I only meet some of the criteria of perfect pitch.

Whenever I hear a note, I can name a song or piece starting with it. I also remember the right key of music I hear, and, when I try to play it on the violin (which I've played for many years) or the piano, I am in the right key. Additionally, I play the right key when whistling, humming, etc.

Despite that, if I hear a note, I usually will not be able to call it by name - except for the notes E, A, D, and G. (which are the violin strings)

Do I have perfect pitch?

  • How can you claim you know a piece beginning with a specific note, when plenty of tunes/songs are performed in different keys as desired by the performer? Apr 12, 2017 at 11:52
  • 1
    @CarlWitthoft because recorded music is a thing.
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:46
  • @CarlWitthoft sorry if that was a little flippant. But for example if I want a concert pitch note to tune to, I'll just think of a record that I've heard a lot of times that's that can give me it. To get a concert A I usually just think of "that bit" of the chain by fleetwood mac for example. For F, I'll think of "Hey Jude", etc. I don't have concert pitch because if I heard a cover band playing those tunes in a different key I wouldn't notice, but if I deliberately "remember" the version I know, it always comes into my head at the recording's pitch, for some reason.
    – Some_Guy
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:50
  • Remembering the right key (your term) has little to do with pitch and all to do with memory, hasn't it?
    – Tim
    Apr 12, 2017 at 16:02
  • @Some_Guy Here's an interesting experiment, if you're interested: Acquire an exact duplicate of that recording, but transpose it by variable amounts, then see if you can tell which one is the original by ear.
    – user45266
    Mar 21, 2019 at 1:12

2 Answers 2


If what you are saying is correct, than what you are describing is, indeed, perfect pitch. Congratulations! If you can consistently identify songs that begin with any particular note, then you could hypothetically memorize the keys of 12 songs and then be able to name any note that you hear.

To be perfectly clear: begin able to name the notes by letter is merely a way to prove that you have perfect pitch. You can have perfect pitch without being able to name the notes. An individual with no musical training (and who therefore is unaware of note names broadly) can still have perfect pitch. It would just be harder to verify.

Also be aware that this is not a strict binary. You don't either have perfect pitch or not have perfect pitch. You can have weaker or stronger perfect pitch, and you can (to some degree) train to improve what you have. Folks with extremely strong perfect pitch can sometimes identify how many cents off an out-of-tune note is from the standard, and can name notes even when there are distracting elements present (such as other notes playing).

By contrast, if you had to mentally refer back to one of the 4 violin notes, and could only identify notes that were played on their own (with no harmonic context), then this would be a weaker skill. However, as mentioned, you could still improve it with training.


Actually, having this is a pretty common occurrence. You have what people dub perfect "relative" pitch.

Informally, musicians with perfect "relative" pitch are able to identify a reference note (or in your case, four notes). Then, the musician would be able to compare and find the interval between a given note and one of your reference notes, and therefore identify the name of the note.

  • 1
    Thank you very much! I just want to clear the point to make sure you understood me correctly- I can play a song or a musical piece from memory in the right scale even if it is not one of the 4 notes I mentioned, just because I remember the notes right , even without naming them.. does that apply to your answer as well?..
    – R.fineman
    Apr 11, 2017 at 20:27
  • Yes, it does! In that case, your "reference" pitch would be the first note of the piece, in which all the other notes are based off your first note. (again, it is common for people to remember the first note of pieces) Apr 11, 2017 at 20:30
  • Just want to add that perfect "relative" pitch is an informal name that people use, but the concept of reference pitches are still there. Apr 11, 2017 at 20:31

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