Perfect pitch

According to hot spot questioners. Those who have an ability to match open notes with an open note. Or in hearing a note and then replaying in such same key have intrinsically a better understanding of enjoying listening to music.

Possibly, but music covers a wide spectrum, including the experience of rhythm and texture, as well as tonal relationships such as melodies and chords… therefore one would need to extend the hypothesis such that those with a good sense of rhythm, or be effective in identifying patterns in nature would enjoy music more than those who don’t… which indeed may be the case.


I have perfect pitch but I wouldn’t say that it means that I enjoy music more as a consequence. Understanding of keys maybe. Interestingly though I was always weak on the rhythm front unless melody was involved.

I studied piano to grade 8 and always found the aural tests a challenge.

There were 2 tests as I recall. One whereby they played a short piece of music on the piano and you were asked to sing it back. I found it easier to play the same thing back on the piano and would just go up and play without being given a starting note. This I could do pitch perfect and in time every time. Whilst I don’t play these days if somebody played any key on a piano I could walk up and play the same key without seeing which note they pressed, weird really!

The other test was that they would play you a tune and you had to clap back the rhythm. For this I was hopeless and it would always average my mark down! I would normally be lost after a few bars. Taking the melody out for me was a big no no.

Having perfect pitch isn’t all good. If I hear something played it the wrong key it grates, it doesn’t have to be proper music, something like ‘happy birthday’ sounds wrong to me if not sung in the correct key.

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I used to be jealous of those (musicians) with PP, but have been educated out of such thoughts since. Sure, it can be really helpful in many situations, but it can be as much a blessing as a curse.

Interestingly, it can definitely be a learned skill. PP is notably more prevalent in people who speak a pitch-timed language (e.g. Chinese or Japanese) as a first language than those who don’t. The explanation seems to be that having tuned one’s ears/brain to extremely subtle nuances of pitch in one’s early years makes it much easier to pick up PP.

I’ve seen no evidence that having (or not having) PP has any influence on one’s liking of music.


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My first wife had perfect pitch. It used to really bug her when her orchestra had to tune to an off-pitch oboe.

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I don’t believe that perfect pitch can be learned. Some people have excellent relative pitch but that shouldn’t be confused with perfect pitch. I believe that everyone has the capacity to develop perfect pitch. I am reliably informed that birds have perfect pitch that is accurate to one eighth of a tone. They need this in order that they can communicate with their mother when she leaves the nest to find food and then successfully return. When I was studying at university, I undertook an extended assignment on perfect pitch. I interviewed people with perfect pitch and where possible, their parents. In my case, a friend of my father’s who was a pianist, identified that I may have perfect pitch when I was about two years old. In my research for my assignment, it seemed likely that those with perfect pitch were exposed to music at an early age and grew up in homes in which music was regularly heard. My parents loved music but neither had any music training. They did not have perfect pitch so the hereditary theory goes out of the window, although many musician’s children did have perfect pitch. I have perfect pitch, my son does not have it. I could only find one thing that linked people who had perfect pitch. When I interviewed parents of children with perfect pitch I asked them about their children’s favourite toys when they were very young. In almost all cases, a sound generating toy on which the pitch could be varied was one of the nominated favourites. In my case, it was a toy wooden piano with the black keys painted on. I also had a small toy xylophone. I always loved music related ‘toys’ in my early years. When I was very young, I had a wind up gramophone with a collection of 78s of classical music. At the age of 7, my parents bought me a small open reel tape recorder that took 3" reels. They were sold in Woolworths.I had the toy piano until I was three years old, when I asked Father Christmas for a ‘real’ piano for Christmas. He duly brought a 1926 Spencer down the chimney. I kept it until my mid 40s when it was replaced with a digital piano as I really needed something with a MIDI interface to facilitate recording.


Came across this fascinating short. Explains how perfect pitch is a moving target - in the sense of a universally recognised standard. Those who make music can rely on some electronic chip to determine that perfect pitch, but sometimes the best ears wants otherwise !!

(Although, in relative fairness; this dude was playing an acoustic Guitar. With a general set intonation. Always a bitch to get in tune against the modern electric ?)


My 2 year old kid is singing many songs all day, and always in tune and in the right pitch. Really remarkable. The 11 year old and 10 year old have it too. I have not checked my 5 year old, he does not sing much.

I have a BMus degree, I have a relative pitch. My wife is hopeless, we drive her crazy. Even the youngest one shows her how it should sound!

Personally, I’m good in theory & harmony - but my pitch is not very accurate. I might suffer from my love for old music which has different intervals.

I also noticed that certain people have a good rythmic feeling, whilst others are hopeless.

Ah, lookup Olivier Messiaen. He was ornithologist and developed his own ‘tonal’ system.

Your theory looks very interesting to me.

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I don’t have truly perfect pitch (I’d be hard pressed to listen to 3 tones and tell you which is the A440 if the others are close), but I certainly have perfect ‘relative’ pitch. Meaning out of tune stuff drives me CRAZY. I certainly hear it.

And I have a bit of ‘perfect guitar chord’ pitch. I can hear a G maj chord and know that’s what I’m hearing, for example.

Perfect pitch: When you throw a banjo into a dumpster and it lands on top of an accordion. :wink:


Although in another thread you did in fact mistake the opening guitar chord in Wish You Were Here for G major, when in fact it’s an inverted minor 13, the notes being Bb,F,G,E, played at the VI position with the G and E played on the open third and first strings respectively. Try it and you’ll see.

Mia culpa! :sunglasses:

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