ABSOLUTES: T & P - RKC

<Bob Clark (940413.1445 EDT)>

Bill Leach (940407.20:24 EST(EDT)Subject: Re: TEMPORAL VBLS - RKC

TIME

Are we agreed that (esp. humans) do not have an "absolute sense"
about time?

Frankly, this question had not occurred to me.

There are some indications that we may have an "absolute sense" of
time. For example, consider "jet lag," the effects of changing to
daylight saving, the problems people have with changing shift
schedules, the effects of arising at an unusually early hour, studies
of changing sleep schedules, observations of circadian rhythms in
various organisms, etc.

However, for purposes of discussion, analysis, experiment, etc, it's
possible to shift attention from one time scale to another. Indeed,
such shifts in time scale are essential when shifting attention from
one level of the hierarchy to another.

Thus I conclude that "humans may be able to perceive an absolute time
scale," but, perhaps more important, "humans certainly perceive
relative time scales."

PITCH

that there are people that actually do have an absolute sense for
audible pitch.

The phrase "absolute pitch" is unfortunate because it implies some
kind of "built-in" reference for pitch. Many musical instruments do
indeed have such intrinsic pitch characteristics. Some can be
adjusted ("tuned") to match other instruments. Humans can produce
different pitches (vocally), although they tend to use a limited
range of pitch when speaking.

A wide range of pitches is perceivable with sounds of various origins.

"Absolute pitch" refers to the learned ability to remember,
recognize, and produce specific tones. Some people are remarkably
accurate in this ability. But it is a learned skill of memory. I
have a limited ability to do this for some pitches, and can extend it
to other pitches by using musical intervals. But I have never taken
the trouble to develop this skill.

In reviewing music and related topics in my Britannica, I find
reports that support these conclusions.

Regards, Bob Clark