Questions on "Sympath for the Devil"

Thoughts and responses regarding the research at acousticlearning.com.
Vargas
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Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:07 pm

Questions on "Sympath for the Devil"

Postby Vargas » Sat Jul 16, 2005 9:57 pm

Ok, having read through the newest article on acousticlearning.com I found myself having a couple of questions.

and it is our genetic heritage which dictates that these structures be present... or absent. Perhaps, then, it is a genetic ability.

Would this not imply that if genetics are in our favor then we, as adults, would still posess the ability to acquire absolute pitch?

We've known since 1899 that any adult can learn to remember, recognize, and recall musical tones, but there is no proof anywhere of any adult ever gaining absolute pitch as an adult

first, the misconception that tone recognition is in fact absolute pitch ability, and second, the implication that it was the method rather than the subject which was responsible for success.

If an adult can learn to tell notes apart just the same as a child with absolute pitch can then where's the difference if both yield the same results?

The question about teaching adults is therefore a valid one. Is it too late? What if the widespread ability to learn tone recognition can be explained this way: that the necessary absolute-pitch structures are still present in everyone's brain, and can still function in adulthood-- however, it's too late for them to develop

Ok, if someone is quite a late bloomer, per se, would it be possible for someone to develop later than others and in turn be able to learn absolute pitch at a much later age than the normal?

Regarding the process of learning a new language. I've recently started to learn Norwegian. I hadn't thought nearly as in depth about the accent part of learning. I'd just figured that if I pronounced a vowel or a diphthong as though it was English then I was pronouncing it wrong and in turn not really learning the language. I'm not too in depth with the language just yet, but I can sound out pretty much anything I read. I don't necessarily know what I just read, but I know how it sounds.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:03 am

Oh, yes, if genetics are in our favor then we still would possess the ability to acquire absolute pitch. This is what I was implying when I pointed out that nobody seems to be missing anything in their brain. My hypothesis is that absolute pitch is a hyper-normal version of a normal ability. The problem is that adults don't have the same learning plasticity as a youngster.

That's why, for your second question, that's a big IF. Adult brains do not learn sounds the same way as children's do. Check out September 8, 2004 to see what I mean. The same method of absolute-pitch training had radically different results depending on the age group.

This is why I figure that tone recognition and absolute listening aren't the same thing. With tone recognition, a person learns to memorize tones-- but a tone is a collection of multiple characteristics (timbre, volume, intensity, rhythmic position, etc). Absolute listening is the ability to hear and recognize a single characteristic of the tone.

Although the analogy is a bit broad, I might describe it like this: imagine you want to learn the color red. So you are shown a red apple and asked to memorize it. Then you're shown a fire engine and asked, okay, what do you see here? You look for an apple, but you don't see one, so you don't know. Perhaps if they show you cherries and bell peppers you may recognize them as being like an apple-- but ironically, the better you memorize the apple, the less likely you are to identify the cherries and peppers as similar.

That's what I'd say is the fallacy with tone identification. No matter how well you memorize a tone, you put its same pitch characteristic in different contexts and it becomes unrecognizable. The test for absolute pitch ability shouldn't be how many individual tones you can name, but how well you can hear absolute pitch sounds in context. And if adults could be taught to listen that way, then no, there would be no difference between those results and absolute pitch ability. But because people persist in defining absolute pitch as "the ability to name notes", no adult has ever been trained that way.

To your third question-- yes, there are documented studies of people who were autistic, retarded, or possessed of Williams' Syndrome who demonstrated absolute pitch ability later in life. Whether they learned it later in life is not known, but because a disproportionate number of these populations has absolute pitch, the scientists speculate that the "critical period" for learning absolute pitch is extended in these subjects.
Last edited by aruffo on Mon Aug 15, 2005 3:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

Vargas
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Postby Vargas » Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:10 am

Alrighty, thanks. Makes a bit more sense now.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Sun Jul 17, 2005 1:23 pm

Cool.

I also wanted to mention that I appreciate what you were saying about learning Norwegian, and knowing that speaking it correctly is an important part of it-- I approached French the same way, and it drove me bananas that my classmates wouldn't pronounce the words correctly. (Maybe it's made me prejudiced, because I've come to think that people who persist in speaking with an accent, especially if they know they have an accent, are just being lazy!) I suspect that "musical people" have an advantage in realizing the difference in speaking as a native; Alisa wrote to me (also in response to the "sympathy" article):

"I learned Spanish in high school and then later served a mission when I was 21 in Buenos Aires, Argentina for my church. Most missionaries there from the States had a very "gringo" (we said "castellanque") accent. I did not. After not very much time I spoke like an Argentine. I don't speak Spanish very often anymore, so it's a bit stilted, but I still have native Spanish speakers ask if I'm from Argentina. Perhaps it was my singing training, which included singing in French, Italian, German, and caused me to pay very close attention to vowel colors enabled this. At the time, it only seemed to me that I listened to how the people spoke and spoke the same way."

Space
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Location: Cincinnati, OH

language and AP

Postby Space » Tue Mar 17, 2009 3:39 pm

Noticed this thread and wanted to comment because it seemed in line with something I've been thinking.

I found the Pimsleur language courses at the local library here and decided just for the hell of it to get the Latin American Spanish course (mainly because they have the entire 3 unit, 90 lesson course). I've started to think that absolute listening is strongly involved in language aquisition in children. Maybe not absolute pitch per se, but what I'm realizing is that children don't learn words and grammar and then learn to put them together in numerous combinations. They spend a good 10 years learning many entire phrases and full sentences in which specific words are used in many grammatical contexts. Then only once a huge number of these absolute phrases and sentences are learned can one get to the point where one can 'drop' new words in the lexicon of phrases and sentences. A child learns each possible word and phrase combination absolutely.

So, to think that you will learn absolute pitch and then improvise awesome solos by internally cognizing and then producing each note one at a time is completely insane. Great improvisors have a huge library of learned and rehearsed phrases that they mix and match.

In addition, I also don't understand the point of learning a language and speaking it with an accent. To me, I listen to those native speakers on the Pimsleur course and I work on each word and phrase until it sounds just like the speaker. I even recorded myself so I could hear myself in order to make sure I sounded correct. Speaking the language with an accent isn't speaking the language.

john
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Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:38 pm

learning absolute pitch

Postby john » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:43 pm

Hey guys i was wondering if learning absolute is possible. becuase i found a guide on

http://www.musicinstrumentguides.com/Piano-Guides.html

and i was thinking about buying it

Thanks

Stefan
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:29 pm

Re: learning absolute pitch

Postby Stefan » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:12 pm

john wrote:Hey guys i was wondering if learning absolute is possible. becuase i found a guide on

http://www.musicinstrumentguides.com/Piano-Guides.html

and i was thinking about buying it

Thanks


babies are born unable to speak any language, therefore anyone that has it has learned it, so I would say yes it is possible to learn, maybe you will not have as great a sense of pitch as someone who figured it out as a child, but non the less you can enhance your sense of pitch through training.


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