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Does Williams have perfect pitch?


FossMan
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Let me tell you all something...perfect pitch is not a gift...it's a horrible horrible thing!!

I think Satan decided that people liked music too much so he was going to send up a little package to some people that would forever ruin their lives! Ahhh! I shudder thinking about it!

Lol...sorry if that seems a bit excentric...I guess I'm in a weird mood.

But...let me tell ya...never again will I be able to go to a performance without cringing at least once or twice during a song...shattering my concentration on the piece...even the boston symphony...or the london symphony.

After I developed my perfect pitch...every time I hear an elevator beep...or a phone ring...I instantly start analyzing it in my brain. It's not fun...although an amusing party trick.

Either way...I HATE perfect pitch...just like cypher in The Matrix...ignorance is bliss. The bad tends to outweigh the good.

Enough "ranting" for now. :)

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Perfect pitch is NOT a curse .... at least for me.

I don't know if I developed it from years and years of piano and strings (I'm 17, been playing piano since I was 5, viola since I was 11), or if I was born with it, but it really is a blessing.

I think it's cool to hear an elevator beep, or the sound of an electronic appliance (tea kettle, vacuum cleaner hum, etc.), and random backround music (video game music, Windows start-up music, etc.) and all that stuff.

Then again, I'm a composer, going to NCSA (North Carolina School of the Arts) next year, my senior year, to finish high school, studying music composition, and I plan on being a film composer after college.

Maybe that's why I feel differently about it, but whatever .... I'm very thankful for my gift.

God bless,

Alex

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I'm not sure how this connects to the discussion but I recall an interview with JW years ago where this subject was brought up in a different manner. JW was saying one of the reasons synthesizers will never replace an orchestra is that we don't want to hear perfect pitch. There's something in an orchestra's striving for it but not quite getting it or its sliding into the right pitch. I guess that's one of the reasons a violin sounds so wrong on a synthesizer. I think his conlusion was that he didn't have perfect pitch and its a good thing he didn't because we're not really meant to listen to music that way. That's how I remember it.

- Adam

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i don't believe you develop perfect pitch. i believe it is something you are born with, or else you don't really have it. . .it is just muscle memory (vocal) and really good aural memory.

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I think some people over here are talking about different perfect pitches...

As to the gift to recognize the tonality and just the pitch of notes from your mind I'm still not sure if I have it. I can (relatively easily) name random notes I hear, but I cannot determine the tonality of a piece in the middle of it playing; I have to hear the tonica, then I can.

I think indeed it has to do with aural memory since I use a 'violin in my head' to determine the pitch (I played the violin for 12 years).

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Personally, I just don't like always thinking about things like that.

I love music, and it's what I want to go into, but I also want a life that doesn't involve music too. I want a life where I can play basketball with friends...or watch a movie...or go hiking...where I'm not analyzing the musical aspects of the noise the rubber makes when the ball hits the court...or what pitch the bird in front of us is singing at.

I too compose...so not all composers love their "gift" of perfect pitch. But...don't get me wrong...it's helped me a great deal. I can play a horn more efficiently.

And Ren...what I've found is that you are born with perfect pitch...but in order to fully understand and use it completely, you have to train it a small bit. And yes..it is mostly music memory...but first you have to understand what's happening in your mind you know?

Geez...I dunno about this being a film composer thing anymore...it seems that everyone and their uncle are going into film composition...a lot of peoples' dreams are going to be shattered eventually...rough field to get into I guess. :?

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My best friend reckons she has perfect pitch. I don't know how she feels about it (other than obviously quite proud) but it can annoy me to no end when she picks at music for playing the wrong notes or incorrect pitch or whatever she thinks is going wrong. So yes, StrongBad, ignorance can be bliss (well, a certain amount of a certain type of ignorance in any case :music:). But regardless of what anyone has to say about perfect pitch, I just hope it's not contagious! :D

CYPHER

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  • 2 weeks later...

Perfect pitch is not a thing you are born with. How could it be? It's so strongly related with knowing the names of the notes that I am pretty sure that all who have got it earned it (casually or not) after having had some experience with music.

I'm 18 years old now (nearly 19) and I've got perfect pitch since I was 12, more or less, that's an year and a half after I started studying music. Any time I hear a telephone ring, a bell or any other sound, I immediately know what note it is, and so it , obviously, when I hear any instrument. I can recognize the simple chords immediately, without thinking to every single note; with sophisticated chord it's more difficult but after hearing them twice or three times I can tell which notes are in. I think it's a wonderful gift, rather than a curse! It helped me a lot in composing and also in playing piano! I only think it would be incredibly difficult to play trasposer instruments, for you would always have to read the "wrong" note and to hear the "good" one... THAT should be an horrible sensation!

I don't know about John Williams, but I think he has it, as well as Morricone. And it doesn't depend on hearing. Beethoven had it, though he was deaf: it's only a matter of musical memory, as someone said before.

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I hear that relative pitch is more important, that one should at least know what a note is if they are told what a note near it is.

And score, don't you know that what you are born with is only the potential for something.

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I know, you can be born with the POTENTIAL, but not immediately with perfect pitch! Perhaps many non-musicians have this "potential" but will not develop it. However, I think p. pitch can be learned, with the apposite training, it's not only for those who have the "potential" from their birth. I heard about some people who gained it at an adult age.

A good relative pitch is equivalent to perfect pitch for the common uses of composing and transcribing, but with perfect pitch you don't need anyone to tell you "what a note near is". It's automatic, you don't have to think to detect the name of the note, so it is easier and less tiring! Without perfect pitch, however, you won't hear "note names" all day long at every bell or phone ring, a thing that, as Strongbad said, could be annoying at long times... :)

And perfect pitch isn't essential nor sufficient to be good musicians...

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From what I've read, perfect pitch seems to have very little heritibility; it is mostly learned. Most people who have it learned at a very early age, so it seems like they were born with it. It helps to be exposed to music at a very early age... like to have one of those small keyboards with colored keys or such. (A lot of peolpe say they see colors when listening to music... and firsthand reports of that here?)

Anyway, the findings that support this conclusion are focused on the cultural differences. People in, for example, Viet Nam have a MUCH higher incidence of perfect pitch than in the Wentern world, becaule their language depends on it. I think the word "ma" has three or four completely different meanings depending on the pitch at which it is spoken. There are other countries where this is true as well. Here, pitch mainly conveys the tone of the sentence, so it is far less important.

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  • 16 years later...

I think he does because in this video at 6:35 he says; "If i go to a dinner party, wich i do rarley and somebody has music on I'm thniking well thats in d major and oh my god! the F# was flat!!"

 

Could mean two things

- He has absolute pitch and therefore he could tell what key it's in

- or he knew it was in D-Major and therefore he heard that the F# was flat, wich is'nt that much really.....

 

LINK THE TO VIDEO!! (youtube)

 

 

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13 minutes ago, KBR said:

I think he does because in this video at 6:35 he says; "If i go to a dinner party, wich i do rarley and somebody has music on I'm thniking well thats in d major and oh my god! the F# was flat!!"

 

Could mean two things

- He has absolute pitch and therefore he could tell what key it's in

- or he knew it was in D-Major and therefore he heard that the F# was flat, wich is'nt that much really.....

 

LINK THE TO VIDEO!! (youtube)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skh9N2UH1Fo

 

 

It's the latter. He has said in another interview (can't remember which) that he doesn't have perfect pitch, but he does have a good relative pitch (as anybody with his musical experience would surely obtain). 

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On 8/6/2003 at 12:53 PM, diskobolus said:

i have perfect pitch... it came from 14 years of piano. i dont mind. i'm told it's rare, but i dont get that.

Perfect pitch means you can identify specific notes.

My counterpoint teacher used to demonstrate this. With his back turned, four students would each strike one note on the piano, and he would correctly identify the.

People with this ability recognize sound the way we recognize color!

Musical ability is definitely transferable thru genetics.

It's no accident that prodigys appear in math, chess and music.

They are all based on a fixed, mathematical system.

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1 hour ago, bruce marshall said:

People with this ability recognize sound the way we recognize color!

 

Is perfect pitch directly coupled with synesthesia? That's the first I've heard that. I'll have to ask my cousin if she has perfect pitch.

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2 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

Is perfect pitch directly coupled with synesthesia? That's the first I've heard that. I'll have to ask my cousin if she has perfect pitch.

No.

 

I meant they recognize a specific note the way we recognize color.

We don't THINK about it; we don't analyse it. We just know it when we see it.

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When I hear Goldsmith do his "  see- saw.open fifth e.g. Klingon theme, I recognize the intervalic relationship. That's relative pitch.

A person with pp will tell you the EXACT two note; e.g Bflat - F below middle C.

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For a musician, Relative Pitch is much more important than Perfect Pitch. The former allows you to easily identify chords and intervals.

 

That said, PP can be acquired by training, although some people master this much easier than others. There are several methods, some associate color (and the associated 12 pitches) with a certain frequency thru intense repetition. Eventually your brain will remember the association. Or not.

 

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I grew up in a family of musicians.

Before learning the piano , I could pick out melodies by trial and error. I could instantly hear a song and sing along in key.

To me, thats what we call a good ear, acquired, in part. by being.around music.

By contrast, I had a natural sense of rhythm- took up drums aged 10- which is mostly inherited IMO

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12 hours ago, Pando said:

That said, PP can be acquired by training, although some people master this much easier than others. There are several methods, some associate color (and the associated 12 pitches) with a certain frequency thru intense repetition. Eventually your brain will remember the association. Or not.

 

I imagine you'd still need synesthesia to learn it via colours. Or at least I don't think I could learn to associate colours with pitches (or intervals or anything). As far as relative pitch goes, years of choir singing have trained me to at least recognise some intervals if I can run through them several times in my mind (which usually means it's much harder for me if music is still playing).

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Why isn't this thread on the JOHN WILLIAMS page?

 

 

Anyway....

I just heard an audio clip from CE3K.; the scene where the keyboardist is attempting to duplicate the alien musical language.

The hired someone with" perfect pitch" to decipher the proper notes!

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  • 1 year later...
On 07/08/2003 at 10:58 AM, Ren said:

i don't believe you develop perfect pitch. i believe it is something you are born with, or else you don't really have it. . .it is just muscle memory (vocal) and really good aural memory.

I doubt this. I have met and talked at length with many people who have this common belief, however- perhaps a self-consolation for being a long-time musician without perfect pitch (which I say with no intended offense). I am a composer with perfect pitch. I started Suzuki violin at age 4, and have since picked up piano, clarinet, viola, saxophone, E flat clarinet, flute, and several others less proficiently, and have developed microtonal perfect pitch (if you don't know what that is, look up Jacob Collier). I did not have this ability when I first started musical instruments.

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He has the worst pitch of any composer I've ever heard in my entire life.

 

(I don't know what pitch means in the context of film music, I just want to be a sexy contrarian getting some attention)

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Another familial story.

A cousin was in an orchestra conducted by Andre Previn, who was famous for.his ' ear'.

At one rehearsal, they decided to play a trick.

When the orchestra tuned up on the traditional middle C, my cousin tuned up his oboe at b-flat.

Previn, not batting an eye said" will every body please tune.down a half- step, except for the oboe"!..

That's right; out of an large orchestra he could tell the oboe was barely out of tune.

And, instead of having one instrument get in sync with the orchestra, he had the orchestra get in sync with.the oboe.

You don't mess with The Prev.😄

 

1 hour ago, Kasey Kockroach said:

He has the worst FIRST pitch of any composer I've ever heard in my entire life.

 

 

😉

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7 hours ago, bruce marshall said:

Another familial story.

A cousin was in an orchestra conducted by Andre Previn, who was famous for.his ' ear'.

At one rehearsal, they decided to play a trick.

When the orchestra tuned up on the traditional middle C, my cousin tuned up his oboe at b-flat.

Previn, not batting an eye said" will every body please tune.down a half- step, except for the oboe"!..

That's right; out of an large orchestra he could tell the oboe was barely out of tune.

And, instead of having one instrument get in sync with the orchestra, he had the orchestra get in sync with.the oboe.

You don't mess with The Prev.😄

 

😉

 

Well, something's funky here. Orchestras tune on A. And Bb is a whole step down from C, not a half. And any half-decent musician would be able to hear a piercing instrument like the oboe playing a totally different note from everyone else; certainly wouldn't take perfect pitch. And the whole tuning procedure is for the oboe to play their A and then let everyone else match it, since the oboe has an unusual lack of built-in methods for changing its tuning.

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Well, it seems like anyone who doesn't start consistently playing an instrument around age 5 is pretty much fucked for developing perfect pitch. All the people who I've heard have it seem to have it as a result of lifetime instrument practice, and often make their living through music as well. Apparently it's not even a guarantee, given that I'm pretty sure Williams practiced instruments since he was very young and he doesn't seem to have it so... unfortunately it seems very rare and possibly genetic as previously stated. 

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1 minute ago, Jurassic Shark said:

The major advantages that I know of is being able to read and write music without having an instrument to play on

 

You definitely do not need perfect pitch to do either of those without an instrument on hand!

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I have perfect pitch, they say, and played the piano from a very early age. I've always taken it for granted and am always surprised that some musicians tell me it's so great that I have perfect pitch. I mean, how can you not have it when involved in music?

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Most people tend to use perfect pitch as some proof that a musician or composer they like was somehow chosen by God (or Fate [or Whatever]) to be in music.  Which is nice to think about I guess but doesn't seem relevant

 

1 minute ago, bollemanneke said:

how can you not have it when involved in music?

 

Knowing the relationships between the pitches seems more important to me than just being able to identify a particular pitch in isolation.  It's the relative pitch that matters surely?

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3 minutes ago, Fabulin said:

I've never heard of the Fanfare for Fenway

 

We have a whole thread about it!

 

https://www.jwfan.com/forums/index.php?/topic/21537-williams-fenway-park-fanfare

 

3 minutes ago, Fabulin said:

Does it have any other name?

 

 

I don't think so

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

 

You definitely do not need perfect pitch to do either of those without an instrument on hand!

 

Agreed, but I assume it's easier if you have perfect pitch, because then the relative pitch would be very good.

 

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4 hours ago, Datameister said:

 

Well, something's funky here. Orchestras tune on A. And Bb is a whole step down from C, not a half. And any half-decent musician would be able to hear a piercing instrument like the oboe playing a totally different note from everyone else; certainly wouldn't take perfect pitch. And the whole tuning procedure is for the oboe to play their A and then let everyone else match it, since the oboe has an unusual lack of built-in methods for changing its tuning.

I may have the specifics wrong I.e. pitch and instrument, but the story is the same.

Previn picked out one instrument in.the entire orchestra that was half- step flat/sharp.

Let's see you do that!

 

Fyi I heard him tell this story on the radio( NPR?). So, it was memorable and impressive to him

 

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2 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:
3 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

 

You definitely do not need perfect pitch to do either of those without an instrument on hand!

 

Agreed, but I assume it's easier if you have perfect pitch, because then the relative pitch would be very good.

 

It's probably helpful for *learning* it, but once you've learned decent relative pitch, I wouldn't expect it to make much of a difference for *doing* it.

 

I imagine it's useful for staying in tune. It's certainly helpful for knowing when you're getting *out* of tune, and you don't even need perfect pitch for that yourself - whenever I'm worried that our choir may be dropping out of tune, I just look at one of our sopranos opposite me who I know has perfect pitch. Based on her grimaces I can usually tell if it's time to start singing each note a bit higher than expected.

 

37 minutes ago, bruce marshall said:

Previn picked out one instrument in.the entire orchestra that was half- step flat/sharp.

 

People here do it all the time, whenever Williams conducts a live concert.

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