast: pitch isn't seen as a really new category, it was always there and therefore is not something you have to learn. You assume, that you should know it by the time. But you forget that you refused to accept correction, since you started to discover your personality during that time. Yes, your voice is something very personal: to give that up, is like throwing away your life.

But, - if you missed to acquire perfect pitch during early childhood -,we believe you can learn absolute pitch like a foreign language. Just accept that absolute pitch is a new discipline for you and that speed is not important in the beginning. Observe your progress and confidence by concentrating and giving everything during the first five training minutes. And you will see that you will be able to remember pitches within a precision of 480 cents for certain. Yes, in the beginning only two notes. But then three, five and more notes. And you will see that you can improve your precision to 220 cents, and continue the path. But that doesn't mean that you can reach a precision of 7 cents. However, enjoy your progress and enjoy the slowness of your progress, even if you have some setbacks.

 

Public Schools ask for a free version

Public schools can ask for free versions. We expect that you survey and encourage the students to complete the 100 day period and to send in the statistics at the end or if the student quits the program early. If you are a student on a public school, please ask your teacher to get the program for free for you.

Private Music schools ask for free version

If you operate a private music school and have a web-site, then you can get free copies for your students by placing a link to us on your web site and sending a minimum 5 day statistic for each student that wants to participate. The above offers can be withdrawn any time without prior notice.

If you have any questions or would like to make any comments to our methods or to this page, please use send an email to the above mentioned address or use our Blog: PitchFeedback

View the AP-Study Statistics: AP-Study-Statistics

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