[Dixielandjazz] Re: Thoughts on memory, perfect pitch, etc.

Patrick Cooke amazingbass at cox.net
Mon Jun 6 07:14:26 PDT 2005

     .As for my own pitch memory, it has never been 'perfect' or even near 
perfect.  I even bought the course and the tried it, with no noticeable 
       But I tried to sing an F this morning, having not heard any music 
since waking; and lo! it was remarkably close.  I didn't check it against my 
electronic tuner, but on my fretted electric bass, which was the only thing 
not in a case.  The bass may have been slightly out of tune, but the steel 
strings usually hold pretty well.  I was somewhat amazed that I was that 
      My pitch has occasionally been right on (I hesitate to use the word 
'perfect'), but I usually regard it to be a fortunate accident.  It has 
always been far from perfect, and usually not even close.
        I do know that my ear is much better now than it was when I started 
playing over 60 years ago, which shows the skill can be improved, if not 
'learned'.  Either the problem is I didn't work hard enough or long enough 
to perfect it, or I found other things to learn that had more dramatic 
       Once we learn a melody, we can usually sing all the intervals, which 
says something for pitch memory, even in an untrained person.  Why then 
can't the pitch of an isolated note be identified?  Our brain obviously 
needs some reference point.  Our memory can sustain this reference point for 
the duration of a tune, or until we hear something in another key, which 
will put a new reference point in place.  If nothing else is heard to 
displace it, can this refernce point be remembered overnight...or for 
        .Recalling the movie "Rain Man", Dustin Hoffman played the part of 
one who was dysfuntional in many respects, but had the phenomenal ability to 
remember everything he had read, even to the point of remembering it all by 
page numbers.  He could also remember long sequences of numbers, cards 
played, etc; but he appeared to have little understanding of anything he had 
          I remember seeing the movie and wondering if he had perfect pitch.
          Pat Cooke 

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