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Re: Pitch Memory

Don Hill wrote:
> A personal anecdote: One of the ditty's required a key-pitch prompt
> before my big solo.  During the opening night performance, I didn't
> wait for the prompt and launched into the song.  To the accompanist's
> amazement, I was in perfect pitch - the piano and chorus joined in
> without a bump.

While I will not generalize to the problem of perfect/approximate pitch
at ball games (since we know most sports fanatics are pathological), I
would add some personal experience to Don Hill's anecdote and speculate
on possible generalization to normal populations. In college, I
participated in a study which attempted to teach "perfect pitch", albeit
one note at a time. My note was C. We were required to hum and sing our
pitch, as well as listen. I actually got very good at it.

Even these many years later, I can within a semi-tone of C (and from
there to any relative pitch).  However, I attribute much of my residual
acquired pitch to "motor memory." That is, I know how it feels to sing a
C, especially in relation to the comfortable end-points of my vocal
range. I would (at partially) explain Don's remarkable performance in
terms of motor memory as well. Speculation: Perhaps the apparent pitch
memory of ordinary folks (e.g., Happy Birthday, Na na na, etc.) can be
similarly attributed.

Further speculative question: Would the pitch identification of people
with perfect pitch be effected by simultaneous co-articulation (i.e.,
somehow interfering with reconstructive motor memory?).

To a certain degree, this speculation smacks of the motor theory of
speech recognition. Perhaps someone sager than I can point out relevant

        -Peter "2B, not 2C" Marvit

: Peter Marvit <marvit@psych.upenn.edu>,   Psychology Dept,  Univ. of Penn :
: 3815 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104  w:215/573-3991 fax:215/898-7301 :