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Perfect Pitch Implants

Skull implants that vibrate on musical pitches
  (+8, -3)
(+8, -3)
  [vote for,

This is a device that helps you hit the exact right pitch of notes.

It's a small tiny implant of some crystal or something that will vibrate when exposed to sound of a certain frequency. These small implants will be placed under you skin on the round part of your skull somewhere. They could even be screwed in.

When you use your voice, the sound resonates throughout your entire cranium. The right crystal will vibrate when you hit the right frequency. For instance 440 Hz for middle C or whatever.

Each different note would require a different implant. They should be tiny, perhaps the size of a pinhead -- that way it will feel like a little tingle when you hit the note properly.

You wouldn't need 88 different implants -- just maybe 12. Each one will vibrate also on octaves below and above -- just not as strongly. But they do still help you get the note right. When you are hitting a wrong note, or slightly off, no crystals will vibrate. When you hit the note exactly, it will ring. After a while of practicing, you should be able to hit the note exactly.

lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

Human voice spectograph http://voicecenter....PhotoVoicePrint.jpg
See how the human voice is discrete, not messy [lawpoop, Jan 17 2006]

Another spectrograph http://skeptictank....ks/4/matt-voice.jpg
Yet another spectrograph [lawpoop, Jan 17 2006]

Well, you won't get there this way... Spray-on_20Implants
[normzone, Jul 03 2011]

The pentatonic scale at work http://vimeo.com/5732745
[FlyingToaster, Jul 05 2011]

Choral Humour http://www.sad60.k1...Chorus%20Humor.html
[FlyingToaster, Jul 05 2011]


       sounds good.
neilp, Jan 17 2006

       This might work in or as a tooth.   

       [2] Only as a tooth? Why not an under-the-skin implant, esp. if it's screwed into the bone?
lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

       If the human voice were a perfect sinewave, I'd be tempted to go along with this. As I understand it, the human voice can be pretty messy, waveform-wise. Seems to me that there could be a component of the sung note that resonates an implant, even if that's not the strongest frequency component of the voice.   

       Just a thought. Anyone more expert than me might easily refute that thought. When I say "anyone more expert", I'm including nearly the entire population of the planet.
half, Jan 17 2006

       [half] I'm no expert, and you are right that the human voice is all over the place, but it is all harmonics of your fundamental pitch. So as long as you get the fundamental pitch right, any of the harmonics in your voice will cause the properly tuned crystal to vibrate.   

       So if you're singing too sharp, all of the harmonics are going to be too sharp. However, if you are on pitch, all of the harmonics are going to be on pitch.   

       Think of it this way -- if the human voice really were all over the place, nobody would be able to sing notes.   

       I'm not 100% certain anyway, hopefully a self-proclaimed expert will 'chime in'. Ha, ha.
lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

       Fooling around with an oscilloscope in freshman physics, my lab partner and I proved that the voiceis messy. She prided herself on her voice: it was good. She could not produce a wave. I could easily whistle a wave, though. So while this invention might not help with singing, it could cut down on tuneless whistling.
bungston, Jan 17 2006

       if you do it right, you can remove the left hemisphere and replace it with a step series of chambers that ressonate at the desired pitch.
Armani, Jan 17 2006

       Sure, but what happens when you finally learn to sing on key? You are stuck with an annoying buzz whenever you sing OR listen to music! If the implants/teeth/whatever were externally removable, no problem, though.
roleohibachi, Jan 17 2006

       There was some dufus on daytime TV who had little screwholes implanted in his skull. When he wanted to impress the Goth chicks, he could screw in metal spikes. That same principle could be used to implant real, full length tuning forks. No magic crystals - off the shelf tuning forks will work fine.   

       I envision a crest, like a Romain centurion.
bungston, Jan 17 2006

       Hah. That gave me a mental image of Pinhead from the hellraiser movies in a musical.
"The hells are alive, with the sound of music."

       [lawpoop], I guess it's just because I'm not into body modification but I do have a filling or two.   

       [2] I imagine that this things could be very small, perhaps the size of a pin head. If they were that small, then you could have them implanted under your skin with a very small incision, and they would hardly leave a bump.   

       If you do in under your hair, nobody would notice.   

       The only problem I see is that they may travel under the skin. I think they would have to be in contact with the skull in order to work. I don't know if the skin is taught enough to keep them in contact.
lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

       Thought this was maybe an idea to create breasts from highly refined tar.
coprocephalous, Jan 17 2006

       [bungston] The human voice is messy, but they are all harmonics of the fundamental tone. If you look at a spectrograph you will see this.   

       So as long as you hit the pitch, the crystals will vibrate. If you hit a harmonic, the crystal will vibrate, but not as strongly. And if your voice is out of the frequency response range of the crystal, it won't vibrate, and none of your harmonics will cause it to vibrate either.   

       Think about this: If the human voice really is messy like you are indicating, singers couldn't hit notes regardless of whatever implants they had in their head.   

       The human voice is not continuous -- it is discrete. And all the strong areas are harmonics of the fundamental pitch.
lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

       [roleo] These implants would only buzz when you are singing, not when you are listening to music.   

       If the music is strong enough to vibrate your skull, these implants will be your only source of hearing from thereafter.
lawpoop, Jan 17 2006

       440 HZ is an A, but I like it anyway--bun.
RunVentura, Oct 18 2006

       Singing with so-called perfect pitch is not singing in tune.
spidermother, Jul 02 2011

       huh? sure it is... if you're the one setting the tuning.
FlyingToaster, Jul 02 2011

       Drilling stuff into your head to match or mete out frequency might be a cool way to call your dog. But like the old 'Lucy' episode how do you prevent becoming a receiver?
fried dwight, Jul 02 2011

       [FT] Well, if you're the one setting the tuning, absolutely anything is "in tune". What I meant is that for reasons relating to harmony, melodic shape, and expression, singing to some predetermined set of pitches is not always a desirable goal.
spidermother, Jul 02 2011

       This does sound a lot like the Micro***t LipLok ((TM) digital rights management idea, it has a database of all the notes and their sequence, so if you happen to be whistling one of their tunes it released a microscopic amount of tetanus poison and locked your mouth shut. No further details were released for fear of reprisals.
not_morrison_rm, Jul 02 2011

       "You have reached Product Activation. Please state the nature of your call." "Mmmmfphth." "I'm sorry, I did not understand that."
spidermother, Jul 02 2011

       I thought implants meant something else. I wondered how one could get away with knowing and determining the proper sound.
Zimmy, Jul 03 2011

       [sm] yes, but if you're tuned to 440 and the piano's tuned to 440...
FlyingToaster, Jul 03 2011

       ... then one of your pitches coincides with one of the piano's. A 440, 12 EDO is a fairly common piano tuning standard, but imposing that on the human voice is pointless and perverse.   

       Even in the case of singing with a so-tuned piano, a singer will not necessarily always do best by matching its pitches.   

       When singing alone, with other voices, or with instruments (such as most strings and many early, folk, and electronic instruments) not constrained to A440 12 EDO, to sing in that tuning is (usually) to sing out of tune. Sometimes the difference is subtle and fairly unimportant, other times it is painful and unacceptable. Try playing along on a piano to recording of a good vocal group to get the idea.
spidermother, Jul 03 2011

       Also, if properly tuned, the piano's high A will be somewhat more than 1760.
pocmloc, Jul 03 2011

       Indeed - and the amount by which it differs varies quite a lot from piano to piano.
spidermother, Jul 03 2011

       If you have (perfect) absolute pitch then you're remembering what the notes sound like; if you're remembering a piano, well, modern pianos are tuned to equal temperament... give or take: it's an "oh what a tangled web we weave" thing where you actually end up stretching the octaves so they don't sound perfecter than the other intervals.   

       If you're singing a song, with (perfect) relative pitch, then you can end up on a different frequency than what you started at, depending on how the melody goes.   

       [+] Most amateur-choir conductors would jump at the chance to drill holes in their chorus members' skulls... and if they ended up singing more in tune, well that's good too.
FlyingToaster, Jul 03 2011

       Perfect pitch is a misleading term, which I never use. I think that 'perfect' makes people (mistakenly) think that it is the best way to tune. It isn't. It's more of a handicap than a blessing, in many cases.   

       A choir singing entirely using 12 EDO* does not sound as good as one singing more in tune. Any other small set of pitches will, at best, be better in some contexts, but worse in others.   

       Octave stretching is just an extra reason why even when singing with a piano, singing _any_ predetermined set of pitches is not necessarily desirable.   

       * 12 EDO - 12 equal divisions of the octave. 'Equal temperament' is another misleading term.   

       If I could program the pitches of the implants in a choir for a particular piece of music, then I'd use them. But, again, there's no set of (say) 12 pitches that are in tune for more than harmonically simple music in 1 or 2 keys, and the standard set of 12 is never in tune, except for the octaves. Fourths and fifths are very good too, but thirds and sixths are only tolerable because they are so out of tune that the beating is hard to detect; utterly unacceptable for choral singing. Some of the more complex intervals - such as the augmented fifth - are wrong by almost half a semitone! (Although a semitone, in this context, has a large range of possible sizes too).
spidermother, Jul 04 2011

       //utterly unacceptable for choral singing// in which case, unless you're singing a capella which, unless you know what you're doing you really shouldn't be doing, you should be tuned to the piano/orchestra.   

       I still rather like the idea of holes drilled in choristers head, each perhaps with a set-screw to fine tune the intonation.
FlyingToaster, Jul 04 2011

       One way to get good at singing a capella is to sing a capella.   

       Your argument comes across as "It's important for everyone to conform to the (flawed) standard, because everyone conforms to the standard, and if you didn't, you wouldn't be compatible". It's a bit like making people stick to colour-by-numbers, and when someone says "Why can't I do a freehand painting?", replying with "You can't do that! You'd get paint outside the lines!"   

       Yes, it would be fun to walk around tuning your choristers with an Allen key and a soft mallet.
spidermother, Jul 04 2011

       Methinks we're at a bit of a cross-purposes. Singers accompanied by a fixed intonation instrument need to tune to the instrument, not to... whatever you want to call perfect relative intonation [edit: just intonation... I knew that]. Even if a soloist is singing sharp or flat as colouration, they're still using the keyboard instrument as a reference.   

       Since the bulk of singers are accompanied by fixed-intonation instruments, that's what you use. And since most of those instruments are tuned equal temperament, well thar y'ar.   

       I don't think the Idea is meant for barbershop quartets.
FlyingToaster, Jul 04 2011

       I guess it's a matter of background and taste. To me, singing in equal temperament in almost any circumstance is a very strange concept. If that is the goal, then these implants might be a way to do it.
spidermother, Jul 04 2011

       mmkay, but what do you do when you're accompanied by a piano ? say a 20voice 4part choir. If you sing "a cappella" style it's going to sound like crap because of the dissonance, whereas if you go along with the piano it'll only sound slightly crappy (which is the point of equal temperament).   

       I will of course freely admit that following an instrument, or setting or relating to a perfect a capella intonation are the only two "tunings" I know... however the other stuff is on my long list of things-to-do... played with a digital harpsichord once which had all the common settable classical intonations; that was neat.
FlyingToaster, Jul 04 2011

       I think you often get a compromise; the choir will largely tune to each other, because they are making the loudest and most sustained sounds, but not depart very much from the piano either.   

       To take a slightly simpler example, Simon and Garfunkel sang beautiful, close to just harmonies, accompanied by (equal temperament) guitar. This means that one or both of them is sometimes out of tune with the guitar, but the overall sound is much better than if they slavishly let the guitar's tuning dictate theirs. Likewise with bluegrass bands - the intonation of the (freely tunable) fiddle and singers 'wins' over the fixed (but quiet and transient) guitar and banjo, and the harmonies are better for it.
spidermother, Jul 04 2011

       ahhh... but at the other end of the foodchain it's all about dancing bears: "lookit just follow the piano" produces the least horrible results.
FlyingToaster, Jul 04 2011

       [sm / ft]
Is it true that unaccompanied / untrained singers tend to favour a pentatonic almost modal tuning?
j paul, Jul 04 2011

       One of the fundamental (sorry!) issues missing from this discussion is that of vibrato and its perception.   

       Even expert singers of renaissance polyphony who are trained to minimize vibrato produce some periodic variation in glottal frequency. How this is perceived by the singer, and by others, is still fairly opaque.   

       The implant as described could be beneficial as a reference, not as a replacement for musicality, but as an anchor in the stormy seas of pitch.   

       <carry on.>
csea, Jul 04 2011

       [j paul] It depends what you mean by 'untrained', 'modal', and 'pentatonic', but more-or-less yes.
spidermother, Jul 04 2011

       I've always meant to follow up on an observation that a hymnbook happens to vibrate at certain piano notes.   

       I think there's a class of inventions related to assisting singers in keeping on pitch.
csea, Jul 05 2011

       I should point out that I quite like this idea, but it implies (by the use of the term 'perfect pitch') an erroneous, obsolete, Victorian concept of what "on pitch" means - a concept that is still prevalent.   

       Please, please don't force or encourage people to sing like this. Singing teachers who constantly "correct" their students' pitch to notes on a piano are guilty of permanently damaging their ability to hear harmony and sing in tune. Harry Partch used the term "temperament-perverted ear" for this.   

       In summary: Vibrating head implants - good. Mistakenly thinking 'perfect pitch' means in tune - bad.
spidermother, Jul 05 2011

       [jp] <link>   

       [csea] They're called "section leads" which can mean anything from simply a "ringer" (ie: a musician) to somebody who has developed techniques to (usually subliminally) cajole the herd and various strays into singing the right note at the right time. It's actually very difficult, the moreso when the choir's singing something waaaay out of their weight class. Or the director does it if they can multitask to that extent and can be arsed.   

       [sm] I really doubt that anybody is going to try and force a kid to *exactly* pitch match a piano's notes. And few music-teachers have a string or vocal quartet on hand to teach individual students how to hear and produce pure, then tempered, harmonic intervals... perhaps using a digital delay or something might have some use... and <link>.
FlyingToaster, Jul 05 2011

       Human hearing is extremely complicated!   

       Pure tones which have measurable frequency and related perception (pitch) are affected strongly by measurable amplitude (perceived as loudness,) and a host of other psychoacoustic variables.
csea, Jul 05 2011

       [FT] And to those few music teachers I offer untempered praise.   

       I've directed two choirs, and my approach was either (1) carefully work out the harmonic relationships in the piece and program the appropriate pitches into a software synthesiser (I had to mark the score for the accompanist, so he knew to play not _that_ G, but the _other_ G (G\ to be precise, programmed into the G# key) when necessary), or (2) build the harmonies in the piece from first principles, starting with the tonic, then the fifth, the third, etc., then the chord progressions, getting the choir to tune each interval in turn, so that when the piece was sung they had already internalised the harmonic relationships. My main method, though, was to lock the piano and hide the key.
spidermother, Jul 05 2011

       [sm] Wow! that's very intense. Do they teach you to do that in school ? It never even occurred to me to do a rehearsal tape like that... though mind none of my synths could pull it off even if it had.   

       I just sorta drew the line after "lock the piano", sink or swim.   

       Kids or adults ? how much of an harmonic sense uptake do you figure you got over an equal-temp tape, or no tape but just listen for the shiny during rehearsals ? Did you do it for the more extreme temperaments ? What was their reaction to the decidedly unharmonic intervals. What about commas ? (lol, sorry but I'm really curious... I also think there's a good chance you're shitting me since teaching the disharmonics at the ass end of temperaments is just as bad as teaching equal: "follow the bloody violins who are following the harpsichord" instead of "follow the piano" :) ).
FlyingToaster, Jul 05 2011

       So many questions! but briefly, adults, I'm not shitting you, no temperaments at all (I was aiming at just intonation) and I didn't learn it in school - I worked it all out myself.   

       The only instruments I brought in for the first (university) choir was a pair of trombones; obviously no need for temperament there.   

       //expressive tonal qualities of a squashed frog// I had one soprano who was singing _too_ expressively; she had a lovely voice and singing style, but it didn't blend very well. Solution? I slightly reworked the piece and gave her a solo part!
spidermother, Jul 05 2011

       On the other hand you do of course realize that you've deprived all your students the pleasure of listening to "American Idol" and the like.   

       ... but I still maintain that if you've got a fixed temperament instrument accompanying you should tune to it, S & G notwithstanding.   

       (and I have no idea why I couldn't think of the phrase "just intonation" for the last few days)
FlyingToaster, Jul 05 2011

       The reason for the question is, I was reading something about Asian throat singing a while back. and I remember that it claimed that the reason that simple songs, nursery rhymes tend to be pentatonic is that the resonance cavities that people have in there heads are on that scale, if that is so then we are all born with something akin to this already The idea of throat singing is to sing a low pitch note with an open vowel an A or O, then by shifting the mouth shape very slightly, to get the cavities in the head to resonate. Giving a second, high pitched melody line over the sung low pitched drown. When I tried this I nearly drowned in snot, so was a bit doubtful of the explanation of how one person could sing two parts at once.
j paul, Jul 06 2011

       [j paul] The resonances involved in throat singing are produced in the mouth and throat, and are controlled by changing their shape; when the resonance precisely coincides with a harmonic of the tone that is being sung by the vocal chords, that harmonic is emphasised and sounds louder. When it's done well, it is heard to stand out on its own. Throat singing thus naturally generates harmonically related intervals, and some pentatonic scales can be fairly easily produced from a few of those intervals.   

       People get too obsessed with things like pentatonic scales. It's just a small set (5) of pitches that relate well, but there's nothing terribly special about the 5. The 'scale' of 'Mary had a little lamb', for instance, has 4 notes. They have frequencies in the ratios 8:9:10:12; these form pleasing relationships with each other. You can add another pitch (there is more than one candidate) to get a pentatonic scale, but there's nothing wildly special about doing so.   

       Yes, the head has inbuilt resonances in the form of sinuses, teeth, etc., but I've never heard of them being in a pentatonic relationship with each other, nor do I see why they should be, since the relative proportions of people's skulls vary quite a lot from person to person. I'd be glad to be proven wrong, though.   

       Also, the head resonances aren't very narrow; if they were, you could get some unpleasant vibrations going by loudly singing just the right pitch. If you sing a long, slowly sliding note, with fingertips lightly pressed to the scalp, you can (well, I can) feel various resonances coming and going, but they do so over a fair frequency range, rather than abruptly.   

       And the head resonance theory doesn't explain why most people can pick an arbitrary starting tone, and sing the same relative pitches from it.
spidermother, Jul 07 2011

       [jp] it's not the head that resonates, the pentatonic scale just resonates rather nicely to itself.   

       re: throat singing... try Inuit instead of Tibetan, they might explain it more clearly: drowning is an advanced option.
FlyingToaster, Jul 07 2011

       What [FT] said in one sentence and I said in 5 paragraphs.   

       You can, however, tune the fundamental to a head resonance, to enhance your throat singing.
spidermother, Jul 07 2011

       Thank you for the info.
j paul, Jul 07 2011


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