Absolute pitch, Paul McCartney and girls screaming

By | November 8, 2008

While I was listening to the video below of a young Paul McCartney of the Beatles singing Yesterday, I had my free Windows AP Guitar tuner program running and I noticed something amazing.

I was watching the tuner as he was singing, “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.” When he hits the word “far” he hits a perfect “E” note, just freakin’ completely dead on. What was amazing to me is that this seemed to be what triggered some girls to scream.


Do we biologically just know when someone nails a perfect note?  Jason Mraz, who has perfect absolute pitch, also makes audiences freak out when he hits certain notes.

After a show I played with Jason in Sacramento once, he came outside and sang a bit of one of my songs he liked to me. I’m fairly accurate, but he just sounded so much better.  I didn’t know why, seven years ago, but now I understand.

He wasn’t just singing my “Fear of Success” song with the notes all the correct distance from each other (perfect relative pitch), he was singing from memory, with no instrument, perfectly in tune, with absolute pitch. He reproduced my song back to me with the pitches corrected.  I knew he was doing something amazing but I didn’t know what.  ( I said, “I wish I could sing like you.” He said, “I wish I could think like you.” Cool moment. ) It was a great gift to be shown that there is a “next level” I can work for.

So, I’m still working on it. I’ve gotten to the point were 90% of the time, I can accurately find Middle C out of the blue by singing “Hey Jude”, and I’m on an incredible high about this!

As I said in my previous posts, I learned to find Middle C by keeping the first two notes to Hey Jude in the memo pad of my cell phone, testing myself at random times during the day, and when I’m wrong, by comparing the feeling of the right and wrong notes. After a while, the right note is just there, and you can recall it at will.

Today I decided to add Yesterday to the mix. The first two notes are “G” and “F”. So, if you sing, “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad” the word “bad” in Jude is the same G note as the word “Yes” in “Yesterday”.

Using some well known songs, I want to get the point where I recognize that a “G” is always a “G” no matter what the song. I hope this will lead to an ability to hear any note and recognize what it is (pitch recognition as well as pitch recall).

Perfect Pitch EXERCISE 2.

Here are some intros to well known songs. Sing them and work on hearing the notes they have in common.

C4  A3    A3    C4    D4  G3
Hey Jude, don't make, it  bad. 

C4  C4     C#4  G#3
Mi- chelle my  belle

G#3  A3    B3  B3    A3  G#3 F#   G#3 A3 A3
What would you think if  I   sang out a  tune

G3  G3 G3   G3      B3 B3    A3
Im- a- gine there's no heav- en.

A3       B3  C4  B3 A3    B3
There's  a   La- dy who's sure  (Stairway to Heaven)

B3 D4  B3  E4   B3  D4  E4 B3
I read the news to -day oh boy

B3   C#4  Eb4   C#4   B3  G3 B3  G3
Pen- ny   lane  there is  a bar ber 

G3  F3 F3   A3   B3  C#4   D4   E4     F4  E4  D4
Yes-terday, all  my  trou- bles seemed so  far away.

G3   G3 G3   G3 A3-E3 E3  G3    G3 C4   D4
When I  find my self  in  times of trou-ble (Let it Be)

G#3   G#4   G4 Eb4  F4  G4   G#4
Some- where o- ver  the rain bow 

C#4  C#4   C#4 C#4  C#4 C#4 C4    B3 B3      B3  B3
Some thing in  the  way she moves a- ttracts me like

About the numbers: The 4th C on the piano is called C4 or middle C. An A3 is 220Hz, A4 is 440Hz.

I’m finding that when I started learning new notes, I lost the Middle C recall, so I have to build that back up again.

4 thoughts on “Absolute pitch, Paul McCartney and girls screaming

  1. Pingback: Perfect Pitch Pill? « Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

  2. Adam

    Very interesting. I’ve been trying to analyse some Beatles songs according to the point in the chord sequence that the girls scream at. Never thought that they might also be screaming at single notes though.

  3. Harold

    I think eventually by memory you can develop perfect pitch. But I know guys just born with it…..so much easier that way. I’ve definitely learned in many cases to recognize by sound guitar chords. But it seems to depend upon the timbre or quality of the sound. I’ve been able by God’s gift to recognize piano notes.

    Main thing in music: Enjoy! Forget about who has what innate skill or whatever. Play all day!


  4. Kym Chaffin

    John Lennon told his family he always tuned the G string of his guitar slightly flat and that way he could always pick himself out on any recording. I realized that was so far beyond my capabilities as to be ridiculous. Once on the net I told some “professional musician” this story and it made him angry. Of course, these guys were just born with this. Lennon’s dad was a “bum” but before that they were a long line of English song-and-dance men. McCartney’s dad, of course, was a very good musician who taught him to sing harmony and (my theory is) taught him a kind of hands-on music theory. Ok, I’m done.

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