[Harp-L] Positions Modes and the Harp_L List.

Joshua Anderson joshua.caleb.anderson@xxxxx
Sat Oct 27 13:03:36 EDT 2018

Musicologist Christopher Small says that all people are born musical and most wind up being (inadvertently) being taught to be unmusical (Musicking, p210, 214), largely due to the lack of social relationships centered on music. (Small writes about the Western state of what he calls “musicking,” a term which includes every level of a musical performance from performer to parking-lot attendant and person-who-shares-a-link-about-the-event-on-social-media as each plays integral roles in shaping our experience of the musical event.) Small’s claim that all people are born musical accepts that certain people are more adept at technical (re-)production of culturally defined “good performances”. He also takes umbrage at the term “tone deaf” (p211) so, at least hypothetically, the favor is given to perfect pitch being a predominately learned skill. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, examines “extraordinary” people like Bill Gates and the sociocultural factors that contributed to them succeeding; and why other similar people failed. All in all, the easier access one has to better training and relationships early on the better that person stands to perform later in life, whether that’s computing machinery, hockey, physics, or the harmonica. 

You’re free to disagree – I wouldn’t mind at all – but I believe perfect pitch is a mixture of both nature and nurture. Most aspects of skill, thought, and personality are shaped by culture, individual experience, and response to these stimuli. We are each a bit of each other. But that’s a little too mushy for this conversation. Anyhow Small’s book Musicking, while academic, is rather down-to-earth and enjoyable if any of you are interested. One of my favorite lines is “the creation of a good piece of frivolous music, however, is serious business.”


Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Aongus Mac Cana
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2018 11:09
To: Harp-L List
Subject: [Harp-L] Positions Modes and the Harp_L List.

Michael Rubin's generous response to my dumb enquiry on the above topic and
the response of others reaffirms to me what is terrific resource this forum

Dare I raise the topics of Perfect and Relative Pitch?  

David Lucas Burge claims that these skills can be learned. 

I invested in his CD course and think that he might be right. If I could be
a bit more persistent I would know for sure.

Has anyone else established that Perfect Pitch is not just a God given gift
only bestowed on the privileged few?


Aongus Mac Cana

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