I was reading how a very small amount of people have perfect pitch and how it's very hard for adults to develop it.

So I was wondering if maybe there's a hack where I can only limit the notes to a scale and then instead of having to choose between 12 notes I could just limit the choices to the 7 notes of a scale.

Is it fairly easy to achieve that with enough practice? also, is it still called perfect pitch to do that or is it called relative pitch?

  • 1
    Perfect pitch isn't "choosing between 12 notes." A person with perfect pitch can hear a single note and say something like "that is about 1/4 of a semitone sharper than a C", or whatever it might be.
    – user19146
    Aug 15, 2018 at 23:44
  • "So I was wondering if maybe there's a hack" - are you looking for a way to "cheat" and pretend you have perfect pitch when you don't? What's the point of doing that?
    – user19146
    Aug 15, 2018 at 23:46
  • @alephzero hah no. I meant hack as in "can I make it easier on myself by doing this". also I find it more applicable to what I'm doing anyway since most of the music I play is diatonic.
    – user34288
    Aug 15, 2018 at 23:48
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What are some useful and effective exercises for training absolute pitch?
    – Aaron
    Sep 7, 2020 at 6:37

2 Answers 2


First, I should pass along that people who have more experience with perfect pitch than I do emphatically state that true perfect pitch (hearing a note and instantly knowing what pitch it is) cannot be learned as an adult. There may be agreement or disagreement, but that is what I'm told, and being in the field of music for years, I've never met anyone who's learned it as an adult.

Second, perfect pitch is not really necessary, and the only real benefit I can see between having absolute pitch and having 100% relative pitch is that perfect pitch makes a great party trick. It is just as useful to learn relative pitch (knowing all intervals and knowing all scale degrees by ear), and that can be learned. It sounds like the 7-note scale "hack" you're recommending is similar to learning scale degrees, which is extremely useful and doable.

Lastly, to qualify my statement, what you could learn is pitch memory. This is best learned by learning an intro/beginning of a song for each key and drilling yourself on it until you can hear it in that key in your head. Then when asked to sing a C, for instance, you play the beginning of your "C" song in your head, and you can hear and reproduce it. This is not true perfect pitch, and in my experience requires more work than it is useful. Also if you stop drilling the songs, your pitch memory will start to go -- it's not a one-and-done thing.

Bottom line, train yourself on relative pitch. I have completely accurate relative pitch, and I've never run across something that I absolutely needed perfect pitch to do.

Hope this helps!


Yes, it's conceivable that this could be a good training strategy. Start by trying to learn a limited range of pitches. Makes sense.

Of course, once you've got ONE pitch right, you're going to find it hard to seperate Perfect Pitch from Relative Pitch.

I suggest you don't worry too much about developing Perfect Pitch. Work on your Relative Pitch - recognising intervals from a known starting point rather than plucking notes out of thin air. It's 99% as musically useful.
A degree of Perfect Pitch will probably emerge.

  • I'm guessing that 'known starting point' would be the tonic of the scale.
    – user34288
    Aug 16, 2018 at 0:00
  • Not necessarily. But that would make it easier for a start. The eventual aim is to, having 'got your bearings' from any reference note, to recognise ANY other one. The small step to Perfect Pitch simply requires you to work from your own internal reference.
    – Laurence
    Aug 16, 2018 at 0:29

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