moving through level 3

Comments and questions about Absolute Pitch Painter
aruffo
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moving through level 3

Postby aruffo » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:55 am

I suspect the next thing I write about my own progress won't be on the main page, but on the page that appears when you choose "Strategy and Statistics" under the Help menu (or "Understanding the Statistics" if you have an earlier iteration). Right now that's just a coming-soon page, but I think I now know what needs to go there.

I'm discovering more about how my subjective experience connects with the level-up statistics, and how to use both to recognize where I need improvement, and how to play the game to ensure that improvement. (To that end, I also wrote a new custom-game option so that you can play with only the categories you want to work on.)

The main thing is being able to recognize when a category is weakly developed. Another aspect is realizing (and accepting) that the tones at the category boundaries will always be ambiguous-- you will never not be uncertain about them-- because learning to recognize that ambiguity, and to respond carefully to it, appears to be a critical element of cementing the category boundary.

I was particularly pleased just now when I was able to successfully complete a Jumbo game, and get the required 4000+ points, by using the keyboard only. I managed to stay slow enough to avoid the reflexive errors I tended to make before; I was motivated not to speed up just from the delight of being able to identify the tones so flawlessly.

Again, I find myself noticing the probable limitations of this specific process... it's only the middle octave, I'm probably stuck in C-major, it's piano only, and maybe other elements I haven't yet considered. Heck, I might even be learning categories based on "height". But, as I've said before, the important thing is that I am learning to identify tones categorically. Through its success, I should be able to discover how it's failed, and change the process accordingly.

Of course, to potentially stave off some of those limitations, I also started playing Absolute Pitch Avenue again. I was somewhat dismayed when I discovered that the game introduces both high and low C at the same time. I'm surprised that I didn't realize before now that it'd be better to introduce one and then the other.

Axeman
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APPainter

Postby Axeman » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:00 am

Hey Chris,
Your experience seems to be similar to mine. I am only up to jumbo level one. There does seem to be a feeling associated to each category and the mid category is really tricky. By the categorical centre I take that to mean the boundary between categories? I have the same issues with the keboard shortcuts as you but like it better that way. Speed is a good thing when I am on a roll with it. Sometimes I slow down just to make sure to get the points i need though.

Interestingly form the large level up stats the lower category has a score of a v shape i.e. category centre and cross category are the same height and within is much lower. on the right hand category the category centre and within category are a flat line and the cross category is a little higher.
While playing I get the feeling that I feel the lower category centre better than the other one.
Also, I thought that you were going to be interested in collecting the data from players? Or are you content with your own stats?
I am playing APA again too.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:26 am

Oh, yes, I'm fervently interested in getting data from other players (you'll discover that soon, when you finish Level 1). It'll help me understand how others' experiences and results are different from mine, for one.

From what I know so far, I suspect I'm going to soon write something on the main page about "anchors" and "magnets"... which could offer a possible explanation for the V-shape that you describe. What I believe I've learned by now is that the level-up stats actually do seem to describe my categorical experience. [It's really freakin' annoying that I hear ascending sounds so much worse than descending sounds, and the three-tone level-up procedure doesn't help that at all (darn it), but I've adjusted the stats screen to help me see what's really going on.] That way I can look at the level-up stats and use what I see to verify what I think I'm learning (or, more importantly, what I'm not learning).

Life without keyboard shortcuts would, at the Jumbo level, be intolerable. I'm wondering, though, if they are actually unhelpful at the lower levels. It seems to be a valuable learning strategy to place the ambiguous eggs aside and keep comparing them to the new ones I hear.. keyboard shortcuts encourage completely random listening, because there's no way to come back to an unknown egg with the keyboard.

Angelman
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Postby Angelman » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:35 am

I just downloaded the update (where a custom game can be made) I'm still on level 1 but I think there might've been something changed in the game because I kept encountering an egg that was higher than another and yet it is marked as a blue category and the other one was the rainbow category.

It is just these two eggs that have this weird glitch. It's happened on my Large game twice now.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:48 am

Unfortunately, that's not a programming error. I wish it were so I could fix it. I keep encountering it myself. Realbasic plays MP3 files by creating temporary MP3s in your temp directory, and for some inexplicable reason it sometimes uses an already-created temp file instead of generating the correct one. It's maddening that it should do so, but, fortunately, all the temp files are deleted when you quit the program. So when you discover that problem, quit and restart the game and the erroneous sound will reset itself to the correct tone. I know that that's not a good solution, but it is indeed the solution for now.

Angelman
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Postby Angelman » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:35 pm

My experience has been a strange one. As I increased in game size, I got better and better at distinguishing which notes belonged in which category but in the level-up screen, I dunno if I was trying too hard or what but sometimes I would hear what I felt was a change in pitch in the 2 eggs even though it sounded like such a minute change.
Sometimes I answered as different and sometimes I would hesitate too long and mark it as same. I dunno how this would affect the level-up stats and looking at the charts, I dunno what to make of it.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:15 am

I still don't know exactly what I'll write on the Strategies & Stats screen, but the most important thing to know is the core effect of categorical perception:

- same-category sounds start to sound more similar to each other, and
- cross-category sounds start to sound more different from each other.

The level-up procedure is the best way we know to evaluate whether this is the case... however, it's complicated by the fact that when sounds are moving toward a category center, it's harder to hear changes than when the sounds are moving away. It's further complicated by the fact that different people are differently able to perceive fine differences. So it's not a perfect measure, but we can learn certain things from it if we accommodate those known issues.

I've completed level 3, myself, just now. As I'm playing, it becomes pretty obvious to me when I have a strong or a weak sense of a category-- it depends on how good I am at recognizing when tones are ambiguous. I mean, it may sound a bit peculiar, but it is a positive development to hear a tone and say to oneself, "I definitely do not know which category that belongs to, but it goes between category X and category Y." This is fundamentally different from saying to oneself, "I'm not sure if that one belongs to category X or category Y." The latter statement says that your brain has a weak grasp of the categories, and you can't recognize the tone. The former statement says that your brain has a strong grasp of the categories, and the tone is a weak representative of its category.

abminor
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Postby abminor » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:37 pm

Hello,

I've started playing level 2. The experience if very interesting I think. Maybe because the note span is reduced compared to level 1 (I mean the lower category is still displayed but until now I heard no notes belonging to it), I hear more frequently some kind of descending chromatic lines. I can clearly hear a shift in category occurring at some point within theses lines. This is definitely something new to me.

At the beginning of level 2, I was wondering if i was learning scale degrees category because my initial strategy was to use them to find the egg category. I've noticed however that while it can help, it s not very reliable. Plus it requires me to mentally compute the scale degree from what I currently heat as the tonic (to select the tonic I just have to choose one of the two categories center, it works because it appears more frequently).

I eventually dropped this strategy and now just proceed by instinct. Although I still hear some kind of movement in a scale I don't use it anymore. So there is some kind of crossing between relative pitch and something else that may be absolute pitch.

If i had to compare the sensation enabling me to know the category I would have to say some kind of color really. Sometimes my logic tells me that a tone should belong to the upper category because for example, there have been several ascending tones in a row starting from the lowest one, however my gut feeling tells me the contrary. First I was following my logic and this caused many mistakes. I Have since learned to follow my gut feeling which seem to be always right so far. It tells me this is like a color blend between the two categories but one color dominates, so I select the appropriate category based of that.

Chris have you done something to vary timbre? Sometimes for few tones i hear the timbre change like a different midi sound bank . It is still a piano sound but different. Or is that a bug on my mac ? If it is, it's strange I did not notice it in level 1.

abminor
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Postby abminor » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:08 pm

Hum,

this is odd, I systematically hear the note C has having a different timbre. Is that my ear or is there really a timbre change ? I was not sure which note it was until I used an electronic tuner to check. Seems to be always C. why C ? it seems to be the lowest tone of the red-yellow category so is that because it is the boundary between this category and the blue-grey one ?

Maybe for level 1 my brain memorized a reference note to act as a boundary between the categories instead of memorizing the categories themselves.

Angelman
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Postby Angelman » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:45 pm

I'm on a PC and I hear those "timbre" changes too. I've learned to discard this because I've been wrong whenever I hear the tone and automatically think "oh a different category."

My experience so far is that I really must exercise patience. I played the level 2 small game almost 30 times before getting the level up and the medium game took about 20 playthroughs. On the large game, I still haven't hit the target score and I feel like maybe I haven't really learned anything.

Except I just now played a medium game for the fun of it and perhaps because I wasn't putting any pressure on myself, I easily achieved a score of over 1000 on my first try. This confirms to me that perhaps these categories are sticking in my mind and I just need to continue to practice patiently.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:54 pm

The tones are all from the same MIDI instrument. I'd love to think that the apparent "timbre" change is actually a chroma change, but I wouldn't want to be too optimistic. It seems possible, now that I think about it, that what you're detecting might be the mistuning of a note (mistuned, that is, from whatever the standard equal-tempered sound would be).

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:04 pm

It tells me this is like a color blend between the two categories but one color dominates, so I select the appropriate category based of that.


I've been having the same experience. Right now I'm on level 4. I've been using that phenomenon as a way to figure out tones that I'm not sure of. I take a guess at what the tone might be, but I don't color the egg, I just put it above that color. Then when I hear a tone that I know for certain is that color, I play the unknown egg, and I can (usually) hear whether the unknown egg's tone shares the definitive quality of that category.

Again, I still don't know for sure whether the definitive quality corresponds to chroma, or scale degree, or piano timbre, or even height.. but if I (continue to) learn to identify the qualities of each category then I'll be only too happy to adjust the process to learn them more specifically.

EvilBlade
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Postby EvilBlade » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:03 pm

Hi all folks! :D

I'm going to report here an email that I originally sent to Chris after having completed the second level, containing some considerations I made on my playing experience.

First of all, I felt a lot reassured about what you wrote on the forums and on the main page about the way you play the game, especially that you rely on other tones that are more representative of a category to decide where to assign the cross-category ones, because I was somehow afraid to cheat.

Another really important thing on which I agree, is that with the keyboard you end up playing the game too fast. This became of big concern to me, and it made me suspect that my sense of relative pitch was interfering with my playing.
I'm a musician also, I play guitar in an heavy metal band and this is like a second-work. Being involved in ear-training for some years by now, by using initially Burge's course and then (luckily :D) your Chordhopper, Interval Loader and APA, made me develop a good sense of hearing, especially my relative pitch.
I have played APA extensively for all the 12 tones, and I can confirm that it somehow "fixed" the notes in my mind, but without being able to identify them. Some hot-spots I now recognize as familiar inside the categories I'm playing with.

At the start of the Level 2 - large game, where the bottom-category was re-introduced, I started to think that the intervals between the tones(especially the minor third between Eb and F#, the mellow-twangy thing of Burge), were somehow "obfuscating" my judgement of the sound quality, or color, inducing me to assign the tones to the wrong category, because that felt "distant-enough". That was not a fully-concious thing.
So, everytime I heard a familiar interval, I noticed that the sound quality of the tone was not clear to me like other cases, and that it needed a second listening. By giving another listen, I was able to confirm that that tone belonged to a certain category and correctly assign it.
It is like I'm trying to pay more attention to the sound itself by playing slower and more reflectively. By using this approach, on the last round of the Jumbo game I played, I did noticeably better resulting in a higher score, and being more satisfied of my progress.

My level-up graphs are changed too, now they have an A shape instead of a V shape. I won't try to describe them right now, but I'm curious to see the results I'll get on the next level with my "corrected" playing style.

And there's the final point: I must admit that I feel a little silly by saying this but, the level up procedure continues to be difficult to me. I think that the main reason to it, is that I have such a big wish to achieve good results, that it ends influencing me.
I will explain the best as I can: (bad english kicks in D: )
There are eggs that sound obviously the same, eggs that sound obviously different, and eggs in between, that I cannot convincingly decide if they're same or different.
By encountering that third type of pairs, I'm costantly thinking that I may have done wrong with the previous eggs, making me try to correct a judgement that maybe, in fact, doesn't really need to be corrected. I'm constantly asking myself if I'm listening correctly or not, and I'm afraid to not being able to judge objectively.

I also noticed during this last level-up procedure, that I may have been influenced by the fact that I was able to tell where these tones belonged in the category-spectrum, if they were of the bottom-category, at the border with the middle category, the middle one, the border with the middle and the high category, or the high category. So, since I cannot "un-see" what I already noticed, maybe I chose SAME or DIFFERENT aided by this fact.

aruffo
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Postby aruffo » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:14 pm

And here's what I wrote in reply to that--!


It's really interesting that you, and I, and they, all seem to have the same experience. When we intellectually decide that a sound must be "distant enough" to go in a certain category, we're almost always wrong, but when we take the time to listen to the sound quality, we usually get it right. I like the fact that this game encourages us all to pay attention to the chroma instead of the interval. Admittedly, the "chroma" we are hearing still could be the scale degree, or even something to do with the timbre, but the fact is we're all still being forced to listen for it, and we are successfully hearing it.

The level-up procedure is difficult. It's designed to be difficult. In fact, I adjusted it to be more difficult based on the results you sent me before! The reason why the level-up procedure is important is not because you're supposed to get everything right. Not at all. The important thing, in fact, is which ones you get wrong. If you're developing categorical perception, then you should find it difficult to hear any changes at the center of a category, but easier to detect changes near the edge of a category. In that case, getting it wrong, near the center, is a good thing! So don't stress or worry about doing "well" or "poorly" during the level-up procedure. It's a diagnostic tool, to let you know how your categorical perception is coming along. It is not a test of skill to find out whether you can detect all the differences!


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