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EAR TRAINING AND PERFECT PITCH

Tone:Linguistics - Learn why the entire population of tonal language speaking cultures have perfect pitch.
Also learn about the Absoute Time.

EVOLUTION OF PERFECT PITCH, ABSOLUTE PITCH

"Music is Langauge and Languge is Music" ~ Karen Ellis

 

Can a person be born with Perfect Pitch or born tone deaf?

TONAL LANGUAGES

Tonal languge speaking cultures have perfect pitch because their babies learn that the meaning of words depends on it's pitch.

Tone and Perfect Pitch
Babies excercise and develop perfect pitch when the brain is plastic enough to do it. There is a finite window of time when this can be done. Non Tonal Language cultures who don't depend on pitch for word meaning will not produce people with perfect pitch.

Nature Neuroscience 2007
Musical experience shapes human brainstem encoding of linguistic pitch patterns Music and speech are very cognitively demanding auditory phenomena generally attributed to cortical rather than subcortical circuitry. We examined brainstem encoding of linguistic pitch and found that musicians show more robust and faithful encoding compared with nonmusicians. These results not only implicate a common subcortical manifestation for two presumed cortical functions, but also a possible reciprocity of corticofugal speech and music tuning, providing neurophysiological explanations for musicians' higher language-learning ability.
The Mandarin word "mi" means "to squint" when delivered in a level tone, "to bewilder" when spoken in a rising tone, and "rice" when given in a falling then rising tone. The researchers recorded neural responses from the brains of volunteers during the experiments. Half the volunteers had at least six years of training in a musical instrument starting before the age of 12. The others had no more than three years of musical experience.All were native English akers who had no knowledge of Mandarin.
"Even with their attention focused on the movie, and though the sounds had no linguistic or musical meaning for them, we found our musically trained subjects were far better at tracking the three different tones than the non-musicians," said neuroscientist Patrick Wong at Northwestern University.Wong emphasized these results were seen "in more or less everyday people. You don't have to be a top musician to find these kinds of effects."

Surprisingly, the researchers found these changes occurred in the brainstem, the ancient part of the brain responsible for controlling automatic, critical body functions such as breathing and heartbeat. Music was thought largely to be the province of the cerebral cortex, where higher brain functions such as reasoning, thought and language are seated. The brainstem was thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in the complex processes linked with music.

These results show us how malleable to experience the brainstem actually is," Kraus said of the findings detailed in the April issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience. "We think music engages higher level functions in the cortex that actually tune the brainstem."

While these "gate-barring songs" are reserved mainly for tourists and official guests, the Dong song-style is a form of communication every child learns from the age of 5. "And they sing on key, on rhythm, perfectly a capella, in tune with one another," Tan says. "But Dimen's rich oral history is at risk. Only one woman can sing the hours-long story that recounts the entire story of the Dimen people and the younger generation doesn't seem interested in learning it."

Speaking Tonal Languages is responsible for Perfect Pitch 11/9/04
A new study concludes that young musicians who speak Mandarin Chinese can learn to identify isolated musical notes much better than English speakers can. Fewer than one American in 10,000 has absolute pitch, which means they can identify or produce a note without reference to any other note. Also called perfect pitch, this skill requires distinguishing sounds that differ by just 6 percent in frequency. Five years ago researchers led by Diana Deutsch of the University of California at San Diego found that native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese frequently match this level of precision during ordinary speech. In these so-called tonal languages, changing pitch can completely alter the meaning of words. For example, the Mandarin word "ma" means "mother" when the vowel is a constant high pitch, but means "hemp" when pronounced with a rising pitch. Until now, it was not known whether this precision in linguistic pitch transferred to musical tones. To address this question, Deutsch and her colleagues compared 115 advanced music students from Rochester, New York, with 88 students from Beijing. In results to be presented at the meeting of the Acoustical Society. f America in San Diego on November 17, the scientists found that the Mandarin speakers were much more likely to have absolute pitch than were English speakers who had started musical training at the same age. For example, 60 percent of Beijing students who had begun studying music between the ages of four and five years old passed a test for absolute pitch, whereas only 14 percent of the American students did. In both groups, students who started their musical instruction later were less likely to have absolute pitch, and none of the Rochester students that began training after their eighth birthday had the ability.
Deutsch suggests that for students who speak a tonal language, acquiring absolute pitch is like learning a second language, which becomes much more difficult after a “critical period” of development. For students who speak a nontonal language such as English, however, absolute pitch is more like a first language, for which the critical period occurs at a much younger age. One limitation of the study was that all of the Mandarin speakers from the Chinese institute were also ethnically Chinese, so genetic differences could explain some of the effect. --Don Monroe

Mandarin, a tone (tonal) language.
In tone languages, a single word can differ in meaning depending on pitch patterns called "tones." For example, the Mandarin word "mi" delivered in a level tone means "to squint," in a rising tone means "to bewilder," and in a dipping (falling then rising) tone means "rice." English, on the other hand, only uses pitch to reflect intonation (as when rising pitch is used in questions).
The relationship between the brainstem -- a lower order brain structure thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in complex processing -- and the neocortex, a higher order brain structure associated with music, language and other complex processing. The findings also are consistent with studies by Kraus and her research team that have revealed anomalies in brainstem sound encoding in some children with learning disabilities which can be improved by auditory training.

Chinese: the first clear correlation between language and genetic variation.

Perfect Pitch in Tone Language Speakers Carries Over to Music: Potential for Acquiring the Coveted Musical Ability May be Universal at Birth Our new results follow up on a 1999 study, in which some of us made a startling discovery while exploring the realm of language rather than music.  The 1999 study tested native speakers of two tone languages, Mandarin and Vietnamese.  In tone languages, words get their meaning in part from the pitches in which the vowels are pronounced. (In Mandarin, for example, the word "ma" means "mother" when spoken in the first tone, "hemp" in the second tone, "horse" in the third tone and a reproach in the fourth tone.) The study found that Mandarin and Vietnamese speakers displayed a remarkably precise and stable form of absolute pitch in reciting lists of words. Based on these findings, we proposed that absolute pitch originated in human history as a feature of speech.  We further proposed that tone language speakers naturally acquire this feature in the first year of life, during the period in which infants acquire other features of their native language .  On this line of reasoning, absolute pitch for music might then be acquired by tone language speakers in the same way as they would acquire the pitches of a second tone language. We might therefore expect to find a much higher prevalence of absolute pitch for music among tone language speakers than among speakers of nontone languages such as English.

Listen to the Pitch change when teaching a word. It goes high at the end of the sentence and the other person trys to match that pitch.

 

 

SCALES ARE BASED ON CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS

 

Perfect Pitch,
Ear training, Absolute Pitch, Testing for Pitch,
and Absolute Time

Resonation communicates the message they "hear"

 

All languages use intonation to express emphasis, emotion, or other such nuances, but not every language uses tone to distinguish meaning outright. When this occurs, tones are equally important and essential as phonemes (discrete sounds, for example, /t/, or /d/), and they are referred to as tonemes. Languages that make use of tonemes are called tonal languages. The majority of languages in the world are tonal languages.

High notes
really are High


The tone deaf have poor spatial skills; trained musicians good ones.


Perception of pitch and spatial orientation are linked. Nature

The way that people talk about 'high' and 'low' notes makes it sound as though musical pitch has something to do with physical location. Now it seems there may be a reason for this: the same bit of our brain could control both our understanding of pitch and spatial orientation. The result comes from a study of tone-deaf people also known as 'amusics' which shows that they have poorer spatial skills than those who have no problem distinguishing between two musical notes.
Amusics are unable to tell whether a particular musical note is higher or lower than another. The condition has puzzled neuroscientists, because the way in which the brains of amusics process auditory information seems to be no different from normal.
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand were keen to investigate. David Bilkey and his student Katie Douglas (who, as a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir, is particularly interested in how the brain processes music) had noticed that music is often described using spatial references, such as 'high' and 'low' notes with higher notes literally sitting higher on a stave. The same is true in many different languages. So they decided to test the spatial skills of amusic people.
"The question was whether the relationship was just a metaphor or something more than that," says Bilkey.
He and Douglas asked volunteers to mentally rotate an object, and click on a picture of how it would look when rotated. Amusic subjects made more than twice as many errors than either of the two control groups one made up of musicians, the other a group with little musical training. The results are reported in Nature Neuroscience1.
"We were really surprised. The hypothesis that spatial processing was the underlying problem was a long shot," Bilkey says. Most studies of amusia have focused on pitch processing as the fundamental deficit, says Tim Griffiths, a neurologist at Newcastle University in the UK.
In chorus The researchers went on to see if their volunteers could perform both tasks pitch discrimination and object rotation at the same time. The control groups found this hard, and took much longer to mentally rotate objects when they also had to discriminate between two notes. This is presumably because the tasks interfered with each other. "One possibility is that pitch is encoded in parts of the brain that also encode spatial information," suggests Bilkey. This would increase the workload for these brain regions in normal people, slowing them down. But amusic subjects were much less affected by having to do these tasks simultaneously. Because they were pretty much unable to tell the musical notes apart, their brain was free to work on the spatial task. One brain region that might be doing the work is an area in the parietal lobe called the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), says Bilkey, which is known to be involved in processing music, spatial information and numbers.
Space training Given the relationship between amusia and spatial skill, does this mean that improving one might boost the other? The researchers don't yet know. It has been previously shown that people with many years of musical training are better at spatial tasks, Bilkey says. But it's not clear how this relationship works, or what causes what. So it's unknown whether wannabe musicians would benefit from rotating shapes in their heads. Or whether amusic people would benefit from spatial skills training. Griffiths has met many amusics, and is sceptical. "I'm not sure if auditory training would help people, let alone spatial training," he says.

 

EAR HEALTH

 

 

EAR HEALTH - Why we are losing our hearing?

TELLING SHARP FROM FLAT IS IN THE GENES
Tones: Researchers resolve longtime debate over perfect pitch, declaring it is innate, not learned.
By Frank D. Roylance Sun Staff April 28, 2003
http://www.sunspot.net/news/printedition/bal-te.pitch28apr28,0,1822606.story?coll=bal%2Dpe%2Dasection
As few as one person in 10,000 has perfect pitch, perhaps one in 10 in the best music schools. "Perfect pitch." Sometimes called "absolute pitch," it is the ability to recognize and name a musical tone without reference to any other note. A Yale researcher claims to have settled the argument, using the first test ever devised to identify people with perfect pitch even if they have never laid eyes on a page of music or played a note. Acoustical Society of America, David A. Ross, an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at Yale's medical school, says "We clearly have data that says true absolute pitch is ... independent of someone's musical training. These people are born with this skill." " . . .people with absolute pitch hear tones in a different light," Ross said. "Tones have a salience for them ... an identity that is not necessarily linked to a musical identity."

Melody gene 'is the key to music ability'
By David Derbyshire Science 9/3/01
MUSICAL ability is mostly inherited from parents and owes little to upbringing, a study of twins suggests. Musical heritage: the Gallagher brothers The discovery helps to explain why there are so many musical families, from the Strauss and Bach dynasties to the Jacksons, The Corrs and the Gallagher brothers. The scientists behind the study believe that the genetic influence is so strong that music lessons are unlikely to turn a tone deaf child into a budding Mozart. The findings, published in Science, come from a study of 568 British twin sisters by a team of British and American researchers. Around one in 20 people is completely tone deaf, while one in four has problems recognising tunes. Scientists and teachers have tended to assume that musical talent is mostly influenced by upbringing and that playing music to babies and children can increase their chances of being musical.

THIS TINY BRAIN REGION
is critical to the golden musical gift of perfect pitch—the rare ability to recognize by ear a perfect middle C hit on the piano, or the E of a passing car horn. Perhaps most basic, researchers have discovered that music — like language — stimulates many areas in the brain, including regions normally involved in other kinds of thinking. For this reason, Mark Jude Tramo of the Harvard Medical School argues in a recent issue of Science that the brain doesn't have a specific "music center," as others have suggested. As an example, he points to the left planum temporale. But the left planum temporale also plays an important role in language processing. Thus, Tramo writes, there is "no grossly identifiable brain structure that works solely during music cognition. However, distinctive patterns of neural activity within the auditory cortex and other areas of the brain may imbue specificity to the processing of music."

Synesthesia

 

Synesthesia
providing valuable clues to understanding the organization and functions of the human brain when the senses--touch, taste, hearing, vision and smell--get mixed up instead of remaining separate. Synesthesia is an involuntary joining in which the real information of one sense is accompanied by a perception in another sense. Modern scientists have known about synesthesia since 1880, when Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, published a paper in Nature on the phenomenon. But most have brushed it aside as fakery, an artifact of drug use (LSD and mescaline can produce similar effects) or a mere curiosity. About four years ago, however, we and others began to uncover brain processes that could account for synesthesia. Along the way, we also found new clues to some of the most mysterious aspects of the human mind, such as the emergence of abstract thought, metaphor and perhaps even language.

 

Williams Syndrome

 

 

People with Williams Syndrome more likely to have perfect pitch July 26, 2001
UC Irvine study reveals new characteristics for music and language acquisition Individuals with Williams syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental condition marked by low IQ and physical impairment, are more likely than the general population to have perfect pitch, a UC Irvine study has found. In addition, people with this condition appear to have a greater larger window of time for developing this musical ability, differing significantly from the general population, which can only develop absolute pitch, also known as perfect pitch, through musical training during early childhood.

Williams Syndrome, the brain and music

Nature Reviews Neuroscience 7, 380-393 (May 2006)
Neural mechanisms in Williams syndrome: a unique window to genetic influences on cognition and behaviour.
Williams syndrome, a rare disorder caused by hemizygous microdeletion of about 28 genes on chromosome 7q11.23, has long intrigued neuroscientists with its unique combination of striking behavioural abnormalities, such as hypersociability, and characteristic neurocognitive profile. Williams syndrome, therefore, raises fundamental questions about the neural mechanisms of social behaviour, the modularity of mind and brain development, and provides a privileged setting to understand genetic influences on complex brain functions in a 'bottom-up' way. We review recent advances in uncovering the functional and structural neural substrates of Williams syndrome that provide an emerging understanding of how these are related to dissociable genetic contributions characterized both in special participant populations and animal models.
In a pilot study of five individuals with Williams syndrome, Howard M. Lenhoff, professor emeritus of biology, and his colleagues at UCI have found that their test subjects possess near ceiling levels of absolute pitch despite limited cognitive abilities. The study also provides further information on the neurological mechanisms involved in music and language acquisition. Their findings appear in the summer issue of the journal Music Perception.
Some 4,500 individuals in the United States and Canada have Williams syndrome. People with this rare condition are born lacking about 20 genes in Chromosome 7. In spite of cognitive and physical defects, Williams people show particular strength in using language and developing advanced musical abilities such as absolute pitch, which is the capacity to recognize, name and produce the pitch of a musical note.
"Our findings expand on the fact that a small number of genes can affect a large number of characteristics that define a specific population of individuals," Lenhoff said.
Roughly one in 10,000 people in Western populations have the ability to develop absolute pitch. Studies also show that this acumen only develops through childhood musical training between the ages of 3 and 6.
In his study, Lenhoff tested five individuals participating in a music camp for people with Williams syndrome. All five had varying levels of musical skills, and their ages ranged between 13 and 43 with an average IQ of 58. Only one had received musical training between the ages of 3 and 6, and none could read music. In more than 1,000 trial tests for identifying single notes, natural notes and the notes in harmonic dyads and triads, the group scored near ceiling levels (97.5 percent) of absolute pitch.
None of the test subjects were known to possess absolute pitch. The fact that all five did indicates that the percentage of Williams people with this ability surpasses that of the general population by at least tenfold. Lenhoff estimates that as many 30 percent of Williams people may have the ability to develop absolute pitch.
"In addition, since four out of five of these subjects received their musical training after the age of 6, it appears that the window of opportunity for Williams people to develop absolute pitch can extend into adulthood and perhaps indefinitely," Lenhoff said. "Because of this, studies with people having Williams syndrome should make it possible to develop new ways of exploring the neurological mechanisms fostering music and language acquisition in the human brain."
It is the current view of a number of cognitive scientists that the ability of absolute pitch helps young children master languages, especially multi-tonal ones such as Vietnamese and Mandarin.

SYNC SENSE

PERFECT TIME

RHYTHMIC RESEARCHERS

Rhythmic Synchrony governs conversation, and is part of life from infancy to old age.
Tempos may vary from culture to culture and person to person but folks who successfully relate manage to stay in sync. Rhythmic Researchers study the internal mechanisms which govern social rhythms and show that "sync sense" plays a major part in our ability to talk, work, and may also play a part in easing racial tensions.

Interdisciplinary Social Rhythm Researchers

Timing (linguistics) - In linguistics, the timing in a language comprises the rhythmic qualities of speech, in particular how syllables are distributed across time. There are two basic ways to assign time units (or beats) to words: stress timing and syllable timing.

PERFECT TIME: Perfect appreciation of passing time without knowledge of or access to a clock face; Astonishing musical ability, superior spatial sense and remarkable memory. Her sense rhythm is pervasive. She is driven by time as if a digital clock is incessantly running in her head. Superior spatial sense. From the very beginning she was aware of large objects, wall, fences and buildings from a distance of 6 feet or more and insisted on going to them and touching them. Her father noted that from those early years on she has been able to walk in thick, strange forests without running into trees. As Ellen learned to navigate she made a constant little chirping sound, like her own form of personal radar.

Victor Grauer says, Perfect time can be even more uncanny than "perfect" pitch. Rumor has it that Eugene Ormandy was always able to produce exact tempi without reference to a metronome. Even stranger (far stranger) is the rumor that he was always able to tell exactly what time it was without referring to a timepiece. The existence of such an innate time sense seems far fetched, but is confirmed in the latest issue of Scientific American, where the ability of an individual with "Savant Syndrome" to do just this (to within a second!!!) is reported.

Savant Skills

 

Savant Skills Occur in an exceedingly narrow range of abilities, which is remarkable considering all the abilities in the human repertoire. They include Music, usually performing, most often piano, with perfect pitch although composing in the absence of performing has been reported; art, usually drawing, painting or sculpting; calendar calculating (an obscure skill in most non-disabled persons); mathematics including lightning calculating or ability to compute prime numbers, for example, typically without other simple arithmetic skills such as multiplication or addition; and mechanical or spatial skills. Some other special skills have been reported including prodigious language facility (polyglot savant); map memorizing; unusual sensory discrimination abilities in smell, touch or vision;

Odor Discrimination Linked To Timing At Which Neurons Fire
This is the first time we have seen reliable timing of firing. It turns out that cells are better at clocking their firing than previously thought.

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