TRC #353: Perfect Pitch + Name That: Weather & Climate Edition + Is July 4 Really Independence Day?

mozart (1)The whole gang is back to deliver another fun-filled show! Cristina rings in with a segment about Perfect Pitch and a recent study that looks at whether the ability can be learned by adults. Pat challenges the panel’s knowledge of Weather & Climate with an informative game of Name That.  Last but not least, Darren breaks down the timeline surrounding the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence.

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Perfect Pitch

Huff Post: Acquiring ‘Perfect’ Pitch Is Possible For Some Adults, Scientists Say

PubMed: Absolute Pitch

NY Times: Perfect Pitch: A Gift of Note For Just a Few

UChicago News: Acquiring ‘perfect’ pitch may be possible for some adults

Science Direct: Auditory working memory predicts individual differences in absolute pitch learning

Psychological Science: Absolute Pitch May Not Be So Absolute

Mental Floss: 10 People with perfect pitch

Wiki: Cent (Music)

Wiki: Octave

Wiki: Absolute Pitch

Dictionary: Relative Pitch

American Psychological Association: Most people show elements of absolute pitch

UChicago Absolute Pitch YouTube Video

YouTube: Autistic Man with Perfect Pitch

Name That: Weather & Climate Edition

UCAR: The Stratosphere

El Nino Info

Wikipedia: Weather Records

Nat Geo: Typhoons, Hurricanes, Cyclones

Wikipedia: Iran Blizzard of 1972

EIA:  How Much CO2 Per Gallon of Gas

Wikipedia: Cumulonimbus Clouds

Is July 4 Really Independence Day?

American Revolution

Independence Day  

Treaty of Paris  


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4 Responses to TRC #353: Perfect Pitch + Name That: Weather & Climate Edition + Is July 4 Really Independence Day?

  1. I wasn’t going to write in but there were two errors in one Name That answer!
    2.54cm in an inch (not 2.2)
    1042in/26000mm is 26m, not 260. Those poor people didn’t get 2 feet of rain per day!

  2. Good segment on perfect pitch. However, one thing has bugged me ever since I first heard about the concept on the old “Donna Reed” TV show–in which it is discovered that young “Jeff” has the gift. It seems that Jeff, without any prior musical knowledge, is able to identify the exact notes of anything he hears, from the doorbell to…well, whatever. Throughout the episode, he calls out “C sharp” etc., without any prior notational training. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was just a TV shortcut or whether the gift included some a priori knowledge of what the tones were called.

    The problem is: How does Jeff know that a certain sound is a middle C, or A, of B-flat? Wouldn’t he have had to study up on the nomenclature first?

    So too with your podcast segment. You make the case that a PP person (PPP) has the gift of identifying the notes (not necessarily emit them)…but wouldn’t the person have to learn the musical notation system first?

    For example, if a person was born mute, or became mute early in childhood, or was completely illiterate, would not that person still be able to have perfect pitch?

    If so, this would indicate that PP is not the ability to name the notes but the ability to identify particular pitches perfectly (without necessarily being able to name them in the conventional way.)

    Kudos to Christine and Pat for double-teaming this.

    • Pat says:

      Interesting points, Jim.

      If we take the discussion of synesthesia on the podcast: I’ve read that F# may be, for example, “orange” to someone. This suggests to me that the tone can be identified, independent of a reference point, and without having knowledge of what to call it musically.

      That said, I agree PP is largely discussed in terms of being able to name the notes and this would require some knowledge of music notation or at least the knowledge that orange (or whatever) = F#.

  3. -DeeT says:

    The segment on perfect pitch is very interesting. One thing you didn’t mention is whether the experiments controlled for the character of notes on the instruments themselves as opposed to an abstract notion of pitch. A person with absolute pitch should be able to identify notes from a laboratory signal generator. Real instruments have little quirks: sympathetic vibrations of strings, fret buzz, different leverage on black keys vs. white keys, unintentional mechanical resonances, etc. If participants are played samples from real instruments, it may or may not be the pitch alone that makes it possible to identify the correct note later. Participants would not need to intentionally “cheat” to exploit such subtle cues.

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