A host with perfect pitch?

On this week’s show, addressing caller “Marga”, one of the two hosts started singing the 70s radio staple, “Margaritaville”. It was exactly on key which makes me wonder if that host (whichever one it was) has perfect pitch. Searching the archives reveals a 2009 thread here about Tom possibly having perfect pitch. So whaddya think, car talk fans? Do these guys have talents besides their made-for-radio faces?

Mant people do have talents far beyond their ‘‘jobs’’.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out how many fellow musicans are here in my auto shop :slight_smile:
A few have Navajo jewelry manufacturing in their hobby time… some painting or drawing artistry.
My service manager was a master cabinet builder.

Yah, a persons job does not define them.

Having dated a music teacher for several years many years ago, I think I can say that neither brother probably has ‘perfect pitch’. She did not have it, or any other perfect things as far as I can remember. She DEFINED it as being able to hum, sing, whistle or tune an instrument to a given pitch or note. That is, if one were to say “please sing a D above middle C”, a person with ‘perfect pitch’ could do it as long as that pitch were in their range. Those who can sing, hum or whistle and hit the proper pitches without accompanyment, but don’t necessarily know what notes they are, are said to have ‘relative pitch’. It is far more common than ‘perfect pitch’, and probably what one or both Magliozzi brothers has. I do, but don’t ask me what notes they are. I can’t even read music.

I once read about a study that said that people who had studied music at young ages, between 4 and 6 years old, were more likely to have perfect pitch than those who start studying music later. I imagine there are probably a lot of us out there who have relative pitch, but who don’t know the music scale well enough to identify a note just by listening to it, which is the way to identify those who have perfect pitch.

When I was learning how to play the piano as a child, I must have played “Heart and Soul” at least 2,000 times, so if I were to sing it to you, I’d probably start at middle C, but if I heard you play a note other than middle C on a piano, I am not sure I would identify it as the correct note.

I worked with an engineer who use to be a concert pianist for Boston Pops.

Another engineer I worked with…quit his job last year to go on the Senior Golf tour.

Two people that work for me are currently in bands.

I was a pretty good Baseball player in High-School and college. But after 2 years of playing BB in college I had to quit because my grades were suffering. I knew the probability of me making it as a BB player was slim at best…but making a decent living as an engineer was pretty easy if I could maintain a 3.0+ average. I really don’t know how some kids do it.

Do these guys have talents besides their made-for-radio faces?

Tom and Ray play (or have played) in a bluegrass band so they are at least respectable musicians. They mention this from time to time. That helps to explain their theme music by David Grisman, and by some other music which used to be used regularly at the breaks.

Many years ago, one of the “automusicology” snippets on the show was a bluegrass tune…the voices were familiar so I assumed that was their group, but never tried to track that down on the website. Being a bluegrass fan, I noticed that they sounded pretty good. Maybe that explains what you pointed out about Margaritaville.

If the web lackeys are monitoring this thread, maybe they’ll point us to a link on the website for that bluegrass tune from Tom and Ray’s band, I’d like to hear the whole thing.

@WesternRoadtripper, there is a place on this website that has a list of songs heard on Car Talk. I don’t remember where it is, but it shouldn’t be hard to find.

Thanks…I remember that place on the website just about as well as you do. The trouble is that I don’t know what I’m looking for, neither the approximate date, nor the name of the song, nor the name of the band. I can narrow it down to sometime between 1992 and 2008, but I’m just not that motivated.

It seemed easier to toss out a little bait and see what I catch (ie, a web lackey who knows exactly where that link is hiding).

Tom and Ray often mention stuff about music on the show. Just in this week’s show (mid March, 2013) Ray mentioned to a caller from Sitka Alaska that the Sitka Spruce is the preferred tree to use to make acoustic guitar soundboards.

I think there’s a difference between remembering a song on pitch and ‘perfect pitch’. I can remember a song’s pitch, but can’t do what’s described above as ‘perfect pitch’.

I think someone who has perfect pitch – if they hear a single tone – they can tell you exactly what note it is. Like if they hear a car horn, they can say “That is C-sharp above middle C” or something like that. Or they can say something even more exact, like “That is 554 Hz” .

People with good relative pitch, someone who can sing a song on pitch without trouble, but without perfect pitch, can hear two tones and say “If the first is middle C, then the second is C-sharp”. At least I think that is how it works.

Our son (age 8) has perfect pitch (as discovered by his violin teacher when our son was 7). My wife and I can sing but neither of us have perfect pitch. It has been interesting. Besides the times when someone will ask him to hum something like an A Sharp (which is then verified on a piano) many times I’ll be quietly humming or singing a song and he’ll overhear me and say “No, it starts on this note” (with a little exasperation). This has, for example, happened while humming/singing the theme to “Green Acres”, oldies songs, hymns from church, etc. and whenever we can verify it he’s spot on–it seems if he’s heard a song once or twice he remembers its key and will correct us. He’s also told us our piano is out of tune.

Perfect pitch is the ability to recognize a pitch without a reference. Relative pitch is the ability to RELATE (hence the word relative) a pitch to a given pitch. Almost everyone has both abilities to some extent, just not trained. If you can sing a song in the original key without a reference point, you are using perfect pitch. You do not have to be able to name the key. To be able to name the key takes training. Saying a particular pitch is higher or lower than a given pitch is using relative pitch. Saying it is a major third higher takes training. “Pitch memory” is a better term than perfect pitch.

Another example of a type of ‘perfect pitch’ relates to languages where pitch is a major component of meaning, such as the dialects of Chinese.

I’m not a Chinese expert (or an expert in Chinese), but I think those types of langauges use pitch CHANGE, not specific pitch, as a major component. That would make it relative pitch, not perfect pitch.