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What is the best/easiest/most efficient way of developing perfect pitch?

Note: What I mean by perfect pitch is the ability to distinct a certain note from another. In other words being able to recognize the note name (e.g. A, F#, etc.) from hearing it.

Note: I have seen the other posts about perfect pitch but none of them answer my question of the best METHOD.

If you downvoted this question, please explain why

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Factual answer - if you don't already have perfect (absolute) pitch, there's a darned good chance you never will.

Absolute pitch is the ability to hear any sound and recognise its pitch - either in Hz or more commonly in musical letter name. For both, one needs to have experience in either acoustics (maybe) and/or music.

Most people, certainly trained musicians, will have developed relative pitch, which involves playing/singing another note related to one listened to. That happens pretty well unconsciously while practising.

The best you could probably do is to attain 'specific pitch recognition'. Not an official condition, I think! For me, that involved singing a note (middle C, as it happens, considered as the M3 of key A♭), every time I walked past a piano or other instrument, and checking it by playing said instrument. You could mentally reference the first note of a particular tune you play, or listen to. I've done it for several years now, and get it spot on 8/10 times. The others are within a semitone, so it's not there yet! Obviously, any other note subsequent to that is easy to name using relative pitch. But that's certainly not absolute pitch, or anything near to it. I guess it could be extended by hearing any note, and mentally comparing it to your 'known note'.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; Please discuss in chat. – Doktor Mayhem May 19 at 9:59
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Since perfect pitch is something acquired when the brain is still very plastic the first thing you need to do is get a time machine to take you back to when you were a baby. Next find a way to communicate to your parents that they have to spend a lot of their time playing "high information music" to you to help you develop the "vocabulary" of musical pitch. Modern jazz or Bach would be excellent.

Rick Beato's son has perfect pitch and he discusses perfect pitch, what it is and how to train your very young child to give him/her the best chance of developing it in this YouTube video.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; Please discuss in chat. – Doktor Mayhem May 19 at 10:00
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As far as I know from people who have do and don't (like me) have perfect pitch, you cannot acquire it. You are born with it or not. However, it does deteriorate with age.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; Please discuss in chat. – Doktor Mayhem May 19 at 10:00
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There is a lot of fuzz over this subject, but here is my 2 cents:

Born with or learned?

What is called perfect (or absolute) pitch refers to the ability of recalling an auditory (mechanical) frequency as perceived by our ears. People trained with our tonal system learn to associate a 440 Hz wave to the note "A", 466.16 Hz as "A#" and so on. Of course this only works in our audible range. Most people have what is called relative pitch, which is the ability of recognizing intervals of two notes. This is more like "frequency subtraction" in the brain, and does not rely on absolute memorization of a frequency, therefore is much easier to learn.

As with many other abilities, some people seem to be better than other, either do to intrinsic factors (genetics, health, etc) or external (musical education, etc). Some abilities are more on the acquired side and some are easy to learn. It is the popular opinion that perfect pitch is an innate ability, and that people "without it" can only perfect their relative pitch, but their brain is just not able to store and memorize an absolute frequency.

Analogy with sight and color

Related to you comment to @ttw, it is funny that you bring the subject of naming colors, as it is somewhat similar. A color is also defined by its wavelenght. What we call "green" is a collection of diverse wavelengths as percieved by our eyes. But what if I say, a specific hue of green that is defined by the exact wavelength of X, would you be able to always recognize this special hue? Our eyes are sensible enough that we can easily differentiate one wavelength from another up to at a certain threshold, defined by the sensitivity of our eyes. Take the same hue and artifically alter the wavelength by a small amount: How big of a change can our eyes percieve? Would you be able to recognize this different color without having the first one as a reference?

In this case, there could be "absolute color observers", people that can memorize the exact wavelength of a color at a smaller range than normal people.

How good are our eyes and our ears depends on physiological reasons. This defines the thresholds of what we can detect as human beings. With that as a basis, we can train and learn for our brain to interpret the signals, but if our detection organs aren't good enough, no learning nor training will be enough.

I hope this gave you an intuition on why some believe that absolute hearing is something you are "born with" while other people believe you can learn it. It is definitely not a trivial answer.

Training to recognize pitches

That said, you can work on your memorization of pitches. Choose songs or pieces that start with a pitch you remember and train yourself to be able to recognize that pitch. For example "La Campanella" by Liszt as a constant D#, or the famous Eb Nocturne by Chopin starts with a Bb. Most people would learn a couple of notes and then find others by the interval (relative pitch). If you want to simulate having a perfect pitch you would need to memorize all 12 tones independently. There is no shortcut and requires a lot of constant practice, but in theory can be done.

You will see there are kids that can do this with ease at very young ages. They are what you would call people with born perfect pitch (obviously learned, but with little to no effort).

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; Please discuss in chat. – Doktor Mayhem May 19 at 10:01
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I have sort of learned perfect pitch. But only sort of.

My old youth orchestra conductor (Shout out to Dr. Alpizar! He's the best!) used to always sing our parts to us using American-style movable-Do solfege. I was enthralled by this, and learned the skill myself. It's not that hard to pick up--there are apps that make practicing easy. Now I waltz the house singing pop songs and TV show theme songs in solfege.

He told me, and I have noticed myself, that once you have good relative pitch, if you practice your instrument frequently, you can approximate perfect pitch, because your mind and fingers know how you would play that pitch on your instrument. I've found that this seems to work best with instruments like violin or clarinet, that have a distinctly different feel for playing each note.

In fact, I noticed that I could figure out pitches to some degree even before I learned relative pitch, because I could envision in my head what finger/string I would use to play a pitch on my violin. But it has been greatly enhanced by learning solfege. I have a friend who is actually perfect pitch, but even though I wasn't born with it, when I'm in practice, we usually have similar (high) success rates in guessing pitches.

To learn the skill:

  1. Learn an especially tactile instrument such as violin or clarinet(not piano--all of the keys feel the same to me)

  2. Stay in practice!!!

  3. Develop relative pitch--either through American solfege or whatever other method you choose.

Essentially, I have relative pitch, but when I'm in practice, my reference pitches are permanent.

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    I could understand the concept with fixed do, but how can it work with movable do? – Tim May 18 at 6:27
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    @Tim Since movable-do works with recognizing scale degrees, all a proficient user of it really needs is a reference pitch, and then for all intents and purposes, they have "perfect pitch"--able to recognize and/or produce any note that they please. But the idea of actual perfect pitch is being able to do this without requiring a reference pitch, which is why having an enduring reference pitch can create the illusion of perfect pitch. I suppose fixed do could also help, but I really know nothing about it XD – General Nuisance May 18 at 15:08
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    Fixed do is always C. Whatever key the piece is in, any C in it is called do. Your idea of a reference pitch somehow negates the idea of AP. If one has a reference point, can't see how solfege can help, because the answer's already there! And an 'enduring pitch' - that could be any note in any key, and thus any name in the solfege. At least with fixed do, it's concrete. – Tim May 18 at 15:39
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    @Tim What do you mean by AP? – General Nuisance May 18 at 16:03
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    @Tim Ah, thank you. If you read my comment again, I'm pretty sure we're more agreed than you think. Having read your answer, I think what I refer to in my answer is basically what describe as Specific Pitch Recognition, coupled with solid relative pitch ear training. Relative-do is just relative pitch--I even suggest that what I describe could be achieved with atonal interval training as well. It's just how I learned it. Also, I have several semi-permanent references (basically all of first position on a violin), which further assists. – General Nuisance May 18 at 20:07
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The best and easiest way is to choose a couple of parents with perfect pitch when planning your next incarnation.

The second successful method is to buy a chip and implant it in your brain.

I’ve been called a "virtuouso" concerning my relative pitch by Nora Kresz, my solfege teacher at the conservatory.

But I’ve never reached my aim to get perfect pitch.

I can train with a tuning fork, I can remember the A 440 - I can hear the sound of the A when only looking at the fork or touching it (conditioned reflex) but it gets lost by a single noise of a motor or an atonal concert or even when music is modulating too fast that I can’t follow with analyzing.

I agree with Aimee Nolte that there is a way to remember our earliest songs of our childhood and develop the intervals from a given fixed tone. But the result is still relative pitch.

Another attempt is to derive the pitch from my voice range. As this is variable - my goal is only an approximation.

P.p. can also be trained when we are tuning a guitar or a string instrument. But this pitch isn’t usually permanent.

You have to find out which way is the most successful individually for your - if there is one.

Train your ear and you relative pitch by sight reading and composing and analyzing chords and progressions, singing fugues, recording all parts. Writing music, notating by hand and humming, not by keyboard and computer, is the best way.

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I suspect you need persistent exposure to notes at a consistent pitch. Although I am not sure how/why I have perfect pitch, I suspect that the fact that my childhood home (from age 13 months) happened to be very close to a church with a bell-tower. Every hour (day and night) was rung. Every Sunday morning, for about 30 minutes, the bell-ringers would ring various permutations of the notes within an E-flat major scale.

Some musicians have developed a less comprehensive form of perfect pitch in that they can identify the pitch of any note played by their own instrument. Presumably, through dedicated practice, they have subconsciously managed to distinguish the timbral idiosyncracies of each note. So, if living near an active bell-tower for decades is not an option for you, you could try practising lots of scales or other repeating patterns on your instrument...

But anyway, perfect pitch is not always advantageous; it can be a liability if you want to transpose (a singer may well request his/her accompanist to transpose the song up or down to suit his/her voice better) or play at Baroque pitch (although, with enough practice, a person with perfect pitch can reorient himself/herself to Baroque pitch).

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    A bell-tower with bells of a consistent pitch?! Never experienced that! However, just like the repetition of practising, it's a good way. I work with a lot of guitarists, and every one uses an electronic tuner. Eventually, (as in lack of practice), I believe none of them will be able to get even close to in tune without such an aid in the future. Happily I rarley use one, and often re-string a guitar to pretty darned close, by ear. +1. – Tim May 19 at 10:13
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You need a plastic brain for it. However, you can acquire a plastic brain with certain medications. None of these medications are approved for use to acquire perfect pitch, and they could lead to additional changes in core personality traits. However, specific studies have been conducted with successful results in teaching perfect pitch to adults.

https://www.npr.org/2014/01/04/259552442/want-perfect-pitch-you-could-pop-a-pill-for-that

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    Keep in mind that all brains are plastic--it is a trait that diminishes with age, but it never goes away. I had never heard of a drug that rejuvenates plasticity--perhaps we have found the holy grail? XD – General Nuisance May 18 at 15:18
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I don't know if it's fair to mention YouTubers here, but I think you should definitely check Rick Beato - he's a producer / musican and his boy has acquired perfect pitch. As far as I remember the reason was extensive exposure to complicated music at very young age. Unfortunately he states, that as an adult it's impossible to get perfect pitch. Please check his videos on that topic for more info. He even presents how he plays very complicated chords and his kid just tells them like they are written right before him.

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    I haven't watched the videos--at what age does Beato define "adult"? My experience is that I started developing absolute pitch in Grade 8 at age 13. – Dekkadeci May 18 at 18:42

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