The science behind why we love ‘Pitch Perfect’ (yes, the SCIENCE)
Of course we all have a ginormous collective crush on Pitch Perfect and of course we are all counting down the hours until we can get our booties into the theaters. (Was May 15th marked on your calendar by a bunch of hearts and flowers and exclamation marks? ‘Cause . . . that’s what my calendar looks like). That said, have you ever wondered if a song really needs to be “pitch perfect” in order to be great? Go with us here.
General Electric Creator-in-Residence, Sally Page, recently interviewed Deke Sharon, the vocal arranger and musical director of the Pitch Perfect films, and they talked all about what makes songs great and how important being “pitch perfect” really is.
Sharon stresses that you don’t have to be “pitch perfect” in order to blow the roof off the joint. “There are times when an amazing performance will end up, by the end, drifting up a quarter tone, but who cares? Music is communication. At the end, if there are tears in people’s eyes and they’re out of their seats cheering that it was great, who cares that it moved up or down? A thousand years ago, people didn’t care, they just cared that music made them feel good, that’s what music is.”
Page also spoke to composer Nana Menya Ayensu, who has been researching the effect that music has on our minds.
Ayensu, like Sharon, believes that a song doesn’t have to be “pitch perfect” to be amazing. “Our brains tend to like a little bit of musical imperfection,” he revealed. The example he gave was a drummer being a little ahead of or a little behind the beat, these slight missteps aren’t “. . . just accepted, they’re actually preferred by the brain.” (Someone needs to go tell J.K. Simmons in Whiplash so he can go a little easier on Miles Teller!!!)
Lastly, Page chatted up YouTube superstar Sam Tsui, who got his start in a college a capella choir.
“There is no such thing as musical perfection,” Tsui proclaimed. “In the sort of areas of music that have mathematical structure there are things that are more musically [here, he air-quotes] ‘perfect,’ but there’s still something very biological and fundamental about it.”
There you have it from the experts, music that is “perfect” isn’t necessarily “pitch perfect,” it just successfully brings us together and makes us feel something. Which, if you’ve seen The Bellas perform, you know is a skill those girls have got DOWN COLD.
The video has SO many fun, science-y factoids about music, check it out below!