The Unconservatory  

(The Myth of "Perfect Pitch"..... and How to Get "It," by Kirk Whipple)

XIII. Enjoying music in "the wrong key"

Most singers will at one time or another sing a song in a key other than the original. While this is usually done to make it easier for the singer (or one or more of the other musicians in the group) it can bother someone who has a highly developed tonal memory. When you hear a song on the radio for the first time and hear it repeated (at the same pitch) on several successive airplays it can be a shock walking into a club and hearing a band play the same song a step (or two or three...) higher or lower than the original.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to compare live performances of orchestras in different countries you may notice differences not only in their interpretations but in their standard tuning as well. Does this trouble your "perfect pitch?" What about the ancient music ensembles that "sound flat?" Will you still be able to sit through a performance without worrying about the tuning?

My advice finally is "Deal With It!" If you expect tunings of vocalists, instrumentalists and their repertoire to vary widely (and they will!) you and your internal reference library will not be shocked. You can tell yourself not to use the guitar player’s E in your disciplined study. Relax! Have a glass of wine and enjoy your new tonal experiences! By the way, how does the glass in this club compare to your favorite "bright E" at home?

Next installment:
Just could not resist...

Other installments:
The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 1

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 2

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 3

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 4

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 5

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 6

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 7

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 8

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 9

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 10

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 11

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 12

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 13

The Myth of "Perfect Pitch" - 14

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Updated: September 18, 2004 (KB)

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