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Importance of pitch recognition skills in AE?
Old 28th January 2003
  #1
Harmless Wacko
 

...

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Old 28th January 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Renie's Avatar
 

SM,

http://www.good-ear.com/servlet/EarTrainer
Free Online Ear Training, Chords, Cadences, Perfect Pitch...

e-cue posted the link to this site up. I think it's really useful.

I think pitch skills are important as part of AE. I don't think absolute pitch is essential. But for some clients/kinds of music it probably is.

The skill of being in tune with the client and the music as a whole is more important in my view.
Old 28th January 2003
  #3
Lives for gear
 
e-cue's Avatar
 

I think being able to pick out a bad note is important, but I don't think saying "That 3rd quarter note was a cent sharp in bar 8 of the coda" is... I've met people that if you farted, they could tell you how many cents it was off. If I thought like that when I listened to music, I'd go insane. "Off notes" aren't always a bad thing. The "Perfect imperfections" comes to mind.
Old 28th January 2003
  #4
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

absolute doesnt bother me. sometimes i like it being off by some change.... but i have had clients who hated a solo because one note was a half a cent off... which i can easily go in and fix w/o retracking it, much to the amazement of the client.
Old 28th January 2003
  #5
Gear Head
 

i don't think absolute pitch is crucial, but i agree with e-cue that relative pitch / general theory is always valuable to me.

in my years of private music lessons, i had many many performers express how pleased they are when they walk into a session and the engineer actually knows a little something about music. and they also expressed frustration at engineers who would say "great take!" when someone in the group was completely out of tune or clearly missed some notes... of course, the importance of that depends entirely on what you're recording, too. ie, if its screaming punk rock it probably doesn't matter quite as much.

-a-
Old 28th January 2003
  #6
s2n
Gear Nut
 

I have perfect pitch. It freaks the clients out.
Old 28th January 2003
  #7
Gear Addict
 

As a cellist, intonation is a very important part of any session work i do. And i'm not perfect! Especially when i'm focusing on nailing a rhythm or something, a sour note can get by me, and it's really nice when the engineer catches it.

Of course this is totally different from "perfect pitch," which i find unnecessary and even problematic. In my experience, people with perfect pitch have a very different experience of music, and can be very bothered by a group tuning to something other than a standard A=440, while the rest of us don't notice or give a ****.

So: relative pitch=good, perfect pitch=who cares?
Old 28th January 2003
  #8
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

It's a good idea to know about all aspects of music and art and culture to be an AE. The business aspect of being well rounded is that it will expose you to more clients. It'll probably also keep you from making ignorant cross culture judgements that'll lose you some work.
Flutes from the Andes are basically tuned in scales that have different steps than our tempered tuned instruments, how are you gonna autopitch that ****, or Indian music, and they'll try to murder you if you do. There are forms of music that simply don't adhere to tempered tunings, even western string, brass and woodwind ensembles, where "just" key based harmonies are preferred over "tempered" harmony.
If you work with musicians you should be able to speak their language, this means having a formal or informal musical training and the ability to at least follow along with the score and be able to sight sing maybe even in solfeggio.
I guess I'm not even considering the lower arguments of this subject.
Old 28th January 2003
  #9
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sonic dogg's Avatar
Its been shown that there are two entirely different parts of the brain that 'hears' and 'identifies' pitch....both are subject to the state at which they are placed in to 'hear'...one state is subjective and the other is objective....subjective hearing is when you would be laying down a track and actually playing an instrument...the feeling and dynamics of the performance...ie how into it you got would affect your ability to truly hear pitch.....objective would be the moment you go into the CR to listen back and realize just how bad it was...........
Old 29th January 2003
  #10
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by s2n
I have perfect pitch. It freaks the clients out.
Bawhhahahahahahahahaahahahahadshfgadsjfgdskdhahahq72498128734oiue1ri8ugjhbcvnmcb cjnbwufyw2ruywe8ryeoiyhyahahahahahahhahaa
Old 29th January 2003
  #11
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Good question. There's a few other things that come up and are related.

When should cleints leave a great take alone even though it was a little flat/sharp and they're the only one that hears it? How sharp is too sharp? And how flat is too flat? Flat like a pizza or flat like silly putty?

How much musical knowledge do you have and when should it be used? I know some theory and that freaks out some of my indie rock/punk clients.

I gotta split and get back to work... more later...
Old 29th January 2003
  #12
Moderator emeritus
 

I haven't chimed in yet, so I thought I'd put in my two cents.

I think that pitch recorgnition skills ARE important to an audio engineer, but that perfect pitch isn't. I also think that the ability to read (and ideally) write a chart in whatever style the local musicians use is vastly important - and if the musicians you record don't use any charts, then you should know how to write something that you can use as an accurate road map of each song. (Of course, I also like to have a set of lyrics in front of me when I record vocalists...).

In Nashville, number charts are the rule, But I can follow anything from lead sheets to conductors scores. I haven't learned to read shape note music yet, but one of these days...
Old 29th January 2003
  #13
s2n
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
Bawhhahahahahahahahaahahahahadshfgadsjfgdskdhahahq72498128734oiue1ri8ugjhbcvnmcb cjnbwufyw2ruywe8ryeoiyhyahahahahahahhahaa
Glad you liked the joke.

Do you like this one?

dfegad Pensado
Old 29th January 2003
  #14
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
So anyway, finished tracking a vocal, mixing three songs and made and consumed a cheesesteak on a bagel at 3am. I'm ready to go...

Realitive pitch is very important. If your an AE or a producer you need to be able to listen to things and know if it's way outta whack or just a little out, pick out the bad note in a chord or whatever else comes up. Knowing a little bit of music theory is never a bad thing too. There have been a few times that a song is in B major and the guitar player is trying to play B minor over it... Uhhh buddy... here try playing in G sharp... ummm... yeah... down 3 frets...
grudge rollz

At the same time knowing theory can freak out a lot of people that have no musical training. I'll try explaining something and I see the eyes glaze over. At that point I usually say whatever and get back to work. If they don't understand modes there's no way I'm going to be able to have them grasp the concept of diminished 5th's and augmented 4th's and resoultion.

What usually kills me is tracking vocals. A lot of times things I like really bug a singer. They'll say it's a bit pitchy and I'll say so what, the delivery was great. Or they'll hear little things that I don't hear. I always hate that one. I think the best was the time I sent a lead vocal through auto-tune and it tuned all the stuff that didn't bug me and tuned all the stuff that did.
Old 29th January 2003
  #15
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by s2n
Glad you liked the joke.

Do you like this one?

dfegad Pensado
1st one was much better...
Old 29th January 2003
  #16
Harmless Wacko
 

...
Old 29th January 2003
  #17
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Renie's Avatar
 

I wonder if 'perfect pitch' has got anything to do with genetic ancestry to tree monkeys where, in visibility reduced dense foliage, recognition of sound alarms (across species sometimes) is essential to survival.

I don't know if pitch is key to these sounds though.

Do people with perfect pitch have a tendency to have better hearing full stop?

It's amazing how nerves can clam up my pitch recognition.
Old 30th January 2003
  #18
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

I'm glad this one's at the end. If the artist isn't, it's your job to make him one. If the artist is, it's your job to help him, or to make him one.
The AE has a pitiless, thankless job. One may find one's self Vacuuming the construction of a seemingly useless space, to find one day that it's been used to make all the ****ty stuff we see on MTV.
Or one can find one's self answering threads like this.
We're suckers at heart and only few of us fly the friendly skies.
If your well rounded you can rationalize all of this.
Old 31st January 2003
  #19
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David R.'s Avatar
 

Relative pitch, IMHO, is more important than perfect pitch. So often I have a client tell me "punch in at the E flat" or something like that. If you know the key of the song, you can figure out where the E flat is.

As much as we would all like it to be, not all instruments are at 440.
Old 31st January 2003
  #20
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I've never had a client ask me to punch them in at a specific note. Maybe I'm lucky. I've heard "get me out at the end of the 3rd bar, just before I hit the G7sus9" or whatever but then at least you have two points of referance. The end of the bar and a chord change.
Old 31st January 2003
  #21
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

Most orchestras are tuned to A=442, thus all fixed pitch instruments (xylophone, marimba, piano, bells, woodblocks etc...) are tuned likewise, most accordeons are tuned like this also. A=440 is used in students instruments and music therapy and of course guitars, basses and synths, I've never checked a B-3. ?? or a Rhodes, but the Rhodes you can have tuned how you like.
Problems?? studio piano at 440 and someone brings an accordeon (which can't be tuned) do you live with it or break out the Eventide? or don't write arrangements for pno and acc?
Old 31st January 2003
  #22
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by 7rojo7
Most orchestras are tuned to A=442, thus all fixed pitch instruments (xylophone, marimba, piano, bells, woodblocks etc...) are tuned likewise, most accordeons are tuned like this also.
Nope - most orchestras, at least in the US, use A=440. But that varies from about A=435 up to about A=448. The last three accodrions I've recorded, different models of Weltmeisters, were at 440 as well.

There are some wonderful stories about touring orchestras performing works that included pipe organ, where the pipe organ was almost a half step off (and no one thought to check before the performance...).

If you can find a copy of George Bernard Shaw's "On Music", you'll read that the problems was endemic over a hundred years ago.

But in any case, whenever I've dealt with instruments in a non-standard tuning, I'll varispeed the tape. (For instance, it's a lot easter to slow down a track than it is to tone an autoharp up to concert pitch...)
Old 31st January 2003
  #23
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e-cue's Avatar
 

So, when I plug a guitar, or a moog into a guitar tuner to tune it, what is it telling me to tune to? (a=440? 442? 666?) Does it vary depending on where the tuner was made? (The US, Europe, Asia, etc)
Old 31st January 2003
  #24
Moderator emeritus
 

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
So, when I plug a guitar, or a moog into a guitar tuner to tune it, what is it telling me to tune to? (a=440? 442? 666?) Does it vary depending on where the tuner was made? (The US, Europe, Asia, etc)
440; electronic tuners generally have a calibration setting which allows you to set the standard above or below 440, though. When you use those old Conn Strobotuners, you'll notice that there's have a control right on the front panel which lets you set the reference standard to whatever you want.
Old 31st January 2003
  #25
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
So, when I plug a guitar, or a moog into a guitar tuner to tune it, what is it telling me to tune to? (a=440? 442? 666?) Does it vary depending on where the tuner was made? (The US, Europe, Asia, etc)
A=440. But, some tuners vary from each other. For example, if you use a Boss and a Korg you'll notice that one is a little sharp against the other. Not by much but enough to be really annoying.
Old 6th February 2003
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Fibes's Avatar
 

I always insist on one tuner or take the time to calibrate the mooks pedals...

Perfect pitch isn't as important as great relative pitch. If the guy recording Albert king insisted on him playing "in tune" it wouldn't have that sting on his trademark bends. Knowing a bit about theory and having a knack for doling it out in understandable doses is another plus.

Slipperman must be a drummer, he's also not as smart as the ol lady, makes me wonder....

I remember a story Cosmo vinyl was telling me about an (anal about theory) engineer bud of mine. The engineer was trying to get the bass player to change a "wrong" note and Cosmo stepped in and explained how the engineer could understand what was going on without changing the "tense" note. Cosmo went through this elaborate stories about gnomes, dwarves, smokey meadows and mushrooms and then stopeed and looked the engineer in the eye and said: It's a ****ing dream sequence, just leave it alone it can't be explained." The note however, is pretty wrong.
Old 7th February 2003
  #27
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Fibes

Slipperman must be a drummer, he's also not as smart as the ol lady, makes me wonder....
Yeah, he's a drummer. Nice story about Cosmo. When something like that happens I usually say, "You can do whatever you want and call it art, but it sounds bad to me." Or there's always my favorite, "Your not Sonic Youth."
Old 7th February 2003
  #28
Harmless Wacko
 

...
Old 7th February 2003
  #29
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
Nope - most orchestras, at least in the US, use A=440. But that varies from about A=435 up to about A=448. The last three accodrions I've recorded, different models of Weltmeisters, were at 440 as well.
Most orchestra's are tunned to the oboe! lol

But seriously relative pitch is essential for a producer and desirable for an engineer. That being said, I know of several good engineers that do not. As one of the earlier posters said perfect pitch seems to be an annoyance to those that have it. I met a downs syndrome boy who had perfect pitch, and certain CD's sounded like they were playing slow!

Relative pitch does me just fine!

Regards


Roland
Old 8th February 2003
  #30
Gear Guru
 

Why do people want to have absolute pitch? There is this aura about it like if you have perfect pitch you have been chosen by God to be a musician.

Some recent scientific studies done with infants suggest that Everyone is born with perfect pitch and then most of us forget how to do it.

I have a theory as to why we forget: "Annoyed" is the word I most often associate with people who have Perfect pitch.

I had a friend in college who had perfect pitch. She would do things like make xylophones out of water glasses and re-tune them every morning with an eyedropper to compensate for evaporation.

Once when we were walking across campus at noon, these carillion bells started playing. She insisted on standing still until the bells finished. The reason? The bells were behind us and also echoing off a wall in front of us. She was annoyed by doppler effect of moving away from one sound source and towards another. Picky picky picky.

The musicians I know who have perfect pitch all complain about having it, while the rest of us wish we had that to complain about.
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