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Discussion Starter #1
Hey there. Haven't been active here lately, I'm back now...

So basically I've been playing alto for about 7 years now, and I have developed perfect pitch... in E flat. Which is the same as having normal perfect pitch in concert C, except that because of playing alto since I've ever studied any music, I have it in Eb. So I can play anything I hear or think immediately on my alto. And to get it to the note in concert C tuning I have to think a minor 3rd up from the note in the alto, which isn't much of a deal, since I've grown to know the relative 3rds of basically every note I hear from the alto tuning, from so much training...

Anyways, these days, for a school project, I've had to play soprano sax. Playing the notes that are written isn't much of a problem.

It's when I want to have fun with the bass player or with someone on the piano, and want to play a tune by ear, or want to impro a bit. Because I don't know what note exactly is coming, I get so damn confused. I pretty much have to transpose a 5th down from my alto to get anything good off the soprano.

Any ideas? Anything I want to play in the alto and know how it sounds, I can play it immediately... Soprano... no way.

Is it possible to have perfect pitch in two different tunings, and switch between them whenever I want to?

I'm playing tenor in a few months probably, that'll be a problem...


Thanks
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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My advice is to adapt your perfect pitch to concert pitch, ie relearn the notes as concert. It will be much more useful to you in the future if doubling different saxes and woodwind.

Then you need to learn to transpose to Bb and Eb.

Do this as soon as possible before Eb perfect pitch becomes too ingrained. Trust me, you won't want to go through life only with "pre transposed to Eb" perfect pitch, it will screw you up on many levels and in many situations.

A good way to actually get this sorted might be to take up flute or C melody as a double and also study piano or guitar, it will force the perfect pitch top be concert, and it can't do any harm, only good IMO..
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
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AFAIK you don't develop perfect pitch. You either just have it, or you don't. What you have is relative pitch.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
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Imagine you'd play clarinet : Eb finerings in the low register, Bb in the upper ! We do have to think of our horn's notes as purely relative. Perfect pitch is great, but think in absolute terms: A = 440 Hz. Fingerings and what is written on your part changes from horn to horn, even on the same single horn.
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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AFAIK you don't develop perfect pitch. You either just have it, or you don't. What you have is relative pitch.
I thought the same thing.

I think you are just more familiar with how notes will sound in relation to concert pitch on alto than tenor, as that is your primary horn. I am a little slower to pick things up on alto when I first pick it up, as I am a 95% tenor player. After a little bit though, I get used to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
AFAIK you don't develop perfect pitch. You either just have it, or you don't. What you have is relative pitch.
No, I've always had it ever since I've played the sax. If you think about it it's the same as if I had learned the piano first. Since the first real identification of what a C is, and a D is, for example, was on the alto sax, I got perfect pitch in Eb.

And let me give the Wiki definition for relative pitch:

The term relative pitch may denote:

* the distance of a musical note from a set point of reference, e.g. "three octaves above middle C"
* a musician's ability to identify the intervals between given tones, regardless of their relation to concert pitch (A = 440 Hz)
* the skill used by singers to correctly sing a melody, following musical notation, by pitching each note in the melody according to its distance from the previous note. Alternatively, the same skill which allows someone to hear a melody for the first time and name the notes relative to some known starting pitch.
* developed through intense training, practicing hearing differences between major, minor, diminished, and augmented intervals
I don't see how I could POSSIBLY have relative pitch.
I'm not comparing notes from any tuning to another, neither have I got a note from which I compare every note I hear. I just immediately know what note it is.

That's called perfect pitch.

As for Pete Thomas response, which was quite helpful, here's the problem:

I don't know how to adapt this perfect pitch to concert C. Because I didn't need training to have it in Eb, I never learned how to train it, except when I'm hearing something and force myself to know every note. That's all the training I know...

Any ideas, Pete?


EDIT:
I thought the same thing.

I think you are just more familiar with how notes will sound in relation to concert pitch on alto than tenor, as that is your primary horn. I am a little slower to pick things up on alto when I first pick it up, as I am a 95% tenor player. After a little bit though, I get used to it.
As I've said before, for future clarification... I don't have natural perfect pitch in C. All I have is the training I've done sometimes of transposing the note from Eb to concert C. And NOT the opposite.
 

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Perfect pitch comes in different pacakges. One of my sons is an incredible pianist, violin player and composer. Hum any note and he can name it and tell you how sharp or flat it is - he has done that from childhood. He composes symphonies in his head and writes down all the orchestral parts. He can tune a piano by ear. Baby Mozart kinda stuff. With that as a backdrop, he is learning flute because Bb and Eb instruments give him fits - the notes written on the page are NOT what the pitch demands. He did start on piano (which may be his foundation for being in concert pitch).

My other son, does not have this gift, but as a devoted violin student he has learned/developed perfect pitch for A (440) tuning on the violin. From that A, he can find any other notes, and he can name the scale or chord type. I think of this as relative pitch for everything but the A, which is a learned perfect pitch.

As a non-gifted sax player, I've learned the concert tuning pitch, A (440), and locate other notes relative to it. So it doesn't matter to me if I play tenor, alto or soprano, the tuning note is the same and the fingering for a given written note on the page is the same. Doubling would be an irritating problem for little Mozart tho.........
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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As for Pete Thomas response, which was quite helpful, here's the problem:

I don't know how to adapt this perfect pitch to concert C. Because I didn't need training to have it in Eb, I never learned how to train it, except when I'm hearing something and force myself to know every note. That's all the training I know...

Any ideas, Pete?
I don't think it will be easy, it's a bit like a language, your first language will be the most ingrained, but it is possible to become as fluent in a second or third.

Although some people seem to be born with perfect pitch (and I know some musicians who curse this "ability") it is also possible to learn I believe. After all, it is nothing more or less than being able to remember what a pitch sounds like, just as you remember what a colour looks like.

Any kind of exercise that allows you to visualise or hear the name of the note along with the pitch will help. As I said above, concentrate for a while on C instruments, it won't be easy, but force yourself e.g. to play a keyboard and sing the names of the notes along with scales, melodies etc.

Learning to transpose is similar in a way. I can always visualise the Eb note name and the concert note name when playing alto.
 
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