Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Absolute or Perfect Pitch

Fellow Vocalists!

Absolute or Perfect Pitch has been a widely understood or misunderstood issue through the ages. Here is some valuable information that should be helpful for us all to get on the "same page" regarding the facts surrounding this issue.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or sing a musical note without the benefit of a known reference.


Absolute pitch, or perfect pitch, is "the ability to attach labels to isolated auditory stimuli on the basis of pitch alone" without external reference. Possessors of absolute pitch exhibit the ability in varying degrees. Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities.

1)Identify and name individual pitches played on various instruments
2)Name the key of a given piece of tonal music
3)Identify and name all the tones of a given chord or other tonal mass
4)Sing a given pitch without an external reference
5)Name the pitches of common everyday occurrences such as car horns

Individuals may possess both absolute pitch and relative pitch ability in varying degrees. Both relative and absolute pitch work together in actual musical listening and practice, although individuals exhibit preferred strategies in using each skill

CHICAGO (Reuters)

Musicians and singers work for years to develop their sense of pitch but few can name a musical note without a reference tone. U.S. researchers on Monday said one gene may be the key to that coveted ability. Only 1 in 10,000 people have perfect or absolute pitch, the uncanny ability to name the note of just about any sound without the help of a reference tone.

"One guy said, 'I can name the pitch of anything -- even farts,"' said Dr. Jane Gitschier of the University of California, San Francisco, whose study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

She and colleagues analyzed the results of a three-year, Web-based survey and musical test that required participants to identify notes without the help of a reference tone. More than 2,200 people completed the 20-minute test.

"We noticed that pitch-naming ability was roughly an all-or-nothing phenomenon," she said. That lead researchers to conclude that one gene, or perhaps a few, may be behind this talent.

Gitschier said those with perfect pitch were able to correctly identify both piano tones and pure computer-generated tones that were devoid of the distinctive sounds of any musical instrument.

She said people with perfect pitch were able to pick out the pure tones with ease. And they also tended to have had early musical training -- before the age of 7. “We think it probably takes the two things," she said. They also found that perfect pitch tends to deteriorate with age.

"As people get older, their perception goes sharp. If a note C is played, and they're 15, they will say it's a C. But if they're 50, they might say it's a C sharp."

"This can be very disconcerting for them," Gitschier said. The most commonly misidentified note, based on the study, is a G sharp. That may be because G sharp is overshadowed by A, its neighbor on the scale, they said. A is often used by orchestras in the West as a tuning reference.

Gitschier said she and her colleagues were focusing on identifying the gene responsible for perfect pitch, which will involve gene mapping. Then they will try to figure out what is different in people with absolute pitch.

"We'll have to play it by ear, so to speak," she said.

Linguistics of Absolute Pitch

Absolute pitch is more common among speakers of tonal languages such as most dialects of Chinese or Vietnamese, which depend heavily on pitch for lexical meaning. "Tone deafness" is unusual among native speakers of these languages[citations needed]. Speakers of Sino-Tibetan languages have been reported to speak a word in the same absolute pitch (within a quarter-tone) on different days; it has therefore been suggested that absolute pitch may be acquired by infants when they learn to speak in a tonal language(and possibly also by infants when they learn to speak in a pitch stress language). However, the brains of tonal-language speakers do not naturally process musical sound as language; perhaps such individuals may be more likely to acquire absolute pitch for musical tones when they later receive musical training.

It is possible that level-tone languages which are found in Africa—such as Yoruba,with three pitch levels, and Mambila,[16] with four—may be better suited to study the role of absolute pitch in speech than the contour-tone languages of East Asia. Further, speakers of European languages have been found to make use of an absolute, though subconscious, pitch memory when speaking.

Potential problems

Persons who have absolute pitch may feel irritated when a piece is transposed to a different key or played at a nonstandard pitch.They may fail to develop strong relative pitch when following standard curricula, despite the fact that maintaining absolute strategies can make simple relative tasks more difficult. For instance, transposition of music from one key to another may prove more difficult for an individual who interprets music as a fixed sequence of absolute tones rather than relative patterns of notes. Absolute pitch possessors have been known to find it difficult to play with an orchestra that is not tuned to standard concert pitch A4 = 440 hertz (442 Hz in some countries); this may be due to a perception of pitch which is categorical rather than freely adjustable.[43]

In conclusion

I know I do not have perfect pitch. At least I am not Tone Deaf. I would say that Absolute or Perfect Pitch might be one of those unique miracles in some gifted people. When I was a kid, I can remember that my older brother could send a bottle cap spinning through the air by snapping it between his thumb and middle finger. He could also spread his fingers apart, two by two, like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. I was never able and still can’t perform either of these important functions. Some people just aren’t gifted like others!

I got him back by learning how to fly my own plane to distant towns instead of sitting in hot, congested traffic! Ha Ha Ha!

See you next time!

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Jonathan Morgan Jenkins

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tone Deafness / The Big Lie!

Dear Fellow Vocalists,

Since I have been around all styles of singing since an early age, I could not begin to count the number of times I have heard someone say they are Tone Deaf after they are asked to sing solo or in a group. I am confident that you have also heard this said about others or even yourself.

Tone Deafness may be the most misunderstood term in all of singing. It is very unfortunate that many people think they have this condition. The truth is, very few people do and the mental barrier they carry around them keeps them from even trying to sing. This result is very sad!

After training voice for over 25 years, if anybody says to me “I am Tone Deaf”, I invite them to my studio for a free assessment. The results of those who accepted my invitation is that I have only had one person that ever tested positive for tone deafness. Even he was able to make progress over a period of time. I will tell his story in this blog.

Granted, I have had a few students that had a more difficult time singing on pitch, but I have always been able resolve these problems with hard work by myself and the student.

Following is the definition for Tone Deafness and an excerpt from my revolutionary ebook, Singing and Speaking on the Edge of a Grunt, located at my web site http://www.vocaltrainingwarrior.com/.

Tone Deafness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A person who is tone deaf lacks relative pitch, the ability to discriminate between musical notes. Being tone deaf is having difficulty or being unable to correctly hear relative differences between notes; however, in common usage, it refers to a person’s inability to reproduce them accurately. The latter inability is most often caused by lack of musical training or education and not actual tone deafness.

The ability of relative pitch, as with other musical abilities, appears to be inherent in healthy functional humans. The hearing impairment appears to be genetically influenced, though it can also result from brain damage. While someone who is unable to reproduce pitches because of a lack of musical training would not be considered tone deaf in a medical sense, the term might still be used to describe them casually. Someone who cannot reproduce pitches accurately, because of lack of training or tone deafness, is said to be unable to “carry a tune.”

Tone deafness affects ability to hear pitch changes produced by a musical instrument and/or the human voice. However, tone-deaf people seem to be only disabled when it comes to music, and they can fully interpret the prosody or intonation of human speech. It has been observed that in societies with tonal languages such as Cantonese and Vietnamese, there are almost no tone deaf people; a strong indicator that the ability to reproduce and distinguish between notes may be a learned skill.

Tone-deaf people often lack a sense of musical aesthetics, and much like a colorblind person would not be apt to appreciate colorful visual art, some tone-deaf people cannot appreciate music. Tone deafness is also associated with other musical-specific impairments such as inability to keep time with music (the lack of rhythm), or the inability to remember or even recognize a song. These disabilities can appear separately but some research shows that they are more likely to appear in tone-deaf people.

Tone deafness is also known variously as amusia, tune deafness, dysmelodia and dysmusia.
1) Amusia, the medical loss of musical ability
2) Absolute pitch, the rare ability to name a musical note when played or sung
3) Relative pitch, the normal human ability to accurately discriminate pitch intervals
4) Deafness, the inability to hear sound

With Tone Deafness clearly defined, let me share with you a case study I personally encountered years ago when I was attending college. One of my many odd jobs to pay for my education was teaching private guitar lessons. I taught this one young boy who was a complete beginner on guitar. As I often did, and still do, when guitar students learn a few simple songs, I challenge them to sing and play together.

This is a great exercise for ear training and performing more complex forms of coordination. It was not long before it was apparent that he was completely unable to duplicate any pitch. Without any training to fix this problem, I experimented and figured out a strategy to help him. He and his parents wanted him to be able to sing on pitch.

Here was my strategy. I concluded, without any medical training, that the message the brain was sending to the chords was scrambled, incorrect or both. He would hear a pitch but would always sing another. His vocal chords were not being stretched to the correct location. Here was my solution. Simply, I kept repeating the same notes I wanted him to try to duplicate each lesson over a long period of time. His progress was slow but he eventually was able to get a lot closer and, then, match the pitch.

After about a year of hard work, he was able to play and sing four simple songs. Maybe that does not seem like a lot. But, trust me, it was. Again, I am not making any medical claims. I was confronted with a challenge and used logic to figure out a solution that worked. It makes sense, though, that it did work. The truth is, whenever we are learning a new physical skill, it takes a while for learning programming to be completed. In his case, it was the nerves and muscle systems that operated his voice and it just took longer to accomplish.

As you can see from this actual story, it is possible to sing on pitch. If you are one of the people who is stuck in this rut, buy my affordable ebook or find another way to get yourself checked and begin to enjoy the miracle instrument you have been given, you voice.

See you next time.

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Jonathan Morgan Jenkins

Monday, August 13, 2007

Singing / Karaoke Myths

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If you can use the restroom, I can improve your voice in one week! If you know how to go # 2, I can teach you how to sing like #1. 100% Guaranteed!

Vocal Warrior teaches Music Mixing Advice, Persuasive Speech Topics, Demonstration Speech Ideas , Vocal Training, Vocal Technique, Geriatric Voice Therapy and Audio CD mastering. Are you a Karaoke Singer? Buy equipment for your Home Recording Studio and become the next AMERICAN IDOL!

Some Vocalists with disturbed voices say "I have a Claritin Sore Throat" or "Ultrum causes sore throat" . Most vocal problems require Natural Cures! Buy my 110 Page downloadable ebook and Vocal Warrior will teach you the "Natural" way to coordinate your body to sing or speak with confidence, power, and clarity.

Do you need to make free digital mpegs, free mp3 music or purchase the best studio microphones? You can even create your own Podcast! YOU CAN BE AN AMERICAN IDOL!

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FEATURE ARTICLE / Singing/Karaoke Myths

Karaoke singer attacked in Wash. bar

Fri Aug 10, 6:05 PM ET

A woman attacked a karaoke singer belting out Coldplay on Thursday night, telling him he "sucked" before she pushed and punched him to get him to stop singing, bar staff said. The man was singing "Yellow" when it happened.

"It took three or four of us to hold her down," bartender Robert Willmette said.

When she was escorted outside, the 21-year-old woman "went crazy," Willmette said, throwing punches at him and others, including an off-duty police officer.

Patrol officers and detectives then arrived at the neighborhood bar and blocked off the street, which inflamed the woman's rage even more, a police report said. Before police could handcuff the woman, she headbutted the off-duty officer at least twice.

The off-duty officer was treated for cuts, scrapes and bruises.

After treatment for injuries, the woman was booked into the King County jail for investigation of assault. She was also held on a warrant issued for a previous theft charge.

According to bartender notes, she had only a single shot of Jagermeister.

Hello fellow Vocalists

You do not want this to happen to you! If you are singing so badly that you are inciting a riot, maybe time for some formal training.

I have been around amateur singers since the early sixties and I was one myself in the early days of the folk/rock generation. During this often socially turbulent time period the younger generation was rejecting all the norms of society and trying to create their own "Social Utopia".

There were certainly many aspects to our culture that needed a second look. Unfortunately, in the musical community, many of us also rejected the norms of formal musical training, as it was “just part of the oppressive educational culture.” Many said, “I don’t need any training. If I can play a few chords and sing with the voice I have, I can be a star.”

Sounds silly, doesn't it? Although it is certainly true that there were many successful musicians in that period that became big stars, many more could have if they had been trained. As I continue to train vocalists today, unfortunately, the same ignorant attitudes about training still exist. For our discussion here, I will focus on vocal training, as that is my main expertise. More information on my professional credentials can be found @ Vocal Warrior.

If you were to decide to play a clarinet, would you just rent or buy the instrument and think you could just take it home and begin to play it? Of course not! But, when it gets the voice weather we are Singers, Speakers or Actors, this is exactly how many approach being a Vocalist. We think we either have it or we don’t. Part of the reason for this is because our voice already functions for basic communication and we get satisfied with the status quo.

I was certainly one of these people. When I started college with a goal to teach voice and choral music, I found out real quick how much my voice lacked training. Unfortunately, I learned little from the techniques used to help me improve by my Vocal Professors. It was'nt until I began to teach real people myself that my own voice changed and I was able to help others. I learned by doing and not from some pinhead educator.

Well, back to Karaoke singers. First, I admire anybody who has the nerve to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and risk rejection when they attempt to use one of our most personal body parts to make music. But, the problem arises when someone sounds awful and thinks they sound okay.

American Idol is the first show to really set people straight about the quality of there own instrument. One of my goals with my web business, http://www.vocaltrainingwarrior.com/, is to offer revolutionary vocal training techniques to Actors, Speakers and Singers. My voice has been transformed through using my own techniques. I have taken over 26 years of teaching voice and packaged my techniques in my groundbreaking downloadable e-book, Singing and Speaking on the Edge of a Grunt.

In closing, if you want to be a successful or just a good sounding singer or speaker, you need proper training to reach your potential. Do not make the mistake of not reaching your potential. But my e-book and change your voice and your life.

Do you want 205.00 in Free Gifts?

Become a member of the Vocal Warrior Team today!

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See you next time.

Jonathan Morgan Jenkins http://www.vocaltrainingwarrior.com/

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Vocal Chord Abuse!

Increase Vocal Power 100% in One Week! Guaranteed! Learn Clear Diction Exercises, Music Mixing Advice, and Create a Famous Podcast!

If you can use the restroom, I can improve your voice in one week! If you know how to go # 2, I can teach you how to sing like #1. 100% Guaranteed!

Vocal Warrior teaches Music Mixing Advice, Persuasive Speech Topics, Demonstration Speech Ideas , Vocal Training, Vocal Technique, Geriatric Voice Therapy and Audio CD mastering. Are you a Karaoke Singer? Buy equipment for your Home Recording Studio and become the next AMERICAN IDOL!

Some Vocalists with disturbed voices say "I have a Claritin Sore Throat" or "Ultrum causes sore throat" . Most vocal problems require Natural Cures! Buy my 110 Page downloadable ebook and Vocal Warrior will teach you the "Natural" way to coordinate your body to sing or speak with confidence, power, and clarity.

Do you need to make free digital mpegs, free mp3 music or purchase the best studio microphones? You can even create your own Podcast! YOU CAN BE AN AMERICAN IDOL!

Vocal Warrior is the solution!


Vocal Chord Abuse! Don’t do it!

In my E-Book, Singing and Speaking on the Edge of a Grunt, I have a section on Vocal Chord Abuse. Here is an excerpt from my book. This subject is very important.

The Larynx or “voice box” contains our delicate little Vocal Chords. This wonderful gift must be treated with upmost respect or it may be permanently damaged. The good news is that, if we sing properly by performing the correct coordination of THE VOCAL POWER TEAM, (this is discussed in my book) our miracle instrument will last us a lifetime.

I wish to make a plea for sanity to so many young people I hear singing a style of music in which they literally “scream” the words while the band plays hard rock. The style is very “punk”.

Don’t misunderstand me. I played in many rock bands as a kid and I still enjoy firing up my electric guitar and playing loud with all the effects. I am not some judgmental “fuddy dutty.” Here is my concern. I attended high school in the late sixties, early seventies. My favorite rock bands were Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elton John, Jethro Tull, etc. All the lead singers of these groups, if you have heard them recently, have completely lost their upper ranges.

If old age was the only reason then famous singers like Luciano Pavarotti and Beverly Sills would not have been able to sing high C’s in their latter years.

What is the difference? It is proper training, which also leads to respect for the instrument. These rock legends are the people I mentioned earlier that had the naturally gifted voice and never learned how to use it properly.

Now, they have paid the price. In the cases of Elton John and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, both had to eventually endure surgery to correct the long-term problems associated with improper singing. They have never gotten back the flourishing voice they had in their youth.

let’s discuss some tips on how we can prevent Vocal Chord damage.

1) All due respect to your choice of singing style, all common styles (I am excluding the “screamers”) can be sung correctly and in a manner that does not damage the vocal chords. As discussed in my ebook, this is achieved by coordination of the Vocal Power Team: The Abdominal Muscles, the Larynx, and the Resonating Chambers in the Throat and Head.

2) Remember that “style” is produced mainly by the manipulation of the resonating chambers located in the throat and the head to produce specific “tone” changes. The amount of air flowing through the vocal chords is also a factor, but not the main one. Do your own test and try to “mimic” another persons voice and be aware of what is happening in your throat and mouth.

3) Avoid shouting or screaming for any length of time. If you do and your voice becomes sore and/or raspy, let is rest. Your vocal chords are swollen and continued use may cause damage. If you contract laryngitis, you must understand that your vocal chords are infected and swollen and that is why you lose your voice. “No use” is the only cure!

The moral of the story is: Respect your miracle instrument and it will give back to you a lifetime of enjoyment!

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Jonathan Morgan Jenkins http://www.vocaltrainingwarrior.com/