My Long Term Results from APA/ETC

Talk about what you've discovered by using ETC-- and post your high ranks!
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coenobita
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My Long Term Results from APA/ETC

Post by coenobita » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:32 am

I have used ETC for about 8 months. My personal long-term results (only dealing with the absolute pitch area) are:

1. Music in general sounds permanently better and more enjoyable.
2. I can quite easily recall C, G, and A.
3. Strangely, the only pitch that i consistently hear passively and recognize directly is A. (and the key signature of G Major)

Due to fluctuations in my schedule, i had no life when i first got ETC, and was able to power through ave313 on all the APA pitches in the first month+half. Unfortunately, as Chris has pointed out, that's also usually the window of greatest progress in typical ear training. Since then, i've started the game on two other completely different systems, and now only occasionally play.

Nevertheless, i have my own beliefs about how and why my long term results are what they are, and if i am correct, it may suggest an even more effective format for learning AP.

I have seen the most benefit after "marathon" sessions of APA. When i first got the software, i ran the program for up to 6-8 hours for several days, and i would wake up *literally unable* to ignore pitches around me. My footsteps were a pitch. Water had a pitch (i couldn't, and mostly still cannot, name them, but i could not help but try to compare and catalogue the sounds). This only lasted for about 2 weeks, but i can to some extent return to that level of awareness by either playing APA for awhile, or by focusing quite a bit.

I notice that ever since, it does not matter *which* pitch i study in APA... after a certain number of levels, say 30-40 roads, ALL pitches and keys become easier to identify/recall.

My conclusion is that APA has not *directly* taught me any pitches, but has rather been an ingenious tool by which to activate a state of chroma awareness... the real learning, i feel, occurs in the hours and days *after* some intensive APA work, while one is simply listening to environmental sounds. My cell phone beeps an A, for example, as do the checkout counters at Wegmans, and i did not learn this directly from a computer game. At a certain point, i'm not recognizing an A "in" my cell phone tone anymore.... it's more like i'm hearing my cell phone in other places, and knowing it to be an A not because i am "naming pitches" but because i'm hearing "that cell phone-like noise," and i'm pretty sure i am hearing beyond timbre, because at times it feels amazingly direct. Anyhow, that's my story so far... I plan to test a few more "marathon" sessions in the near future... Good Work Chris!

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:31 pm

I'm fascinated to hear you tell this. This is, indeed, exactly what I expect from ETC... not that it will teach pitch categories and pitch names, but should teach a listener how to hear chroma.

Now I need to figure out how to teach categorical perception of a novel stimulus dimension. That's the missing next step...

Nikolaus
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Post by Nikolaus » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:49 am

I would argue that musical literacy needs to be developed first in the adult listener before any sort of absolute listening is even possible, and even then it can be developed in only one timbre at a time. I also disagree with the notion that a good test for genuine categorical perception is whether or not any semitone errors are being made, because I make semitone errors all the time in my harmonic and melodic dictation exercises (using relative pitch). When notes are flying at you at 120 + BPM and you've got only a split second to discern them by ear, whole tone and semitone errors are inevitable (unless of course you've had hundreds of hours of practice).

lorelei
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Post by lorelei » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:21 pm

When notes are flying at you at 120 + BPM and you've got only a split second to discern them by ear, whole tone and semitone errors are inevitable (unless of course you've had hundreds of hours of practice).
I beg to disagree. Of course, most people have this issue, but for many people with AP, this isn't true, since notes can be named instantly. I do agree, though, with the semitone issue, that the test for genuine categorical perception is whether or not semitone errors are made. The AP test of my choosing would be something like a few pieces the subject knows, with some of the pieces transposed. The subject would not be told the pieces were transposed, and would be asked to say if it's in the same key as the original, and if not, name the key. Another test would be to play pieces not known by the subject and ask them to name the key. This would be a more successful test, I think.

Nikolaus
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Post by Nikolaus » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:26 am

you know the funny thing is that I would not be doing these drills if I wasn't making whole tone and semitone errors. These days absolute pitch has become pretty much synonymous musical literacy, so it is no wonder that absolute pitchers don't make any such errors, simply because the possibility of error has been completely swallowed up in hundreds (if not thousands of hours) of practice. Am I saying that it is only sheer volume of practice that separates the average listener from the absolute pitcher? Not necessarily. But what I do find odd is that almost all of the aspirant absolute pitchers out there cannot even dictate the most basic melodies by ear, much less discern all the musical components of a Scarlatti sonata, and yet they think themselves adequately poised to develop perfect pitch using note recognition drills. Truth be told even level 36 on Prolobe is a pretty trivial task next to writing out all the parts of your basic church hymn at quarter speed, and yet people seem completely fixated on the idea that identifying random atonal clusters is gonna give them an "atonal" perception (... if you will) simply because such drills seem to completely ignore tonality. Ironically that's not true however, because all they ever do is develop a sense of tonality -- even when pitches are introduced in a completely atonal fashion everything will still be heard in the context of this or that key center, and if you're good enough (perfect pitcher or relative pitcher) you'll be able to not only pick out those key centers by ear, but also the harmonic placement of those pitches within whatever key center has been established. Eb C Ab G might be heard as scale-degrees 5 3 1 7 in Ab major, and then F# G B Eb might be heard as scale-degrees 7 1 3 b6 in G, but the point is that when dealing with such clusters it is possible for the listener to remain harmonically oriented the entire time. And yet (for those who have not done enough practical training), someone might be able to do this and still not be able to do anything more musically relevant. I can assure you that improvising a good jazz piano solo (at least in your head if you can't play) with complete awareness of pitch and rhythm is much, much more difficult than anything random pitch drills have to offer.

I reread your post and realize I've deviated quite a bit from the topic at hand. Pardon me. Let me put it like this:

if the test for categorical perception is whether or not semitone errors are being made

and if scale-degree recognition is to be thought of as genuine categorical perception (which is the crux of relative pitch)

and if I am making semitone errors at high velocities (confusing B for C or F# for G etc.), then that means that I don't have genuine categorical perception, which is absurd.

now it could be that Aruffo is only referring to absolute categorical perception, which in that case I understand where he is coming from, but if he is referring to any sort of categorical perception (that is if scale-degree recognition is to be thought of as categorical perception), then obviously scale-degree recognition proves to be a rather big exception to the semitone rule. That's all I was trying to say. Or rather, that the semitone rule should be only part of the assessment process.

aruffo
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Post by aruffo » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:03 am

There isn't really a provision for level of accuracy.. just the nature of its perception. The definition of categorical perception is twofold:

Identification will follow a "stepwise" function. That is, as a stimulus changes across a category, it will be distinctly identified as that category, but then once it crosses the categorical boundary it will suddenly and completely shift identity.

Discrimination between similar items will be easier between-categories and more difficult within-category.

TS
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Post by TS » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:08 pm

Nikolaus wrote: and if I am making semitone errors at high velocities (confusing B for C or F# for G etc.), then that means that I don't have genuine categorical perception, which is absurd.
Why do you think this is absurd? Maybe you're simply not perceiving scale degrees categorically in all situations. Maybe there are situations where some other strategy takes over for some reason.

Sometimes when I hear a word in a foreign language the meaning just comes to me, but sometimes it happens that the word sounds familiar but I have to stop for a second and search for the meaning in my mind before I understand. So maybe I'm usually fluent in that language, but every now and then my fluency breaks down and I have to momentarily resort to some other strategy.

Maybe you do have genuine categorical perception in most situations, but under some special conditions you don't.

coenobita
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Practice

Post by coenobita » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:49 pm

Nikolaus makes an interesting point, perhaps meant to be a rhetorical question, when he asks

(is it) "only sheer volume of practice that separates the average listener from the absolute pitcher? Not necessarily."

I would say that the volume of "practice" of a true APer is *exactly* what separates one from the average listener. When one hears in pitch at all times, then simply waking up and hearing ambient noise, a doorbell, or a few piano notes honking through the department store PA may qualify as "practice"...

That's why, while a single-note listening game may seem desperately insufficient to bootstrap one's musicianship to the point of accomplishing complex, practical tasks (unaided composition, fast dictation)..
it is exciting to me that ETC/APA, unlike some other ear-training systems, *can* actually induce a state of "hearing in pitch," which over time, and/or at some critical threshhold, may lead to the type of permanent, unconscious "practice" of chroma-awareness that i believe characterizes an APer's experience.

lorelei
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Post by lorelei » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:28 pm

I would say that the volume of "practice" of a true APer is *exactly* what separates one from the average listener. When one hears in pitch at all times, then simply waking up and hearing ambient noise, a doorbell, or a few piano notes honking through the department store PA may qualify as "practice"...
I had never thought of it this way before, but it is an interesting way of viewing the situation. AP:ers unconsciously practice the ability at all times, but is it really practice though? Would you call the unconscious naming of colors practice? Hard to say.

Sleeper
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Post by Sleeper » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:26 pm

Actually, yes! I think there is good evidence for that. I read this story and it immediately made me think of this place.

Relevant quotes:
When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of other languages may not be required to think about all the time. And since such habits of speech are cultivated from the earliest age, it is only natural that they can settle into habits of mind that go beyond language itself, affecting your experiences, perceptions, associations, feelings, memories and orientation in the world.
We find it useful to use geographic directions when hiking in the open countryside, for example, but the egocentric coordinates completely dominate our speech when we describe small-scale spaces. We don’t say: “When you get out of the elevator, walk south, and then take the second door to the east.” The reason the egocentric system is so dominant in our language is that it feels so much easier and more natural. After all, we always know where “behind” or “in front of” us is. We don’t need a map or a compass to work it out, we just feel it, because the egocentric coordinates are based directly on our own bodies and our immediate visual fields.

But then a remote Australian aboriginal tongue, Guugu Yimithirr, from north Queensland, turned up, and with it came the astounding realization that not all languages conform to what we have always taken as simply “natural.” In fact, Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t make any use of egocentric coordinates at all. The anthropologist John Haviland and later the linguist Stephen Levinson have shown that Guugu Yimithirr does not use words like “left” or “right,” “in front of” or “behind,” to describe the position of objects. Whenever we would use the egocentric system, the Guugu Yimithirr rely on cardinal directions. If they want you to move over on the car seat to make room, they’ll say “move a bit to the east.” To tell you where exactly they left something in your house, they’ll say, “I left it on the southern edge of the western table.” Or they would warn you to “look out for that big ant just north of your foot.” Even when shown a film on television, they gave descriptions of it based on the orientation of the screen. If the television was facing north, and a man on the screen was approaching, they said that he was “coming northward.”
we should look for the possible consequences of what geographic languages oblige their speakers to convey. In particular, we should be on the lookout for what habits of mind might develop because of the necessity of specifying geographic directions all the time.

In order to speak a language like Guugu Yimithirr, you need to know where the cardinal directions are at each and every moment of your waking life. You need to have a compass in your mind that operates all the time, day and night, without lunch breaks or weekends off, since otherwise you would not be able to impart the most basic information or understand what people around you are saying. Indeed, speakers of geographic languages seem to have an almost-superhuman sense of orientation. Regardless of visibility conditions, regardless of whether they are in thick forest or on an open plain, whether outside or indoors or even in caves, whether stationary or moving, they have a spot-on sense of direction. They don’t look at the sun and pause for a moment of calculation before they say, “There’s an ant just north of your foot.” They simply feel where north, south, west and east are, just as people with perfect pitch feel what each note is without having to calculate intervals. There is a wealth of stories about what to us may seem like incredible feats of orientation but for speakers of geographic languages are just a matter of course. One report relates how a speaker of Tzeltal from southern Mexico was blindfolded and spun around more than 20 times in a darkened house. Still blindfolded and dizzy, he pointed without hesitation at the geographic directions.
That seems amazing (to me). But it could be the natural result of constantly "practicing" knowing where the directions are.

lorelei
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Post by lorelei » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:07 pm

Fascinating! I wonder what sorts of things humans would be able to do if they were subconciously taught things...

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