Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Long Island, NY
I'll stick my two cents in here...
I started playing piano when I was about 2 & a half years old. *I've got perfect pitch. *I found out i had it at about 7 years old. *To me, perfect pitch is being able to not only identify a note, but also to produce the pitch on command without any point of reference.
I've known a lot of people with perfect pitch and many others with very good relative pitch. *I believe that those born without it are capable, with enough training, of achieving very very good relative pitch, but it will never be perfect pitch, per se. *
I spent the better part of my formative years playing the 'what note is this' game - like a freak show - in school. *I thought I was this hot sh!t guy and this was really what it was all about. *I found out in college that it's not. *
After a while, around age 17, i stopped telling people that i had it, mostly because I had grown tired of the 'game'. *Once I got to Berklee, I met a guy who didn't have PP, but very good RP (he's now the keyboard player in keneally's band, by the way). *His attitude was - So you've perfect pitch, so what? *You've got this amazing gift, but what do you do with it?
That inspired me to take every single eartraining class that Berklee offered, from Rhythmic ET (incredibly useful to transcribing) to Performance Ear training (involves hearing a sequence of notes and playing them back note for note) to Harmoinc Ear Training (hearing chords and their tonalities without having to break them down note-by-note...this was the most useful one of all).
To this day, I still don't divulge to many people that I have it - I just keep it as my little 'ace-in-the-hole' on gigs. *When people do find out, their feelings are usually hateful (another reason i don't tell people). *To those who don't have it I always explain that I don't know what it's like NOT to have it...and it's completely beyond me how anyone can live without it. *
And to those that i meet that DO have it, but are very content to play the 'what note is this' game, I try to open their ears the same way that guy at berklee opened mine...it's not enough to have a gift - it needs to be developed to open up a whole new world.
Which isn't to say it doesn't have its drawbacks. *I can't play a guitar that's tuned down to Eb. *If the E isn't where I'm used to it being, I'm screwed. *I only recently started to be able to play wtih a capo for the same reason. *Fortunately, capo songs are usually all open chords - if i learn it in positions, rather than chords and don't think about it at all while i'm playing, I'm fine. *The minute i start to think, I'm dead.
I've always been lazy reading printed music because my ear inevitably takes over. *My knowledge of theory isn't great either - I took all the classes and I know the stuff on paper, but when it comes to applying it in playing, i just can't think that fast. *I can't teach...I can play really well, but i don't know why I play how I play. *With most musicians, it goes from ear to brain to hands. *With me, it goes straight from ears to hands. *A lot of times when I'm writing a song, or even reharmonizing a jazz tune, I'll have to stop and figure out what I just did - even if it's a change I've been playing for 6 months. *It just sorta happens. *I wish I could explain it, but I can't. *The other reason I can't teach is that PP has left me with no patience. *If I'm trying to show somebody something and they're just not getting it in 2 seconds I get very flustered. *
I know you're probably sitting there saying 'yeah yeah, poor baby, SHUT UP!" :bash:
to address a few of the other posts, most experienced guitar players can produce an A or an E. *It's the nature of the instrument. *It doesn't surprise me that Vai can do it. *The bass player in one of my bands doesn't have PP, but he can hear where a song is going every easily...his RP is totally moded to "rock & roll" by led zeppelin. *That's his "A". *Cracked me up when i heard it, but it works for him.
It’s the same as playing an instrument… I'm a firm believer in the 'either you've got it or you don't' theory. *I know guys who've been playing for 14 years and just can't get thru that threshold of “passable”. *Others i know have only been playing for a couple of years and can burn the crap out anything. *It will come easier to some than others.
Can David Burge help you? *I really don't know. *i know if I could put it into words I'd probably try to sell it too. *If it's so amazing, why is it still advertised in the back of magazines and not a course at every major music college in the world?
As for now, for me, it's just something that i have that's very special to others, but isn't something i worked to get. *I'm proud, however, that I got beyond that initial point and developed it beyond what's on the surface.
If you go to google.com and put in 'perfect pitch study', there's a LOT of resources and research studies to read about.
I'll be happy to talk to anyone about this inside or outside the forum. *Just don't say "What note is this?....Dinnnnnggggg"