Re: Perfect Pitch

If that's actually what your music teacher said (and meant), then your music
teacher is wrong.  It's not surprising, though.  There is a great deal of
misinformation on perfect pitch.  Most of it, in fact.

Perfect pitch is simply the ability to reliably produce and/or identify
pitches with no external reference.  This implies an accuracy of +/- a
quarter tone or better.

One can have perfect pitch (PP) or absolute pitch (AP - they're exactly the
same) and not know the names of the pitches.  The names are required solely
to communicate.  PP is a totally internal function and is not dependent on
education, etc.  However, with no knowledge of note names, it's pretty
difficult to TEST for PP.

Perfect pitch relates to the ability to HEAR.  Reading music is
fundamentally unrelated to this.  In fact, some people just read the "dots"
and translate them directly to the instrument without "converting" them to
music first.

Most people have relative pitch.  The relative pitch possessor (RPP) can
hear that a melody is major, minor, etc., but don't know what key it's in
unless told, or they have an (external) reference note (e.g, a note from the
piano, pitch pipe, etc.).  They hear the "differences" between pitches.
Perfect pitch possessors (PPPs) hear each note as a distinct and unique
entity.  While they know that CEG forms a major triad, they tend to hear it
more as "CEG", and recognize that it's inherently different from DF#A and
other major triads.

There are degrees of PP, from "just barely" on up.  One form of PP is being
able to hum a pitch on demand.  I know one fellow who has this form.  He
can't reliably ID pitches by ear without humming, but he can hum them on

Some perfect pitch possessors can ID pitches only within certain ranges, or
played only on certain instruments.

People can - and DO - learn perfect pitch.  David Lucas Burge sells a
perfect pitch course, and it works.

In my experience, those with the most advanced form (known as AP1) are
(apparently) born with the ability.  AP1 is the ability to hum pitches on
demand, and ID pitches by ear pretty much anywhere in the audible range,
played on any instrument.  It's usually extremely accurate, and AP1's can
typically hear differences in pitch of a few cents or better.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: "DL Terry" <so_blue@xxxxxxx>
To: <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2003 10:21 PM
Subject: Re: Perfect Pitch

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Keith" <shotgun@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > According to my music teacher, a person with perfect pitch was born with
> > it. A person who is taught or has developed perfect pitch. is classified
> > differently, by a term that has escaped me for the moment. Incomplete
> > information I know. Perhaps someone else can fill the blank...Keith
> OK, then; If they're born with perfect pitch, but never learn to read
> therefore to ID the pitch...
> then what?
> --
> Harp-l is sponsored by SPAH.
> Hosted by,

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.