This is going to be the first of a series of blog posts that I write.
If you are reading this, you probably share my curiosity, or perhaps even my obsession on developing an ear that is so receptive that it can pick out the notes from a squeaky door.
Why would you want perfect pitch? I can’t speak for everyone, but I do believe I can speak for all musicians when I say that a well-trained ear is one of the most important assets a musician can have. I’m not pushing theory, technique, and personality out the window. However, many musicians have technique, understand music theory, and have personality in their music, but having a great ear would open their mind and abilities to new levels.
With perfect pitch, not only does it become easier to create the music you hear in your mind, but you’ll hear sound differently. You’ll hear warmth and color in the notes that you were not aware of before, and it will be apparent in your music.
Can You Really Develop Perfect Pitch?
Undoubtedly, yes. But I, personally, am only in the beginning stages. That is why this is going to be a series of blog posts. I am going to tell you what I have learned and how I have progressed.
You might be wondering why everyone doesn’t have perfect pitch, if anyone can develop it. There may be many answers to that question. Some people simply don’t feel they have a need for this skill; and maybe they don’t. Others may just not want to take the time to develop it. Yes, it does take time. But, you might be able to hear tone color within just one day.
For myself, I have been practicing for a week now, and I’m just beginning to be able to hear tone color. It is so subtle, that it often comes to me as a feeling, rather than an obvious answer. But that feeling is developing into something more precise.
Today, my car was beeping, and I said to myself, “That is an F#.” And I was right. It wasn’t a lucky guess. There are three notes that I’m able to hone in on rather well, and hear with a higher degree of accuracy. I don’t use tension in my singing voice to guage the note. In fact, I hear it completely in my head before even singing the note at all. I don’t use relative pitch with a song on the radio to guess the note. I know the note, because I hear the tone color.
What Is Tone Color?
Most people hear the timbre of a sound. This might allow you to identify the instrument that a particular note is played on. The timbre will tell you if a middle C is being played on a guitar, saxophone, or piano. Our ears also easily hear the relative position of a note. Very few people are actually “tone deaf.” When I say relative position, I am speaking of hearing the note horizontally. We are able to hear as notes gets higher and lower, as if they were written on music staff. The subtle art of perfect pitch deals with hearing the tone color. It doesn’t matter what instrument it is on, it doesn’t matter where the note lies in relation to another, because each note of any octave shares the same tone color.
Having said that, there are only 12 notes that you’ll need to learn. Because they share the same tone color on each octave. Granted, it may become more difficult hearing the really low sounds or the extremely high sounds. Imagine looking at a painting and slowly changing the hues to a grey scale image. It’s the same concept of hearing the extreme highs and lows.
So What Is The Secret?
The secret is to simply develop the subtle ability of hearing inside the note. You will hear that each note has a distinct sound, and it doesn’t have to do with how close they are on they keyboard. An F# and a G have a very different sound. But again, to hear this, you need to listen for the subtle quality. I needs to be practiced.
I will be spending the next week or two continuing to refine my skills. And then, I will explain in more detail exactly what kinds of exercises I have worked on in my efforts to develop perfect pitch.
Ask Questions, Leave Comments
In the meantime, I think it would be great to answer some questions, and get some conversation going on this idea. So please leave your comments or questions below. I am not an expert, but I firmly believe in what I am saying, and I will back up my words by introducing you to the experts who have spent their careers studying this “phenomenon.”