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Jun. 30th, 2009 @ 09:53 pm How do they do it?
My name is Elcon, I sing and mess around the keyboards and harmonica and interested in aurall musical abilities. I also have a decent pitch memory.

I'd like to get to some questions I have:

1. Imagine any tone, what timbre is it and would you have an explanation for that particular timbre?

2. Is there any difference in effort or simplicity in recalling just a single tone and the recall of any song in their correct key? 
(What is important here is merely the accurate key of the piece/song and not the entire song with all its instruments and sounds) 

3. When you recall a tone, with your best intention to have it accurate to the musical standard, in most cases A = 440, do you only need that one tone or would you use a song to adjust or determine its accuracy?

4. Do you ever notice to be off-pitch when mentally recalling tones? If so, what do you do about correcting this?

5. For us singers, do you notice going flat or sharp gradually when singing acapella? If so, would you notice immediately or at some other point perhaps?

Can I ask one more?

6. If you feel that perfect pitch is all about recognition, how do you explain the recall of tones without external reference?
Could perfect pitch be pitch memory instead? If you don't believe so, could you elaborate on it? 

Awesome, I am looking forward for interesting answers already!

Take care and have a wonderful day!

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Date:June 30th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
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5. I'm in a choir and I do notice it, almost immediately!

6. Yes I agree that it is, but with the capacity to retain it without having to hear the songs etc.
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Date:June 30th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
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1. Usually piano or cello. Cello is my primary instrument, but pianos are obviously everywhere so I hear them often enough!

2. Not really. Although when I'm recalling a song sometimes I'd go back and correct a note if I feel I get it wrong (I have VERY little sense of relative pitch).

3. Not sure how you mean here. I assume when you're recalling a sound, and like most relative pitchers, use it to base the rest of the song around. I still would need a reference tone because I can be slightly out of tune.

4. Yes. Not a lot one can do except continual practise and listening. Sometimes it depends on external factors too.

5. I don't actively notice, but sometimes I can get a bit edgy.

6. Yes, it's a bit like pitch memory.
As far as I'm aware people with absolute pitch actually assign something to each individual note/tone/key (for example if you grew up learning fixed-doh solfege). It doesn't have to be actively assigning either, it can just be as simple as recognising each individual note as an individual entirety instead of in relation to other notes.
It's why synesthetes generally have absolute pitch - because they remember the colours of the notes and keys and there is a direct association (I recall reading a report on brain scans of absolute pitch possessors and it found that they tended to use the visual part of their brain when identifying notes using absolute pitch ability). One efficient way people remember things is purely by association (it's how these 'memory' champions memorise several packs of cards).

Okay, I'm a geek, and I've obviously done a lot of research...but I'm happy to try and answer any further questions :)
Date:June 30th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for all your answers so far, I appreciate it much.

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Date:July 1st, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
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1. It's my own voice, I think... it's the sound I hear in my head when I sing a tone, even though I'm not singing it. Not sure why that is.

2. I'm not sure what you mean by this either - do you mean is it easier for me to answer "what note is this" than "what key is this song in"? I can always answer "what note is this" instantly, and I can always recognize what key a tune is in instantly. If I'm trying to remember the key of a piece without having hear it recently, I might struggle a little more - sometimes I transpose it in my head so I can sing along, and I think of it in that key, or I might have accompanied someone singing it in a different key more recently than hearing the original.

3. Mostly if I'm trying to get it accurate within a couple cents, I might sing a triad or a scale or something rather than a melody, but I suppose a melody would work.

4. I notice it when I'm sick or tired - I'm usually flat. I don't put too much stock in it, and once I notice that I'm doing it it pretty much corrects itself. And, if it doesn't, I just use a piano :)

5. Oh, yes. I notice it as soon as it happens, and I also notice it as soon as it fits into the next half-step. Then I feel like I can actually sing the notes again! It's hard to sing between half-steps, but trust me, I've sung in some choirs before where it's been very important that I sing in between pitches for just that very reason :)

6. That's an interesting question. I never thought about it in terms of recognition or memory, it always seems to me that it's a little bit of both. (I also don't feel like it's "real" perfect pitch unless the recall and identification of notes is instantaneous, but I might be alone in that belief.) I don't have to think about the characteristics of a note when I hear it, or spend time trying to decide between something. The best way I can describe it is to liken it to reading and writing - if you ask me to identify a printed letter on the page, I know what it is instantly because I know the alphabet, I don't have to think "now it has two lines going up and down and one going sideways, so it must be an H". I just know it's an H. And consequently, I don't think about the characteristics of the letter H when you tell me to write it - two lines up and down and one sideways - but I just write the letter, because the whole thing is what the letter looks like. I hope that makes some kind of sense :)