As a keyboard player with perfect or absolute pitch this can cause 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 can be very confusing to play along 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. In other words, that note makes that particular sound, and I hear it in my head before I actually play it. 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 can 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 are hearing in your head.
Unfortunately in the UK Legends the detuning of the band by up to two semitones was messing with my perfect pitch and I was starting to become 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, or sometimes not detuned at all, meaning that every song would have to be learned in two or even three different keys which would just not be practical. Older keyboards such as Hammond organs, Vox Continentals, Electric pianos and acoustic pianos cannot be detuned because they do not have transpose buttons and are therefore fixed at concert pitch. As the Animals III shows were also detuned this unfortunaly rendered my Vox Continental unusable on any of the shows. I believe that if a singer is unable to reach the high notes of a particular song then the actual key signature for that one song should just be changed, and don’t just detune the whole set for that one song which takes the 'life' out of all the other songs. I still perform with some bands that perform detuned but now it is only occasionally.