A New Way To Think About Perfect Pitch

by Tim Redford, Dec 25, 2017 . 3 min read

A New Way To Think About Perfect Pitch

We’ve all heard about people with something they call “perfect pitch”. That’s the skill a person has when they’re able to identify or reproduce any note on the musical scale without having a reference.

As an example, check out this kid named Dylan while he flexes his talent. I can’t believe the speed his mind works at!

Perfect pitch also goes by the name “absolute pitch” and it’s a phenomenon that a slew of courses online are pitching as something you can train for. That would be the ultimate party trick and no doubt it would make us all better musicians and performers.

Real Life Superpowers

Unfortunately, the hype falls flat. According to in-depth studies, perfect pitch isn’t something that you can learn as a skill. It’s something that 1 in 10,000 people are born with and don’t have to practice to get good at. Some describe it as having a “knowing” of what a note is and what key a work is in just by hearing it. Instead of thinking of it as a skill it would be more accurate to call it a faculty that we either have or we don’t.

At the same time, there is something real and achievable that these online courses are teaching. It’s something almost anyone can learn and it goes by a different name.

Relative Pitch

“Relative pitch” is what’s possible for most of us musicians, and if someone is really good at it, it may pass as perfect pitch to those who don’t know the difference. (I had no idea until I looked a little deeper)

It allows us to determine the notes being played relative to the intervals (steps between) notes already played. This helps instrumentalists play by ear and improvise, and allows vocalists to contextualize their melodies within a passage of music.

So yes, in this case, it’s possible to train your ability to have a much greater fluency in the language of pitch.

Famous Artists With Perfect Or Relative Pitch

You may recognize some or all of these names, let’s see who’s pitch is on point.

Perfect Pitch

Glenn Gould

Oscar Peterson

Yo Yo Ma

Beethoven

Bach

Mozart

Relative Pitch

Stravinsky

Bernstein

Charlie Parker

Brahms

John Coltrane

Wagner

Want To Take The Test?

I was so curious. I’ve always had a good sense of melody and music, maybe I have perfect pitch? Well, the test below cleared up any delusions of grandeur I may have had.

How well can you do?

And if you don’t have perfect pitch, at least you can have perfect tuning while you play by using the Roadie 2!



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

Wondering what are the 5 most covered songs of all time? Spoiler alert! They’re not the ones you would think.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 7, 2021 . 4 min read

The 4 ways to develop relative pitch are quite easy to apply. Like most things music related, all it takes is practice and dedication.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jun 4, 2021 . 3 min read

These 5 inspirational books for musicians can be considered modern classics. They are a fantastic resource to feed our drive and keep us inspired.

Rodrigo Sanchez
May 3, 2021 . 4 min read

Today we’re gonna talk about how to write a song on ukulele. Songwriting is a beautiful artform and the heart of the music industry. Without songs, there is nothing to be recorded, produced, streamed or sold.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Apr 5, 2021 . 5 min read

Ever since its launch in May 2020, Roadie 3 received overwhelming support from publications, YouTubers,  social influencers, and musicians. With many of them expressing their thoughts on the next generation tuning device to their followers.

Hussein El Annan
Mar 26, 2021 . 6 min read

We can all learn from the 5 habits of world-class musicians. Although everybody is unique and we should all find a schedule and workflow that works for us, it’s good to at least know how the greats did it.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 15, 2021 . 4 min read

Today we’re going to talk about 6 instruments that are easy to learn for guitar players. Most of these are stringed instruments that feature a string arrangement somewhat similar to a guitar.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Mar 5, 2021 . 4 min read

It is important to know how to resolve nut ping. This issue can create tuning problems as well as audible clings or pings when you bend a string.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Feb 19, 2021 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!