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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Pitch

littleuch
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Florida

May 8th, 2018 11:22 AM   Edit   Profile  

The other day I popped into a local event at a park. At one end was a trio of guitar, fiddle and female vocalist. The other was a younger guy in a formal suit playing violin under a tree. Now the trio sounded decent, playing some standards in a Hot Club fashion. They fiddle player clearly had skills but man, the pitch. At times it sounded like he was playing a feral cat. Now the dude in the suit under the tree, beautiful pitch, fluent vibrato, a breath of fresh air. I love Django+Grapelli and know jazz has a different approach than classical, but this was an abysmal disparity.

It made me wonder where musicians prioritize pitch in their skills.

Leftee
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VA

May 8th, 2018 11:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

It's the one thing I've noticed in my step-daughter's violin playing. She has *always* had great pitch.

I don't think she prioritizes it in a conscious sense. It's just how she plays. I suspect she can hear herself extremely well. That's a weird statement, but I think there's truth in that.

littleuch
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Florida

May 8th, 2018 11:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

No, I agree. I think some hear small pitch issues more than others and incorporate it into their technique.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 8th, 2018 11:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

I think pitch sensitivity is one of those things that's about 80-90% inborn and 10-20% learned and honed. Singers and bowed string players don't have frets to help them, so if they don't have -- or can't develop -- accurate pitch discrimination, they're kind of doomed.

Want to test yourself? Play, say, an open 3rd string G on your guitar and check that it's spot on with a tuner. Then set the tuner to mic input, close your eyes, sing that note and hold it. While holding it, open your eyes and look at the tuner. You may find the result surprising and/or humbling.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 03:05 PM, May 8th, 2018)

Hammond101
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So. Cal. USA

May 8th, 2018 05:00 PM   Edit   Profile  

The guitar equivalent is pedal or lap steel, no frets, you play it with your ears.

Some guys botch most bends on a fretted guitar too. Very annoying.

My old roommate's Daughter just did her senior college recital on violin. He sent me the link to the performance. The young lady is truly gifted in the pitch department and has the chops to boot. She will have the ability to work with the orchestra of her choice but will most likely do something with the US Forest Service. She becomes an intern next month.

Her dad and I are both excited and sad. Music can be a tough life.

Leftee
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VA

May 8th, 2018 05:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

Add trombone to the list.

Step-daughter’s pitch and tone has always been great. I used to listen to how she absolutely perfectly hit notes.

Now her chops are really taking off too! It is thrilling to witness. And humbling.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 8th, 2018 05:50 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'll probably get flogged here, but anyway...





Harmonica.


I teach harmonica and there are 4 notes achievable in the draw hole #3.
There is the naturally occurring draw note, and 3 semitones below that which are achieved by bending.

One of the hardest part about teaching bending is pitch.
Some got it, some really have to work at it, others just never will get it.

That said, I've only encountered a couple of people that simply could *not* hear the difference in a semitone. (say B to Bb)

They kindly got dismissed :^)


littleuch
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Florida

May 9th, 2018 12:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

No flogging here Mick. I worked with several front men that were harmonica players. They were all good to very good in their own way, but...Even one who had good pitch and vibrato and could make that thing sound like the proverbial Mississippi saxophone had some note selection issues. Usually in a minor blues type thing and he's on a major third, yeow...

Personally I think I've always had really good pitch perception. That's not boastful of my abilities save for knowing when I suck, lol. As a home hobbyist/recordist, pitch correction software has been a really good tool for training my eyes what my ears already hear. You get to identify bad performance characteristics, grace notes that sound right but may be flat, etc.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 9th, 2018 04:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

"You get to identify bad performance characteristics, grace notes that sound right but may be flat, etc."

Yeah, like they used to say...
the tape don't lie!



Nowadays:
Tape???
What is this tape you speak of???


5Strats
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Edmond/OKC

GospelBilly!
May 9th, 2018 06:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

Blue notes and micro tones are very cool, if done musically. Being off pitch for other reasons isn't good to hear.

Note - Buddy Guy's playing bothered me, at least "initially," because he often doesn't bend notes to pitch. However, I got over being TOO WHITE and can appreciate him very well now. (:oD

Achase4u

U.S. - Virginia

May 9th, 2018 06:51 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Nowadays:
Tape???
What is this tape you speak of???"

Hard to come by...

Honestly, I hear where pitch isnt perfect on many old great albums. As long as you finesse it and it's not too far out, it's great music that sounds human.

Super tuned stuff is still strange sounding to me.

5Strats
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Edmond/OKC

GospelBilly!
May 10th, 2018 05:48 AM   Edit   Profile  

"Honestly, I hear where pitch isnt perfect on many old great albums. As long as you finesse it and it's not too far out, it's great music that sounds human."

Yes!

littleuch
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Florida

May 10th, 2018 06:12 AM   Edit   Profile  

I think the human voice has a little more leeway. What comes to mind is Rickie Lee Jones debut album, especially the torch ballads. Sliding into the "almost" note, well that was just downright sexy to my ears.

(This message was last edited by littleuch at 08:13 AM, May 10th, 2018)

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 12th, 2018 10:29 AM   Edit   Profile  

"...I think the human voice has a little more leeway..."

I agree with that, but I think we're talking about two different things. Intentionally bending pitch is fine. Listen to Elvis -- especially the early stuff -- and he's bending and sliding all over the place.

But not being able to tell when you're off is something else. That can be downright painful to hear, whether it's voice or an instrument.

littleuch
Contributing Member
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Florida

May 12th, 2018 11:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

"But not being able to tell when you're off is something else."

Yep, the Lucy Ricardo voice. Coming in flat is one thing, but sharp makes my skin crawl.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
May 15th, 2018 04:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

"But not being able to tell when you're off is something else. That can be downright painful to hear, whether it's voice or an instrument."

Yes, the people I talked about previously I presume just couldn't *hear* the relationship between the different notes.

A little test to check your "internal tuner"
is to tune your guitar's low E with an electronic tuner; then tune the other five string by ear; then go back and check each string with the tuner and see how close or far off you are.

I like to do this with the open string tone first, then with the harmonics.

I use a tuner 99.9% of the time, but it's sometimes fun to check my own "calibration" :^)


FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Pitch




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