As a keyboard player with perfect or absolute pitch I have problems when playing in a band that is detuned. Silly? Well not really.
Basically, when a keyboard is detuned, or transposed, it means that you are playing in one particular key but the sounds you are hearing are from another key. So the notes I am hearing do not correspond to the notes I am playing.
This is because when detuned, if you press say a ‘C’ note you hear a different note such as a ‘B’ or ‘Bb’ or in some cases even an ‘A’ depending on the amount of detuning, which for me isn't very enjoyable to work with.
Having learned to play the piano from an early age I developed perfect pitch, also known as absolute pitch, where the pitch was very fundamental to the actual notes I was playing on the piano. I remember when I was very young the sound of each note of the piano had a particular colour or feeling in my head. So if I heard a note or chord I could relate to it and go straight to the piano and immediately play that note, chord or phrase. Today I can still hear the notes I want to play in my head and hit those notes straight away on a keyboard. Unfortunately once a keyboard, or any musical instrument, is detuned then all those notes are messed up! It’s all about associating the pitch, fingering shapes, and patterns (chords and melodies) on the keyboards with the sounds that you hear in your head.
Unfortunately in the UK Legends the detuning of the band was messing with my perfect pitch and I was afraid I would start to lose it. I guess for someone that does not have perfect or absolute pitch then playing detuned is irrelevant. It's actually better for me to just play in the key signature of the ‘actual detuned’ pitch. But this would not be easy to do when some of the shows might be temporarily detuned even further away from the root note, meaning that every song would have to be learned in two or even three different keys which would just not be practical. I believe that if a singer is struggling to reach the high notes of a song then just drop the actual key signature of that song and don’t just detune the whole set.