Switching keys up?

Comments and questions about AP Avenue.
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:54 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Switching keys up?

Postby Space » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:45 pm

This is something I sent to Chris personally and he suggested I throw it on the message board, so here it is:

I've been studying RP along with AP off and on and with different methods for 12 years now and as far as my RP training goes, I've been using solfege for maybe the past 7 or so of them. I've learned to hear all 12 pitches against a key center and this has made me aware of something that happens when training with APA. I believe that this probably happens with most people when playing the game. If you are playing with just one note, say C, after a while you simply begin to hear that pitch as the 'tonic', even if unconsciously (that is, if you don't have trained RP).

Point being that after you reach the end of one pitch, which is somewhere in the 300's, even though the examples have become more complicated in terms of intervals and rhythms (adding random timbres helps to change things up as well), one may still be able to identify the pitch simply by it's feel as the 'tonic'. It seems to me that it would be beneficial to introduce further levels of each single pitch where effort is made (either at the beginning of each avenue, or maybe even before each egg is sounded) by maybe having an instrument play a key setting progression (I IV V I, ii V I, that kind of thing) in random timbres to throw that key sense off balance.

Possibly it could be a thing where after the most difficult level of a pitch (if I recall, last time I reached the 'end' of the red egg, the program would glitch at the beginning of the 312th venue), you start over at the beginning automatically with random timbres and begin by adding key establishing progressions before each avenue (or egg maybe). You could add the different keys maybe in order of which degrees are progressively harder to hear. For example in the key of G, C is the IV which is easier to hear than if it were the key of B where it's the bII. Maybe every 10 avenues a new key center is introduced and randomly thrown in with the rest so by the 120th avenue (2nd time around, that is), the process is something like this:

Click on an egg
I-IV-V-I in a random key (or maybe ii-V-I as well in major or minor) plays
Then the actual example plays.

The combination of random keys, random timbres, and the crazy melodies and rhythms you've already woven into the game should render most all 'other' method but pure chroma perception useless in identifying the pitch.

I just feel like the tonal function of a pitch is just as obscuring of chroma, maybe even more so, than any other factor. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why it is difficult for AP demonstrated while playing a game like APA to transfer into functional musical experience.

Not sure if that all makes sense to you or if it even seems a worthwhile upgrade but it's just something I've been thinking about for a few years actually.


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Postby Nikolaus » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:43 pm

APA can train the ear up to a point, but ultimately the problem here is that so long as one is merely dealing with single pitches, then one will ONLY require perceptual differentiation to pass the levels, and this does not do enough to develop a truly functional AP or RP. and moreover, even if one does decide to implement random cadences into their training, it is still easy enough to recognize the target pitch using either MTs or perceptual differentiation.

Posts: 177
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:54 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH


Postby Space » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:46 pm

Well, yes, APA alone will not do enough. But I'm simply talking about adding that one extra feature which I do believe will help to bring out the absolute sense of the pitch more. When I first tried both APB and then APA, I felt that the basic premise of the way the pitch is present in increasingly more dense chords and melodic figures was incredibly helpful in isolating the pitch. Then, with the random timbres feature, there is another 'layer' stripped away from that which obscures the absoluteness of the pitch.

That then gave me the idea of introducing random keys. Finding a way to shake up the tendency for the human mind to isolate the target pitch in such a way that after a while it begins to take on a kind of permanent character of the tonic. This weakens one's ability to identify the pitch in any context except when it is the tonic or keynote. Once the pitch is heard as any other scale degree within ANOTHER key, it becomes unrecognizable.

I know I'm basing this almost entirely on my own personal experience, but I really believe that the 'key' factor is a HUGE hindrance in the development of AP.

Now of course from there, it will be necessary to move on to identifying pitches in the 'traditional' way that guys like Burge recommend - single notes, and 2, 3, and 4 note chords and beyond. Really, I think that the most advanced ears capable of deciphering complex jazz and atonal harmonies would need to be able to unlock and decipher 6 note chords in both AP and RP terms. But then, maybe my standards are just a little extreme. Ha.

Currently, my own method is too work the "Cuddy" method with all 12 pitches. I know no other method that will really accomplish what I'm wanting to accomplish here. I recently finished the note C and am moving on to G now. I'm gonna learn them in the order they appear in APA.

Basically what I'm saying is that I work through APA while also using Pitch Player which allows me to do single notes, 2 and 3 note chords.


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