Friday, January 20, 2012

Obama sings

I didn't even realize that the president was in my town, but yesterday, at a fundraiser in New York City, Obama paid tribute to Al Green (who was in attendance) by singing a line from "Let's Stay Together":

PREVIOUSLY: Obama does things with his voice.


Beth said...

Does Obama have perfect pitch? It sounds like he's singing that snippet in the same key as Green's recording.

John Althouse Cohen said...

He is singing it in the right key, as you can hear in this video that plays the original recording over the Obama video.

But I wouldn't assume he has perfect pitch (which I prefer to call absolute pitch, to distinguish it from relative pitch). He might have listened to the recording shortly before he went on stage. Also, although someone without absolute pitch can't reliably sing a song in the right key with no reference, I wouldn't be surprised if the accuracy rate is better than it would be at random. (Random would be a 1 in 12 chance of being within half a semitone of the right key.) If you have a good sense of your own vocal range and you've already practiced singing the song, you might be able to make a good estimate. For instance, you'd instinctively avoid singing the song way too high, since this might strain your voice.