View Full Version : Perfect pitch

03-27-2006, 09:59 AM
How do you get it? I've read countless times about people having it in their early years, like ages 6 onwards, all developed naturally, so I'm wondering how it is possible to attain it. I have a book called Contemporary Ear Training, but it's ridiculous, the book is enourmous, and that's just to get relative pitch, and I don't like the idea of spending 6 months getting through a book like this, when there are obviously easier ways to go about getting perfect pitch, and it's not true that it takes 30 years of solfeg training, it doesn't take any.

03-27-2006, 10:14 AM
Check out this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_pitch

I donīt think perfect pitch can be obtained. However, I do believe that you can train your relative pitch to a point where it resembles the results of perfect pitch

03-27-2006, 10:30 AM
Well, you can buy loads of programs and books as a way to gain perfect pitch, so it has to be possible one way or another. For instance, what I was thinking of doing, is making little files in reason of each note, so 7 bars of C with 7 octaves, and if I listen to that for an amount of time each day, surely my brain will eventually remember the C sound, and it will just register in my head when I hear it. Maybe it won't work like that, but I'll give it a try.

03-27-2006, 10:36 AM
Sure, give it a try, would be interested to see whether it works. We had a discussion about this before ( I remember it became quite heated )
You see, I just checked out one of those sites: http://www.absolutepitcheartraining.com/perfectpitchtest.html

I just wonder whether you can actually recognize the note by their "character". After all, you get two hear two notes, F# and Eb. So by listening to one note before another, you still establish an "axis", like with relative pitch.
However, give it a try...

03-27-2006, 10:39 AM
if you don't have perfect or relative pitch by the time you are 5 it's going to take years to develop regardless of what method you use. For us mortals, ear training is a life long persuit just like the rest of music.

It can be learned. Maybe not to the point of people that are born with it, but you can go beyond just memorizing frequencies. There is a huge long thread somewhere in this section on learning perfect pitch that gets brought back from the dead every couple of months. I'd suggest reading that.

Everyone seems to be drawn to the mystery of perfect pitch and maybe for good reason as it is a very abstract phenominom. But in the end relative pitch is infinately more useful. Infact I've yet to come up with a real consistant use for perfect pitch, except for a kind of party trick. But then I haven't worked on it in about 6 months and it is going to take a couple more years of consistant hard work to get up to anything that may be useable. But relative pitch is finally starting to consistantly play a solid role in everything I do and play, so for me the development of that is far more important.

03-27-2006, 10:44 AM
Well, I'll put all the files of each note into my mp3 player, and give it a trial of 6 months, I'll tell you if it works.

03-27-2006, 10:47 AM
I agree... I never found myself thinking "Dang, if I only had perfect pitch". it just never came to mind. Even though there are limits to relative pitch, it works fine for me.
Someone with perfect pitch might be able to hear a song on the radio and easily tell the exact notes, chords etc.
When I hear a song on the radio, I often can figure out the relation of the notes ( progressions, melodies ). All I need is to figure out the first note or the key signature on the guitar later on, and "move" the things I heard to the correct key. Usually, I am even pretty close to the correct key signature.
Last night, I heard some pop / reggae tune on the radio. By listening, I figured out the chord progression ( a basic one ). I grabbed my guitar and tried to figure out the key signature. My first attempt was E maj, and it was the correct one. Doensīt work everytime, but often.

03-27-2006, 10:57 AM
Sure, give it a try, would be interested to see whether it works. We had a discussion about this before ( I remember it became quite heated )
You see, I just checked out one of those sites: http://www.absolutepitcheartraining.com/perfectpitchtest.html

I just wonder whether you can actually recognize the note by their "character". After all, you get two hear two notes, F# and Eb. So by listening to one note before another, you still establish an "axis", like with relative pitch.
However, give it a try...

well I'm living proof that it is possible. I believe I stated my story in that discussion you mentioned, so I won't go into detail.

The idea of recognizing "character" is just another somewhat poor way of explaining sounds with words. I've heard people explain it with colours, or moods, or characters, or smells, or feelings or whatever. When really an F# sounds like an F# because it sounds like an F#. You can't explain it any other way, which may be confusing for anyone who hasn't experienced it. I suppose if I really thought about it an F# is bright, but not in a vibrant way, but all that is besides the point. That would be kind of like having amazing relative pitch but still thinking of a particular tune whenever you play a certain interval. It may have been helpful at some point but it's not really necessary for the development nor the end result.

You mentioned how you still establish an axis like relative pitch, which is actually sort of true, just not in the way you are probably thinking of. Once you really start to hear what the individual notes sound like they develop at different rates. The first one I ever heard somewhat properly was a G, after about 10000 attempts. When I first heard an Ab it was very similar to a G, but nothing like an A. So you develop an axis based on how you hear previous notes you learned. For example, you hear a note and figure it sounds like an Ab, which means it might also be a G, or even an F#, but it's certainly not an A. Kind of like mistaking a perfect 4th for a perfect 5th but never mistaking it for a tritone.

03-27-2006, 11:09 AM
just another thing I'd like to add, which I think is especially true for people just starting ear training.

don't go looking for something that will make everything you hear perfect and completely defined so you always know what is going on. That isn't the point, but I think it's part of the reason why people are drawn to perfect pitch. It took me quite a while to realize that good music defies explanation. When you hear an amazing song the last thing you are going to be thinking of is the chord progression. Sometimes it may pop out, but it's just an afterthought.

For me, when I hear guys like Keith Jarret or Kurt Rosenwinkel, I don't hear theory, or chord progressions, or intervalic melodies. I hear/see colours, shapes and pictures dancing around in my head. The last thing on my mind is defining what exactly is going on.

03-27-2006, 12:52 PM
That doesnt make sense about the age 5 or 6 thing. What about Yngwie? He never took music seriously until he was much older than that. I dont recall that he had ear training either. The only thing I can think of then would be the classical music being a big part of him developing it.

03-27-2006, 02:52 PM
If you check out the article at Wikipedia... well, in a nutshell, the theory is that itīs not something that, at that age, is developed by particular training ( "Like, ok, I have a newborn, I am gonna train him" ).
In the article, it says ( and I have heard this before ), that there are more people in the asian part of the world with perfect pitch, and this is probably caused by the fact that the languages there rely on pitches a lot.
For years, it was said that perfect pitch is just something youīre being born with, and I have met people who have it and never had any particular music training between 3 to 6 years old.
So it seems as if science isnīt quite clear on how it actually is developed, or what is responsible for you having it. Foggy topic.

03-27-2006, 03:23 PM
Yeah, there is like nothing much about it. I'm going to try this idea anyway, I don't see how it cannot work. I mean, if you get used to being around a few people for a long time for instance, you get used to the sound of their accents, to a point where you can know their vioce in your head right away, and when you're at work, or at college, or whatever, if that person calls you, it instantly registers that it's Mike, or Tom, or Lisa, or whoever. So, if you get used to listening to the notes, actually listening to them, and spending time to listen to a particular note everyday, eventually it will just embed itself in your head. I just don't see how it can't work, but I'll find out eventually ;)

03-27-2006, 03:24 PM
there are exceptions to every rule. & Yngwie did start out very young & he was in a musical family. :)

PP is like a broken record. I can usually hear A, or sing it perfectly, but it doesn't help me at all. My pitch memory is good enough that I could probably fool most people into thinking I have PP, but it's more a factor of developing my relative pitch (RP) for so many years. When I'm jamming (in a band or to a song) I can pick up the chord progression in about 2 seconds due to my RP, and my fingers go to the right spots without thinking about it. This is due to lots of practice and lots of work on RP.

03-27-2006, 06:41 PM
I just paid for this course from absolutepitchpower.com, it promises a refund, and it's only Ģ24, so I thought it's worth a try, it uses NLP, which is always appealing. It is basically the same thing as I had in mind, except associating something with each note, and using accelerated learning methods. It's worth ago, I'll evaluate the progress and tell you whether it is worth it or not. I got 21-101 from the first listening test, so, not good, most were guesses, and a few was trying to use relative pitch, which you're not supposed to, so I am completely useless at this point, which is probably a good thing.

03-27-2006, 09:10 PM
if you are going to use a program I should give you one piece of advise.

Every perfect pitch excersize I've ever heard of that gets you to test yourself on your instrument is pretty much next to useless unless someone is testing you. If you know the notes, muscle memory will immediately narrow it down to within a semi tone or two. And if you don't know the notes it's more of an excersize in learning them then in perfect pitch.

03-27-2006, 09:33 PM
as for the other comments, maybe I didn't explain myself very clearly.

We can't really debate how someone obtains perfect pitch because no one really knows and in the end it's kind of besides the point. The point I was trying to make is that at the age of 5 or 6 if you realize "hey, I can tell what all these notes are" it's going to be there for the rest of your life fully realized regardless of how you ended up with it. But for the rest of us that want to learn this ability later in life it's going to take hundreds of hours and it's a life long persuit. Why? Well the only thing I think is compareable to is learning a second language. Why is it 10 times harder to learn a second language when your 20 then when your 6? Well by the time we're past a certain age we start to have these self imposed restrictions on our abilities. Children are just blank slates that are completely unaware of what's possible and what's not. Half the battle for us older folks is convincing ourselves that it's possible. Of course it's possible, but it's just going to take 10 times the effort, which I'm sure Mr. Malmsteen put in.

03-28-2006, 03:51 AM
I don't think it's as difficult as learning a new langauge, there's only 12 notes after all :D

05-11-2006, 05:40 PM
im doing david lucas burge perfect pitch course. and its really working! i can now sing every single note, and i hear alot of them to. i can still only hear the colours when playing a piano. but its just practise. all the people claiming that you have to be born with it is so wrong. and the people who took the course, claiming its all bad have no idea. you have to get inside the note and feel its colour. you can try playing a f# and a Eb. listen closely and you will find that the f# its like a stop sign and the Eb is more. mellow. its all there, you only have to listen for the colour.

05-22-2006, 01:56 PM
How do you get over the "tip of the tongue" thing?

When I hear a note, I can name it with 97% accuracy.

However, sometimes when I hear a note, I know what it is in my head, I see the "color" but the name of it will not come to mind - yet, I can walk to a piano and play it just fine.

P.S. I think I've had PP since I was a child, but I only found out that it had a name and how to use it about three years ago. Every note has always had a distinct soud to me, but professors trained me to use relative pitch and only one realized my perfect pitch potential.

01-09-2008, 05:16 PM
I have known for years that I cannot tell what note is being played on the piano In a test for Perfect pitch, but to all you people out there who wonder about P.Pitch, fear not,because I have been able to play correctly by ear the chords/harmonies to most of the popular tunes and ballads that I encountered during many years of playing the accordion and piano in dance bands. I never had a music lesson in my life, having bought any books or other material which I needed to have,in order to teach myself!even before I learned about chords, I was able to play correctly most popular tunes of the day So! Perfect Pitch is not neccessarily a prerequisite to being a musician or composer, in fact P Pitch has no practical value except for being an asset if you happen to be an instrument tuner or other!!

someone plays on the piano