How many of us have perfect pitch?



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mgran
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09 Nov 2009, 8:16 pm

Okay, when I was younger (like about thirty, twenty five years younger) I had some music lessons, but not that many, and I wasn't paying attention. I had maybe a year of piano lessons, secondary modern "music lessons" (urgh....) and sang in a choir.

Recently I've started to have music lessons again, joined the local choir, and am listening to (and enjoying) my son's piano lessons.

The piano teacher has ascked me a few times if I have perfect pitch, since on a few occasions my son has played a bum note and I've automatically said, "B", or "D flat."

Apparently it's uncommon to be able to tell by ear what the notes are.

My question is... REALLY?

Isn't it just relative pitch, or something???

Surely, if anyone listens to a song, or melody, and someone plays a bum note, if that person has musical "abc" they should be able to say, "B" or "D flat" without causing consternation?



poopylungstuffing
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09 Nov 2009, 8:31 pm

I don't have perfect pitch..

other than GCEA, which I have memorized ...i can sing it and then check it against a uke tuner...and I am right.

I am not constantly listening to music and knowing the notes that are being played.

I am pretty good at figuring out the chords to relatively simple songs.

I am very sensitive to tones that are either too sharp or too flat...

But I don't think I have perfect pitch.



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09 Nov 2009, 8:35 pm

What you describe is a form of 'perfect pitch' or tonal recognition; while I can approximate, I am more skilled in relative pitch than gifted with perfect pitch. Short form - perfect pitch is knowing the name from the tone alone (calling out the Bb's would be an example), whereas relative is the ability to find another tone accurately from the original sound (e.g., hearing and nailing the interval between C4 and Db5). I knew a saxophonist once whose ear was so good, he could call out the chord (with extensions) and inversion while someone was playing guitar in another room with essentially perfect accuracy.


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09 Nov 2009, 8:36 pm

I do not have the gifted ability across the scale like you have mentioned, but I *can* consistently hum Middle-C ... and I have recently been working on being able to "think" the actual pitches of the Mi-Do-Sol-La of the Uke in my head without actually making any sound.


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Dhp
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09 Nov 2009, 9:42 pm

Yes. I have perfect pitch...and in these days of microtonality, it SUCKS!



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09 Nov 2009, 10:43 pm

I am not sure. I never learned to associate the letters with notes...but I know if something is wrong. And I could get up and play it correctly. I play by ear and have done so since I was 4. I can't really read music....well I can but I don't bother with it because reading and playing at the same time makes my brain implode upon itself. Implosions...woo. Not fun.


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10 Nov 2009, 8:54 am

It depends on what songs I sing. I usually do have perfect pitch.


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anasthasia
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10 Nov 2009, 6:46 pm

With me it's like this:

I am very musical. I have an extraordinary feeling of rhythm, perfect pitch (people around me and in music school have told me), I hear my own compositions in my head, but cannot compose them, as I am weak in music theory for now. If I'd be stronger, I think I could write everything down. Mozart could because he was very strong in music theory.
I improvise some heard music from the CD in my mind, add them new instruments, different rhythm... It sounds pretty well!
And also, I can replay the music from the radio in my mind, and actually can sing or dance on it, with no actual music around me.
I can actually play different parts from my own compositions from my mind sometimes on the synthesizer, violin or cello as I know some technique. But most time I can't, mostly I can only chorus, and I cannot write it down, but I feel it strongly and can talk with you everything about the song or the feeling about it. I usually can tell which tones are in it. When you play D, I will say you play D.
I can remember music in my mind, just like I've put a CD into Windows media player and play (I play it in my mind).
It's really weird.
Maybe it's due to great musical talent, as I feel the rhythm and music right as a part of me. Actually I feel sick without music and I feel the vibrations of sounds very much. Sometimes it either irritates me.
I really can play on any instrument a new song (while I am hearing it for the first time), when you show me the basic technique. Show me how to play that instrument, play a song on the radio and you'll see me play on this instrument the song I am hearing for the first time xD.
I also learned by myself on how to tune the violin, with no help of tuner or synthesizer, when no one actually wanted to tell me.
Sometimes I say music is a part of me, just like Asperger syndrome.

Great anecdote:
When I was tested if I have good ear enough to play the violin, they at first didn't want to accept me either, because I was too old (I had 13). Then, OK, they agreed.
I done everything just perfect, they told me.
And what is the most funny, when teacher played two melodies on the piano and asked me if they were the same, I told her she only changed F and F# note. She laughed. :)

So, that's on you now. Decide whether I have perfect pitch or not :)

I read somewhere that it's not uncommon for people on the autistic spectrum to develop perfect pitch.

And also someone told me that everyone is born with perfect pitch, but it usually disappears when the child is about 3-4 years old.
What do you think, is it true?
There I don't understand something... How do I still have the same pitch then and why my sister does not?
How then some people don't have it if they really had? Why does it disappear?
I just don't get it.

But I have a question.
Do you think someone, who has very little ear for music, can develop relative or even perfect (absolute) pitch?
Is there really a technique to do it?
I am only asking, because my friend asked me if there is a way to learn it, she would want to be more musical.

And as we are there, talking about music, I'd ask if any of you want to do this survey:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=8 ... BDxg_3d_3d

Thanks for the replies, anyway.


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BryceAlexander
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02 Dec 2009, 12:11 am

Only about 1 in 10,000 people have perfect pitch. I've read a lot on this subject on other forums and some people have the most wacky theories, like, "Everyone in China has perfect pitch because their language is tonal." (??) You can improve or learn perfect pitch and the harmonic overtones are the key. Listen to the differences in levels of the harmonics between different notes and you can learn their individuality and distinguish them absolutely. My own theory on this is not that the harmonic spectra are actually different, but that we perceive them differently because of the resonances and non-linear frequency response of the ear.


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cat42
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02 Dec 2009, 4:38 am

not sure about perfect pitch , but having never formally learnt an instrument ( other than a very short spell with the voilin in school) , i can pick out most tunes bby ear on both the flute and keyboard. it amazes my partner as i can begin with the first few notes of something stuck iin my head, and work my way through most of the song just instinctively knowing which key to hit next .
having said this i thought id have a go at teaching myself properly, but having looked at the lessons on how to read scores i dont think my brain is gonna cope with written music at all, as im just not percieving it as logical, so i doubt ill do more than play by ear



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03 Dec 2009, 12:15 pm

I found 2 online tests for perfect pitch:
Absolute / perfect pitch test - C scale
Absolute / perfect pitch test - chromatic scale

I took the test; no perfect pitch.

For those interested,
here's a auditory illusion:
Auditory illusion
and some blind hearing tests:
blind hearing tests


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jc6chan
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12 May 2010, 9:49 pm

I kinda have perfect pitch. I got perfect on the tests but it was only because I recognized some of the notes and I used those notes in reference to the other questions.



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13 May 2010, 1:45 am

when i was still a kid i used to have perfect pitch, but now speaking from middle-age, i have found that [due to cochlear shrinkage with age] my perfect pitch is now imperfect, by roughly 3 semitones sharp- IOW middle C now sounds to me like middle Eb. the opening to "also sprach zarathustra" [sustained C0 pedal tone] now sounds like Eb0, and i hate it. everything sounds 3 semitones sharp to me now, and it bothers me so. i wish i could go back to my childhood hearing acuity.



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13 May 2010, 5:57 pm

I can tune a guitar without a fork or any other aid. Don't know it that really counts though, because I suppose it's only perfect pitch in that particular setting.

Play a note for me at random, in some other setting, and I MIGHT be able to tell you what it is, but probably not.

Can I tell when a note is "off?" Yes. Always. to an annoying degree according to everyone around me.

I honestly can't understand those who can't tell.

It's as obvious to me as something on a balance scale being off balance. But then again, most people I know can't tell that as easily as I can either.

The problem with me though, is that though my ears might be near "perfect pitch," my fingers aren't.

What I mean is that I've heard that musicians with "true" perfect pitch can listen to a melody, or chord progression, or both, once, then play it back to perfection.

I can't do that, because though I know what I heard, I can't make my brain communicate that way to my hands and fingers. My appendages do whatever the heck they want to!

As a result, most of the music I write, I write with visual patterns, instead of sonic ones. For example, when I look at my guitar neck, I know that if I move my hands in certain patterns, with certain fingerings, I can construct some good harmonies and melodies based on the visual patterns I imagine.

I now use Sibelius to write a lot of my music, and the same applies with it. I "see" the music without hearing it, and know what will work and what won't. Of course, it does help that I can hear it at the same time, while writing it. But I don't even think about what the notes are while I'm dropping them in there.

To me, it's irrelevant. Ask me what key any song is in that I've written, and you'll get a blank look, followed by, "It goes like this," then I'll play it.

Reminds me of Nigel from Spinal Tap, and the amps that "go to eleven."


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13 May 2010, 7:06 pm

Both tests told me:
<www.audiocheck.net>
You scored 10/10. Perfect!



I don't know if I have perfect pitch or not. I have good ear, I have wide voice range, but I can't combine and use them.
I was in school of music, but I didn't graduate - communication with me was really hard. Music teachers are impatient and very NT.
I'm not verbal mind, but I love music above all :heart:


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