On absolute pitch, and the disaggregation of chords

Adam Ockelford

in Applied Musicology

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199607631
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191747687 | DOI:
On absolute pitch, and the disaggregation of chords

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Many young people who are blind or on the autism spectrum have highly developed pitch-processing abilities, among which is the capacity to ‘disaggregate’ chords—to identify their individual tonal components. This ability is striking as it is so far removed from the norm: most musicians struggle to say how many notes there are in a chord if the number rises above three. The matter of chordal disaggregation is of interest to music educators (it is taken to be an important element of musicality as well as a fair means of assessing it) and it has intermittently engaged the interest of music psychologists too. However, little attention has been paid to the strategies that listeners may bring to bear in undertaking the task. This chapter analyzes the performance of two musical savants and a skilled jazz musician with absolute pitch in disaggregating chords ranging from four to nine notes.

Keywords: absolute pitch; chordal disaggregation; zygonic theory; musical savant; blind; autistic; pitch perception

Chapter.  17304 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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