Less Avenues to test all pitch levels sooner

Comments and questions about AP Avenue.
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Stefan
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Less Avenues to test all pitch levels sooner

Post by Stefan » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:07 pm

Hi, I was just wondering the reasons for making it 120 avenues before going on to the next pitch trigger, have you ever experimented with less avenues for each pitch level so you can get to all pitches sooner, for me 50 is plenty of practice on one pitch and getting to 120 is just boring and tiresome, ever tried to see if doing less avenues per pitch level could be more effective?, ive been using the pitch paths course and its very simple, but it seems quite effective because you can go from pitch level to pitch level whenever you want getting a more solid foundation of melody triggers across the chromatic scale faster than APA. IMO I think it would help if you could choose the amount of avenues per pitch level like maybe 50 instead of 120 so you could work on multiply pitch levels sooner, thats one of the main reasons I dont use APA at the moment, it just takes too long to get through each pitch level and on to the next, but idk haha...

Kayd
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Post by Kayd » Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:10 pm

I've definitely noticed that the largest roadblock to progress is throwing too much at my ear so it can't make sense of anything. I would suspect the 120 avenue limits is to ensure you have clearly cemented the identity of one pitch before "confusing" your ear with more pitches. The real question in my mind is what will get you to the level of "mastery" faster trying to learn them all at once, or mastering one then moving to the next one.

Stefan
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Post by Stefan » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:40 pm

I do not have that issue, I hear the chroma the same no matter what timbre or what avenue i am on.

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:13 am

Kayd's comment is exactly the reason why. When changing from APB to APA I had the idea that APB made you wait waaaaay too long for each pitch, and why not try them all at once to start, but quickly discovered what Kayd describes.

TS
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Re: Less Avenues to test all pitch levels sooner

Post by TS » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:07 am

Here's a quick calculation:
To pass one avenue you need to get 6 chicks across. Assume you need 30 seconds to colour five eggs, so passing one avenue takes 6*30 seconds, which is 3 minutes. Passing 120 avenues takes 120*3 minutes, which is 6 hours. Passing 120 avenues may seem to take forever, but it isn't that much after all, when you put it into perspective.

I've found that I can pass 10 avenues in about 15-20 minutes, a speed at which completing 120 avenues would take 3-4 hours.

I've also found that I can sometimes pick out G while playing the C levels. It helps that the C-melodyword contains a G, so in a way I can practice two pitches at the same time.

Space
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Post by Space » Sun May 17, 2009 11:46 pm

I'm sure I've got to 120ave in less than 2 hrs. Maybe even less than 1 1/2 (using the keyboard shortcuts of course). I think this should be a goal for anybody using the game. I would start from the beginning every time until you can get to 120th ave in one sitting (on random timbres with all timbres selected) - meaning you can get to 120th ave before you're on the verge of blowing your brains out from the boredom :p

The interesting thing to me is, at least in my experience, once you can do this with one note you can do it with all of them. I could, if I wanted, go through and unlock all 12 notes in 12 days by choosing only the new note and breezing through the 120 levels till the next note unlocks. But that would sort of defeat the purpose. The real challenge comes with the random note feature. I think the random note feature encourages development of aural recall. I have to think the note I'm listening for before I go through the eggs. I've also been using the melody words lately with some reasonable success.

Also, and maybe this should be a separate post, I've noticed that I have come across a fair number of examples with C where I am 110 percent sure there is a C in the chord/melody but the game says there is not.

Space

Kayd
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Post by Kayd » Tue May 19, 2009 7:13 pm

I don't know what the levels beyond 200 are like, but I would assume chords get denser and melodies more difficult. If so, then I think there's value in challenging your ear to pick out the note from denser chords. If you always start from level one the time investment might prohibit you from getting into levels over 200, where you seem to be headed.

It might be nice to occasionally start from level 1, particularly if you're having a bad day :) But, I think if I did that I'd spend most of my time hammering through levels which aren't a big challenge.

I have had instances where I could swear I heard the note, but APA says no. I wonder if it's possible that your hearing the C as a "phantom note", as the beat frequency generated by two other notes.

Space
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Post by Space » Wed May 20, 2009 12:41 pm

Oh, I meant just being able to get to level 120 on any particular note in one sitting. That can be done in less than 2 hrs. I just feel that after that, even though further levels do get a but more challenging it's really not much different. Maybe if you end up with dense tone clusters with a lot of half steps involved, that would be quite a few notches up in difficulty. I guess we'll have to see if it gets that challenging. I've just noticed that one note is one note. Once you have the target pitch securely in your mind, it's pretty smooth sailing through the game - unless you're on random notes.

Another thing I've considered is only working on one note at a time but doing it this way: just play for 15 mins at the beginning of every hour you're awake - or as many hours as you possibly can (work tends to get in the way for most people including myself - just WISH I could do it that way!). And if you want to watch a particular tv show or something, just play during the commercials. The idea is to keep the note in your short term memory until it transfers to long term.

Regardless of what anybody says about AP aquisition I really feel that it is as much a memory game as anything else. The perception of chroma may not even appear until you ALREADY have the note memorized. That's how it has been in some cases with me.

Space

Space
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Post by Space » Wed May 20, 2009 1:54 pm

Ok, so I just put my money where my mouth is and ran through the first 120 avenues of C (with random timbres, all timbres selected) and it took me 55 mins (1:50 - 2:45 PM eastern time :op). It was a bit mentally draining and I got slightly slower toward the end. Along the way I made lots of stupid keystroke errors with the shortcuts because I was being really hasty. If you could keep your wits about you and not tire you could probably do it a bit faster.

Oh, and I forgot to reply to the 'phantom C' possibility. I definitely occasionally hear phantom notes as a result of the harmonics but in the cases I mentioned I tried listening to it with different timbres and I was able to hear and transcribe in my mind every note in the chord. There was definitely a C. I'll keep playing and maybe if I hear some more I'll actually write them down.

Space

Kayd
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Post by Kayd » Wed May 20, 2009 7:17 pm

Space wrote: Another thing I've considered is only working on one note at a time but doing it this way: just play for 15 mins at the beginning of every hour you're awake - or as many hours as you possibly can (work tends to get in the way for most people including myself - just WISH I could do it that way!). And if you want to watch a particular tv show or something, just play during the commercials. The idea is to keep the note in your short term memory until it transfers to long term.
Space
I suspect that might be more effective than submerging yourself in it for extended lengths of time. I can't base this on anything other than my impression that after a certain amount of practice in one sitting I'm just spinning my wheels. I usually do 10-15 minutes when I get up, I try, though not very successfully to do another 10 minutes when I get home from work, and then later in the evening I'll spend a chunk of time on it, a half hour to an hour typically. I think the law of diminishing returns comes into play in the extended period of playing APA, so I don't know how much it is really helping. I might make progress nearly as fast if I only ever spent 15 minutes at a time. However, I know if I did it while I was watching TV I'd drive my wife nuts and she'd have to shoot me (where are those headphones).

I'm thinking of integrating your suggestion into my practice. If I have a day where it's just really hard to hear the C I may drop back to level 1 and work my way up again. I think that may be more productive than banging my head against the wall at high levels or searching for some level where I can hear it. It shouldn't be that hard to get back to level 87 or wherever I happen to be that day. And, if it takes a couple session to get there it wouldn't really bother me anyway.
Space wrote: Regardless of what anybody says about AP aquisition I really feel that it is as much a memory game as anything else. The perception of chroma may not even appear until you ALREADY have the note memorized. That's how it has been in some cases with me.
Space
Maybe the missing link is the categorization that Chris has referred to. For most people reading is automatic and mindless. If you see a word it doesn't take any effort to recognize the word or even the letters in the word, you just see them and know what they are. Is it possible that AP is still a memory game for you because at some level the mental processing of the chroma and assigning it the correct category hasn't become automatic yet. When it does you will just hear and know.

To some degree too it may be familiarity. I know my biggest hurdle with learning intervals now is that for some intervals I still have to think about what I'm hearing. I have faith that with lots of practice over a period of time it will become more and more familiar, until eventually there will come a time when I just hear and know.

Space
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Post by Space » Thu May 21, 2009 12:09 am

Well, to me, memory is just the process of a particular neural pathway getting to a point where it is strong enough that it can be activated relatively effortlessly.

In my case a fair degree of these pathways to various pitches, relationships, tonal contexts, etc. have become well established. They are quite effortless and very much a part of my everyday experience. Just like driving or riding a bike which are both a process of internalizing certain neural processes until they become '2nd nature'. Only I often feel like the experience of AP is like 1st nature. Even though I didn't have any experience with it until I was 18 or 19, I now wonder how I existed without it :p

Space

Space
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Post by Space » Thu May 21, 2009 12:19 am

I was thinking one could break up the thing in chunks. You could start from the beginning everytime until you can breeze through to 20th ave in maybe 15mins, assuming you have an easy time with the keyboard shortcuts. Maybe 20 mins with a mouse.

Like play from the beginning for 15 mins at a time until you can get to 20th ave in that 15 mins. Then go from 20th to 40th working the same way. The point is to be at a level where you're twiddling your proverbial thumbs while doing it because it's so easy.
Robert's Pace

Kayd
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Post by Kayd » Fri May 22, 2009 6:11 pm

Based on what I notice happening to my ear, I suspect there are two or more things I'm improving at when I play APA. One is I'm getting better at hearing into chords to pick out individual notes. My impression is reinforced by a marked improvement in hearing what is going on in music I listen too. Every month I notice how much easier it is to hear details of how each instrument sounds in a mix. The other thing I'm improving at is hearing sounds that I recognize as C. The problem is I have several strategies I use to recognize that C.

Once strategy is to listen for a timbre like quality that is different between C and other notes. For the lack of a better word it sounds dullish or muted compared to other notes. The problem is I use other strategies as well. If I can hear the C I can just listen for something that sounds like the last note of the melody trigger. In many cases I can make that comparison much faster than I can listen for a timbre like quality. I can play the melody trigger, make a mental snapshot and listen for that or something that is an octave interval of that. I can even keep that in my head for some time so I can actually make progress even without listening for the quality of the sound.

The rub is that the better I can hear the notes in a chord the easier it is to avoid listening for that C quality of the sound and just listen for the note. If I listen for that C like quality I can hear it color the chord even when I can't make out the individual notes. This would lead me to question the value of staying in a zone where the game is too easy. I suspect (again with no evidence to back it up) that, at least for me, it is an essential part of the learning process to challenge my ear with denser chords. Not just because learning to hear more deeply into music has value in and of itself, but because by doing so I'm forcing myself to use the strategy of listening for the C like quality of the chord rather than falling back on some other strategy.

BTW this is also why I'm currently not using multiple instruments (though I have turned them on from time to time). I find it easier with one instrument to hear that C quality. Because it sound a bit like timbre to me using multiple instruments where the timbre is constantly changing obscures that C like quality, and I find myself more readily falling back on other strategies for hearing the C.

Now perhaps I'd learn to recognize that C quality more easily if I did turn on multiple instruments and stayed in that zone longer. Making it harder to hear might force my ear to discriminate better. I'd be curious to hear your opinion or your experiences when you were first beginning to try to develop absolute pitch.

Space
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Post by Space » Sun May 24, 2009 3:36 am

"Based on what I notice happening to my ear, I suspect there are two or more things I'm improving at when I play APA. One is I'm getting better at hearing into chords to pick out individual notes. My impression is reinforced by a marked improvement in hearing what is going on in music I listen too. Every month I notice how much easier it is to hear details of how each instrument sounds in a mix. The other thing I'm improving at is hearing sounds that I recognize as C."

Sounds great. Good to hear about all the progress. APA is great for training your ear to focus in on individual pitches within chords. This crosses over to your music listening experience as a new kind of definition to everything. Even if you can't identify everything you're hearing there's just this overall sense of refinement to the way you're hearing. As for hearing Cs here and there that's great and it'll only get better and more common.


"The problem is I have several strategies I use to recognize that C. Once strategy is to listen for a timbre like quality that is different between C and other notes.For the lack of a better word it sounds dullish or muted."

With most timbres on the midi synthesizer each pitch is like a timbre within a timbre, especially with piano. What's more confusing still for me is that the experience of pitch chroma itself is similar to the experience of timbre. This is why it's necessary to eventually get to playing with random timbres. You gotta free yourself from the attachment to a particular chroma in a particular timbre. When playing on random timbres with all timbres selected you get a chance to experience the different timbres shifting around while the pitch remains the same. While playing this way just contemplate that. In spite of the changing timbres the pitch stays the same and at least some part of it continues to sound the same. What is that? How would you describe that sameness?

"The problem is I use other strategies as well. If I can hear the C I can just listen for something that sounds like the last note of the melody trigger. In many cases I can make that comparison much faster than I can listen for a timbre like quality."

My guess is that what you are hearing in this case is the sound of C as the tonic. The melody trigger for C in APA puts C as the tonality and when the phrase ends on C that C has the sense of finality of the 1st degree of the scale. Over time, you will probably realize that as you play the game (still with just C, of course) the repitition of C causes your ear to remain primarily in the key of C. Each time you hear the C it's as if you are 'arriving' back home.

"I can play the melody trigger, make a mental snapshot and listen for that or something that is an octave interval of that. I can even keep that in my head for some time so I can actually make progress even without listening for the quality of the sound."

You're hearing the quality of the sound (the pitch chroma) even if you aren't fully conscious of what it is yet. What you're doing here is maintaining the pitch in your short-term memory so you can reference that instead of the melody trigger - though with one timbre and one pitch the chroma is still tangled up with tonal and timbral cues. Still, eventually that constant maintanence of the pitch in your short term memory will move the experience to long term.


"The rub is that the better I can hear the notes in a chord the easier it is to avoid listening for that C quality of the sound and just listen for the note. If I listen for that C like quality I can hear it color the chord even when I can't make out the individual notes. This would lead me to question the value of staying in a zone where the game is too easy."

I think the phenomenon of the target pitch 'coloring' the chord in spite of not being able to 'unlock' (to use a DL Burge term :P) the chord is one of the unique beauties of APA (and APB before it). Once again, IMO, it's all about the short-term to long-term memory process.

As far as the strategy I was recommending I was just encouraging you to go for mastery before moving on. I don't think APA holds you to a percentage of accuracy so I was trying to think of ways to put something like that in there. It's definitely important to keep pushing forward and challenging yourself. As soon as something is reasonably mastered you've got to move on immediately to the next thing and not get stuck.

"I suspect (again with no evidence to back it up) that, at least for me, it is an essential part of the learning process to challenge my ear with denser chords. Not just because learning to hear more deeply into music has value in and of itself, but because by doing so I'm forcing myself to use the strategy of listening for the C like quality of the chord rather than falling back on some other strategy. BTW this is also why I'm currently not using multiple instruments (though I have turned them on from time to time). I find it easier with one instrument to hear that C quality. Because it sound a bit like timbre to me using multiple instruments where the timbre is constantly changing obscures that C like quality, and I find myself more readily falling back on other strategies for hearing the C. Now perhaps I'd learn to recognize that C quality more easily if I did turn on multiple instruments and stayed in that zone longer. Making it harder to hear might force my ear to discriminate better. I'd be curious to hear your opinion or your experiences when you were first beginning to try to develop absolute pitch."

Like I said before, the goal is to eventually be practicing with all timbres randomly all the time. You want to be free of the distraction of timbre and tonality and able to focus on that elusive quality that remains the same even when the timbral and tonal contexts are shifting around.

I'll have to talk about my own experiences here soon. I gotta get goin!

Hope some of this helps...

Rob

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