[Smt-talk] Fwd: Perfect pitch and aging

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Wed Feb 8 21:05:26 PST 2012

> I have experienced the same--regular practice gives stability to my  
> upward-wandering pitch. Perhaps over the years
> everyone, AP-possessors as well as relative-, is obliged to learn to  
> listen flexibly, making necessary adjustments
> of one sort or another and this is yet another that keeps our ears  
> perked  ; )
> Donna Doyle
> Queens College CUNY
> On Feb 8, 2012, at 10:32 PM, Candace Brower wrote:
>> In discussing this issue with other aging AP-possessors, I have  
>> never come across anyone who did not experience this. I first  
>> noticed it happening to me when I was in my late 40's.  I found it  
>> difficult to follow a score when listening to a recording because  
>> every note sounded "wrong."  Sometimes I could persuade my ear to  
>> shift downward (kind of like flipping a Necker cube or the vase-two- 
>> faces illusion), but often the revision wouldn't "stick."
>> Interestingly, my absolute pitch has reverted to near-normal over  
>> the past few years.  One thing that has changed is that I have gone  
>> back to playing the cello several hours a day. I hadn't played for  
>> over twenty years, and when I first took it up again, I found it  
>> challenging to play in tune.  But my absolute pitch now seems to be  
>> as reliable as when I was in my 20s (I am now 58). Perhaps my ear  
>> has retrained itself as a result of having to actively seek the  
>> right pitch in order to play in tune?  During my years away from  
>> the cello, I played the piano several hours a day, but that never  
>> seemed to help.
>> Candace Brower
>> retired, Northwestern University
>>> From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org
>>> [smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of  
>>> Huron, David
>>> [huron.1 at osu.edu]
>>> Sent: 07 February 2012 18:17
>>> To: SMT Talk
>>> Subject: [Smt-talk] Perfect pitch and aging
>>> It's well-known that people with perfect pitch experience an upward
>>> pitch-shift with age.  Typically, by around 55 years of age a C  
>>> sounds like
>>> a C#, and by 65 a C tends to sound like a D.
>>> I wonder if this is a universal experience or whether there are  
>>> people with
>>> perfect pitch -- older than 60 -- who have NOT experienced an  
>>> upward pitch
>>> shift.
>>> I'd appreciate people writing to me to convey their experiences  
>>> regarding
>>> age and AP.  I'll post a summary if I receive enough responses.
>>> Thanks,
>>> David Huron
>>> huron.1 at osu.edu
>>> David Huron
>>> Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor School of Music &  
>>> Center for
>>> Cognitive Science Ohio State University
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