I have very good relative pitch, and a highly trained ear, and that you can teach. If you play me C, I can tell you what the other notes are based on that, and my internal reference for what C is persists for quite a while. If you play me a song, I can hear what the chords are -- the color (major, minor, dominant, diminished, etc.) and the degree of the scale. But that is all relative to itself. If I hear the same song played in C, and then in Db, the two of them will hit me emotionally the same. Whereas for someone with perfect pitch, I understand it can be different. And for someone with perfect pitch and synesthesia, I understand it can be different still -- notes and keys are perceived as colors. And while I can imagine what that might be like, there's no way for me to train myself to be that.
As someone with absolute pitch, I should say I have not found it musically useful, and I would hesitate recommending people train for it even if it was possible. When I was learning to play jazz, it was actually a major crutch for me. For jazz especially, the modes, chords, progressions, and relationships between tones are really important and are what determines the 'color' of what you're playing. Harmony in general is determined by the relationships between tones, not the absolute tones themselves (mostly - there are of course differences in sound playing three octaves up or down), and an ear for absolute pitch doesn't help much there at all.
I could use absolute pitch to identify chords and modes, but it didn't help me 'think' about and play within them the way relative pitch does. A good ear for relative pitch, and an understanding of harmony go much farther.
This is interesting, because a tonal language like Mandarin does not care about absolute pitch; it's all relative. For example, 1st tone is a (usually higher) flat tone. But it doesn't matter what pitch you use. 2nd tone is a rising tone, but it doesn't matter what pitch you start at or end at; it just matters that the two pitches differ enough that your listener can tell that there was a change, and that it was rising.
I wonder why that sort of thing also leads to a higher prevalence of absolute pitch.
While it helps with starting on the right note when singing a song and deriving single pitches, it by no means makes me instantly know a note's pitch like someone with perfect pitch would experience. I still have to derive pitches manually, and while singing the sound of my voice is loud enough that I don't hear the tinnintus anymore and I often don't notice my singing going slightly out of tune.
I do have the ability to recognize relative pitches in relation to e. g. accompaniment playing in a given key, and this recognition is automatic in a way that the derive-from-tinnitus definitely isn't.
Also sometimes the tinnitus goes out of tune down to almost E4, this sucks.
Absolute pitch (or perfect pitch) is the ability to identify a note without having any memory aid or reference tone to compare it to.
So if you have a constantly-present reference tone, due to tinnitus, and you figure everything out based on the interval from that tone, that's simple relative pitch and the ability to figure out intervals. Not perfect pitch.
I have tinnitus as well, and while it is very mild, I am surprised at the idea it can be ‘stable’ enough to form a basis for absolute pitch. Most of the time I don’t experience it as a pitch layered on top of all other sounds. Even if I focus on it, it doesn’t feel like a sound that can be given a clear singular tone, if that makes sense. I do know experience of tinnitus varies, so perhaps there are forms that are more capable.
True. Perfect pitch can indeed prevent you from appreciating some kinds of music that become too predictable, too fast.
Having perfect pitch does not make it impossible, or even difficult, to "enjoy" music at varying pitches, etc.
Or cool in this specific case, or just different and fun. You can intentionally do 13ET as well because you want to, but without claiming it's somehow better. Or use many other choices...
Funny story: Watching "A Hard Day's Night" with my son, when he was around 8 years old: "Daddy, why are the Beatles out of tune?" (The tracks in the movie were slightly off-pitch compared to the album.)
Turns out he has perfect pitch. As in, he can start singing a song in the exact pitch he learned it -- close enough to sound in tune with the recording. This is accuracy to the discrimination level of trained musicians -- I estimate about 0.5% or 1/10 of a semi-tone.
Oddly, or not, it took him several years to learn to hear music on a relative basis -- to hear C-G as similar to D-A. Transposed songs (Sinatra sings "Something" in F) sounded to him like completely different songs.
Now he has developed an excellent musical ear, and taught himself to play bass.
Your son sounds like he might be bored by a schools traditional learning pretty quickly, channels like Adams and Andrew Huang would be great ways to keep his curiosity piqued!
On the other hand, if you do have perfect pitch, you can lose it over time! I've had perfect pitch all my life, and now that I'm going on 40 I surprise myself by sometimes hearing a song a half-step off (i.e. I'll assume a song is in F but it's really in E). This has never happened to me until the past few years. Not sure how much is due to my ears aging, and how much due to I'm not a practicing musician anymore.
1. help the singer hit "higher notes".
2. sound "heavier" and just that "bit off" that half-step down tuning gives.
In conjunction with "drop-D" tuning (pulling the low E-string down a full step in order to give a "deeper", more heavy tonality), this gives much of modern "heavy rock" heavier feel.
My first encounter with half-step down tuning was, I believe, Motley Crue's Too Fast For Love album, where I beleive Mick Mars used both tunings in order to use a beer bottle for full chord slides (dropping the low-E allows barre chords, the staple of rock music, to be played using just one finger or, in Mick's case, one beer bottle) and that exceptionally low "drop-C#" (remember, we dropped the low-E down a step and a half to C#) drone growl that gave that album an exceptionally hard feel.
I can easily say that in the 100's of rock songs that are tuned a half-step down (the entire Guns N Roses catalog for one quick example) and thus lend themselves to keys like G# and D# instead of A and E, that I have almost never encountered a song in G# or D# that were not using half-step down tuning.
This is not likely to happen with a recording of the instruments I’ve always played (piano and trumpet) but might happen if I’m listening to guitars or organ.
Well, we don't actually know this do we? We know that it's very hard, and that it's never been done before, but so was running a sub-4 mile for most of human history.
If we knew the mechanism through which people learn perfect pitch and could prove that it vanishes with age, then you'd have an argument. But we're not there yet.
I have a pet parrot who seems to always sing in the same key. Now I feel bad for whistling off-key to him all these years!
Assuming that perfect pitch is an immutable skill after a certain point, I wonder whether the age of acquisition still matters. Do people who learn the skill earlier have more fine-grained perception?
From personal experience, long ago I spent some time trying to acquire perfect pitch using a synesthetic method from somewhere, and eventually convinced myself that I was making some progress, but that the effort required to take it to the point of being at all useful wasn't going to be worth my practice time.
If music was all about relative intervals, surely this wouldn't be an issue?
* Not the world's best singer, hence my observations around transposition, as I try to bend songs I like into a range I can just about manage.
For an equal temperament instrument (like a midi keyboard), transcription would be seamless.
For a fretless instrument, transcription can be made seamless, if the player is good at intonation.
However, the timbre of the instrument can still be a little different for each key (e.g. open strings vs fingered notes), but that's a nuance on instrument rather than transcription per se.
> That's because you are using a guitar, which is not perfectly in tune no matter how you tune it.
I've though powersnail point is about different shapes and your comment is about True Temperament guitar , .
Do you think timbre is the reason we notice pitch changes? And we would not notice transposition if it was pure sine? I am sure going to test it  and will add pure sine instrument.
I play (hobby) harmonica and I feel them differently. I like dark tone of G (blues in D), bright and someone neutral tone of C, I have A and don't play it much. How can one explain this?
Do you experience Doppler effect on ski elevator? It was devastating. Can it be that harmonica trains ears to find a hole and bend notes? But any fretles instrument should have same requirement (violin).
Some people claim adults can't learn languages, while in reality we lack not neuron plasticity but time, patience, culture. Maybe skill learned by adult and child is different but serves same function. It is fine by me to learn "perfect ear equivalent". At least I can train myself and play with a kid, maybe he would acquire this skill in full potential.
In the linked above dissertation  AP have 80% accuracy (C4 to B5).
It's the same thing mechanics use to identify engine sounds quickly or why some people can tell who's walking on a hallway because of how the steps sound. Repeated exposition to a stimulus that then gets associated with something etches a memory.
This not only happens with perfect pitch. To for example know how to tell a major third from a minor third on all keys you can "memorize" all the sounds and know which one they are. I think my brain kinda did that and now I sometimes get confused with M3 and P5 because of how "similar" they sound even though you can like totally fit another tone comfortable between the root and the fifth and the root and the third don't have enough air for that.
If you are interested, see Chapter 3:
> Participants got significantly more trials correct when the timbre of the
trials was congruent with the participant’s primary instrument (M = 39.13 (out of 48) trials, SD =
11.26) as opposed to incongruent with it (M = 36.5 (out of 48) trials, SD = 13.7), [t(23) = 2.935,
p < .01].
Curious if this happens to others - you’ll hear a noise (e.g a glass hitting something, an object falling to the ground etc) that makes a single tone, and a song immediately starts playing in your head because it starts with that same tone?
My stand up desk at an old job was the starting pitch to Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love
minor 2nd : Jaws
major 2nd : Frere Jacques
Yep... intervals helped during music exams :)
I remember noticing in highschool that hitting a few different corrugated plastic gutter pipes in my backyard would allow playing the bass line to Crazy Train...in principle, i immediately recognize the notes to different beeps and alarms in daily life and think about it unconsciously.
Sometimes when I'm bored and microwaving something I'll try to match my hum to the microwave's tone and I sometimes do this when planes fly by too.
I never get it immediately but it usually syncs up after a few seconds.
Do you mean you can’t tell the difference between the two? My first thought is that the difference would be obvious, but I could be wrong. Is there a pair of recordings like this anywhere, so I can try it out?
Not sure if there are recordings like this, but you could use GarageBand, Audacity, or the like to pitch-shift a recording without changing the tempo.
I'm really fascinated by our ability to perceive relative pitch even without training. See, for example, how "detuning" by a few cents in lo-fi hip hop provides a very distinct feel to the genre, compared to playing the same tune in standard equal temperament tuning.
This makes me wonder why someone would want to have perfect pitch.
Other than that, it's mostly a cool parlor trick. The best story I've heard of someone who had it is that of Woody Shaw, the great jazz trumpet player. A piano player tried to test him on it once, and played a bunch of different chord voicings -- Woody correctly identified all the notes in each of them. Then, to up the challenge, the piano player played a random cluster of notes. Woody listed them all out, and the piano player replied, "Wrong," thinking he had finally stumped him. Then Woody replied, "Now take every note I just said down by a half step." Of course, Woody got them all right, and everybody's mind was blown.
Why wouldn't that be the case with someone who can "only" hear relative pitch? I mean, you start writing a note and from then on all other notes are relative to that note, where the actual pitch (in Hz) doesn't really matter.
"If I hear the same song played in C, and then in Db, the two of them will hit me emotionally the same."
For example the Schubert Impromptus Op.90/3 was written in Gb but published in G (for sales reasons). But Gb is dramatically more emotionally for me.
Something interesting is that before 12-tone equal temperament, you'd tune your instrument in just ratios (basically using harmonics/whole ratios), so there would actually be interval differences between keys.
A couple of months ago I found a very different method. The idea is is to internalize pitch by singing. For example, you play a triad on the piano and then sing the 3 notes individually. Or you train yourself to sing an interval. Say you're working on fifths. You play a C in the piano and then sing G, then play D and sing A, etc. I saw results within the first hour.
If anyone is interested I can try to find the video where I got this from.
Another method I can recommend is transcribing music by ear. You'll be amazed how quickly you will be able to find notes and then chords once you get more experience.
Then there is the inverse - melodic dictation. Not just identifying intervals, but chords, their qualities, and inversions.
The goal of these is to develop relative pitch, as it is assumed that adults would generally not be able to acquire perfect pitch.
I was just sharing my experience with ear training.
I'm mostly concentrating on confidence and quantity — one test / 5s, running hundreds of tests, trying to discard intervals and feel chroma.
The first step is always sight-singing. The teacher gave me a drone note (for example an A4), and I sang according to a sheet music. Not necessarily a triad, though.
Then, it's the other way around, where the teacher played on a piano, and I tried to figure out the note.
That's a demonstration of relative pitch, not absolute/perfect pitch.
> the teacher played on a piano, and I tried to figure out the note.
It makes sense that you'd be able to retain it for a little bit, but could you, say, walk into your lesson, cold from the prior week, and immediately the teacher hits a note, and you identify it, without practicing first?
I can; but that’s not because I have perfect pitch. I remember A4 (440 Hz) because I tune a violin daily. But compared with the real perfect pitch, my recall quickly fades in a few days if not practiced.
It was one of Rick Beato's videos, but he has so many about ear training that I cannot find the one where he goes through the basics of solfege.
1. The ability to immediately identify a pitch name from listening. This is the common definition. It is analogous to a native language speaker recognizing a spoken word -- it's automatic and requires no effort.
2. The ability to /recall/ a pitch from memory accurately. When you sing a tune, are you singing in the same key as the original recording? Some people can't do this.
3. The ability to identify a pitch name from listening, not immediately/reflexively but by mentally matching it against a well-remembered reference pitch. This requires (2) and also requires some work on your part, to remember a "catalog" of reference pitches.
4. Ability to recognize a chord type and root, either automatically (like #1) or by mental reference to some well-remembered chords (like #3). Of course, the root can be ambiguous and tricky to find.
I can't do #1 (immediate automatic pitch recognition) but once in a rare while it happens. I can do #2 easily -- mentally recall or sing any remembered tune within probably 25 cents. That means I can tune a newly-strung guitar, e.g., pretty well (though not perfectly) by just remembering a reference low E (first note in Airbag) or drop-D (first note in Everlong). I can do #3 with some mental effort -- requires me remembering my catalog of opening note for a handful of songs/pieces, and then doing a slow mental match.
All classically-trained music students learn to identify various chords and hear which note the root is, and only a small percentage of them have perfect pitch.
#1 and #2 in your list are definitely examples of perfect pitch, however. #3 is a bit more like extremely good relative pitch combined with above-average pitch memory that lasts longer than most people's.
But... when I watch, say, a video of Herbie Hancock copying another player's complex chord progression perfectly, there is clearly a harmonic+melodic version of "perfect pitch" for those few people who can hear music and reproduce it accurately.
Imagine for a moment that you could see all decimal numbers to 100 places, and it turned out that almost never was any number used by anyone else exactly x.0. Suddenly your world becomes full of "insignificant" but very distracting/annoying .9999887424151515 garbage. That, at least for me, is what absolute perfect pitch is like. (And thankfully, it can fade away as an ability just as it can arrive as one.)
Relative perfect pitch, which simply means you can accurately perceive relative distances between pitches, is very useful. I would expect that most experienced musicians (and some inexperienced but ?gifted? people) have this. It is also attainable, as nearly every other skill is.
If relative pitch is correct every tone would be shifted. I can imagine picture made entirely out of unusual colors — no red, yellow, orange, but red-orange, yellow-orange.
Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch
Absolute pitch, the ability to identify or produce the pitch of a sound without a reference point, has a critical period, i.e., it can only be acquired early in life. However, research has shown that histone-deacetylase inhibitors (HDAC inhibitors) enable adult mice to establish perceptual preferences that are otherwise impossible to acquire after youth. In humans, we found that adult men who took valproate (VPA) (a HDAC inhibitor) learned to identify pitch significantly better than those taking placebo—evidence that VPA facilitated critical-period learning in the adult human brain. Importantly, this result was not due to a general change in cognitive function, but rather a specific effect on a sensory task associated with a critical-period.
However someone with "true" perfect pitch is able to detect pitches across instruments (or even a sine wave) and can distinguish minute differences in pitch; for example, someone with perfect pitch can tell that an instrument has been tuned to A415 (a typical tuning for Baroque music) instead of the standard A440.
The difference between A=415 and A=440 is not "minute" at all; it's a full half-step difference!
Also, no: absolute pitch does not necessarily confer the ability to distinguish very small differences in pitch. Many people with perfect pitch can name a given note if played, but can't reliably identify if the pitch in question is 5 or 10 cents off. This is a common misconception.
I've been practicing for two weeks, currently on G3, C4, G4, C5, mostly confident (100 correct answers) though sometimes it tricks me.
Perfect pitch means that, if someone plays a sine wave with no context, you can tell what pitch it is.
"Hey Dave, what note is that?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"It's a G"
One of the other tales was someone with true perfect pitch could tell the difference between A at 440 vs 441 hz.
I played it to my coworker who was working in my lab, and he said: "I'm a singer and I have perfect pitch. THat isn't A440, it's slightly low. Probably one hertz."
I checked my code and indeed, I had miscomputed the timer, it was slightly longer than it should have been. Fixed the code and he confirmed it sounded better, but not absolutely perfect.
In North America (60 Hz grid frequency), I'm not quite sure whether one would recognise it as a A# (58.3 Hz) or a B (61.8 Hz).
What bothers me about that definition is that it doesn't specify accuracy. If I play a sine wave at 498.753 Hz, how many of those decimal places will someone with perfect pitch get correct? Since classical music is based on discrete notes with intervals of at least a semitone, maybe an error of less than half a semitone is acceptable, because that's enough to sort a note into the correct bucket? But then what's the average error for people who don't have perfect pitch?
> average error for people who don't have perfect pitch
I've tried once with a kid 10 years old, she expected and answered C, D, E, while I was playing same note (unison) with long pause on harmonica. Our perception skewed by our believes. I've heard same applies to drawing — one has to learn to see.
Click on "Test" to selects new sound and play it. Click buttons for answer, it plays sound if answer is wrong. I use it with eyes closed to concentrate on sound. Guess visual indication would be a good start. I've changed it so it marks wrong button with color until next "Test".
The idea is not to guess but to start with one sound, make it familiar, add another, etc.
In conservatories and other classical schools, they teach relative pitch recognition using the same techniques that have been used for centuries because pitch is so subjective. When I did it, they even used different keys to force the kids with perfect pitch and synesthesia (they gravitate towards music schools) to learn their intervals.
I've thought perfect pitch is a knowledge like "this note is G". You describe intuition as something different (or different from perfect pitch), maybe we need a special word for it?
Most people, even musicians, don't know that this talent exists. When I was in high school, there was someone who has this skill. He had started music when he was a very little. Most perfect pitch persons starts their music in their early ages. This person in my school "senses" pitches (I think it's similar to how we see colors.)
THERE'S NO KNOWN CASES OF ANY ADULT DEVELOPING PERFECT PITCH. There's a number of studies saying it cannot be developed as an adult.
However, I'm doing research for a few months and trying to develop perfect pitch myself (I have a fine relative pitch). None has worked for now. I strongly believe there must be a way for adults to develop this.
My thoughts on this app: It may help to improve something called "tone identification", but that instinct of having perfect pitch is completely different.
By the way, anyone here have perfect pitch (possibility is 1/10000)?
(For any one interested, search Youtube for perfect pitch. There's a lot of fascinating stories)
Thankfully, he knew what perfect pitch was and after figuring out the disconnect, explained it to me. I honestly thought he was lying until I asked other folks in the class and found out they couldn’t identify the notes by ear either. I just assumed it was something I learned to do as a part of the class instruction.
I wouldn’t say I have any attached feelings/synesthesia to particular notes besides their western names.
1. Ctrl-t to hear the sound
2. Ctrl-* to give answer
3. Wrong if hear sound, try again (2)
4. Correct if no sound, take next sound (1)
Unfortunately can't check on Safari yet, any errors in console?
(anonymous function) (perfect-pitch-ear-training:20)
(anonymous function) (perfect-pitch-ear-training:29)
per MDN, AudioContext() is implemented as webkitAudioContext() in Safari.
let AudioContext = window.AudioContext || window.webkitAudioContext
??? How so? Is not this problem all of (ok, "all" of us not musically inclined) has? Perfect pitch isn't important in music anyway... relative pitch is way more useful and is actually learnable.
I want immediate recall, I can add forms one by one. And that is the only difference with linked tool.
I must say though, watching videos of his kid demonstrate perfect pitch is quite astounding!
Different cultures has different color naming schemes. I have hardware problems on color perception (protanomaly) yet I can learn new color names. Looking at children it takes years to learn color names.
His example of learning — pressing keys on the piano and saying name — is incorrect. It should be game, music is game. We live in the age of unprecedented gamification. Maybe it is possible to make baby steps. Some people claim they've internalized F#, ok internalize every note.
He is right that recognition should be instantaneous. His real argument — teaching has not been achieved as course, probably it is impossible, I'll try.
I probably could do better to embrace failure like you but when I'm on a streak I don't want to lose it
Also, how do you answer sharps or flats? It just has the natural notes as answers.