Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 1, Middle C

By | October 27, 2009

Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 1, Middle C.
Learn to hear Middle C in relation to music in other keys.

It starts very simple then gets more complicated. Listening to this free music-only music lesson will make you 3% smarter. 😉

Lesson1MiddleCI’ve once again been wondering if I missed the boat by not being taught to recognize musical note names when I was 2 to 3 years old (some research says that’s the time to do it).

If we can learn as adults to have absolute pitch, it seems we should learn in the same way we learn the names of colors as kids… by playing.

I can hear a “C” note and sing it back several minutes later, but if listen to some music in another key, forget it. The note memory gets erased. Why should I no longer recognize blue after seeing something red?

That got me thinking…  we learn colors by comparing them to eachother… mixing them, painting with them … perhaps I could create a series of compositions that compare notes … show a note, and then gradually hide it in other notes. “Hide and seek” and peek-a-book fascinate kids for a good reason: they help our brains learn quickly.

Kids do this with colored pens. Color with one, then put it away for a while… then bring it back. This might be a way to learn to still recall a “C” any time at all.

I really don’t want to work too hard at this. It should be fun. I just want to wake up one day and be able to recognize any notes I hear by name.

See that crazy sheet music? Believe it or not, that’s part of the actual score I wrote played and recorded today for:  “Lesson 1 – Middle C“. Download it or listen here for free (20 MB MP3).

All you have to do is listen once a day and the song will program your brain.  It works by slowly embedding C notes from an 88 key concert piano into somewhat random compositions in various keys. There are many different tricks in this song.

Your brain hears all of this and forms new connections, new associations. The idea is to fix the C in once place in comparison to other keys. This is not something you typically hear in modern western music. Most songs are in a key. It is if we are never shown red and blue at the same time, so we never figure out how they relate.

My hypothesis is that listening to this lesson will help people internalize the C note and thus be able to remember it longer.  Let me know if it helps you.

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5 thoughts on “Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 1, Middle C

  1. Pingback: Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 2, Middle C in the context of other keys « Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

  2. Joseph

    I think you need to do this for all 12 pitches and listen to each song so that your brain can know what note is what and what note isn’t.

  3. Cavernio

    Comment more on your first paragraph than anything else.

    I too wish I had learned much about music when I was younger, and I strongly suspect that musical abilities like perfect pitch are something that a child learns at a very young age. That said, I don’t mind so much that I don’t have perfect pitch, but that I can’t look at a piece of music and hear how it sounds, even on a relative level. I can do it somewhat, but it’s not automatic whatsoever. It takes a lot of work, and this is something my harmony teacher didn’t seem to understand. How could I have made it so far studying music and look at a sheet of music and have it be almost meaningless until I actually play it?
    Recently, I found out one of my music teaching cousins can’t remember a time when they couldn’t ‘read’ music in such a way. It was automatic to her.
    Now, her sister is also an amazing musician who happens to have perfect pitch. She also happened to learn how to read when she was 2 or 3. Read read, not just ‘See Jane run’. Her mom always tells the story of her reading medical textbooks and then explaining things in them to her. The funny thing is though, she’s an absolutely terrible speller.
    I’ve always considered that the early reading cousin learned to read language just like most kids learn to speak a language; fairly automatically, and probably using the same sort of brain activity and organization. I’ve thought it to be the same with how her sister picked up on being able to hear notes on a page, such that reading music is like learning a language, and is also how my cousin learned perfect pitch.

    I’ve never thought about not knowing what middle C is as ‘forgetting’ what it is, but rather that it might actually be detrimental for our brains to organize in such a way as to always know what middle C is. But clearly this isn’t the case, since there exist people who have both absolute and relative pitch. But now that you say it, forgetting seems like a really good word to use. Songs sound good because we compare each note we hear to the most recent previous notes. If our brains didn’t do this, then music wouldn’t be what it is. Everything we hear in music is compared to the previous sounds we hear; that’s the only way music holds meaning. And to think about how humans may have possibly liked music at all, music and language is inextricably linked, no matter what came to be first. And so I think listening to music is like grammar. Sure we know what the word ‘she’ means, but outside of context ‘she’ is meaningless because it changes all the time. Only Proper Nouns hold the same meaning across language. But I can’t think of an analgue for Proper Pitch, so it seems there would be no reason to learn it.
    hmmm, I guess not even that’s quite true because we do only have 12 notes before we hear the same note again.
    Just me musing.

    I’ve never thought about comparing sounds to colors before though. It’s an interesting analogy to be sure, although I’m not sure I agree with it. I guess we’ll see if your music helps people learn perfect pitch though!

  4. PG

    Nice hypothesis, and interesting composition, but … did it actually enable you, or anyone else, to internalize middle C?

    I played fiddle for quite a while, with a lot of emphasis on learning by ear – though I also didn’t have a lot of music training as a child, and never got that good at it. But, I could pull out a 440 A at least 50% of the time – that’s the note we always tune to.

    1. Anonymous Post author

      I don’t know what eventually worked, but I can now find middle C out of the blue now about 90% of the time, and from there the rest of the notes. When I’m wrong, I choose one or two notes higher, never between notes. You can test yourself by recording what you think middle C is once per hour, then checking your recordings against a pitch analyzer later. So, I accomplished that goal, but I still do not recognize middle C when I hear it, so being able to sing it and recognize it don’t necessarily go together.

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