43 votes
Accepted

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

As someone with absolute pitch and trained in A440 12-tone equal temperament (i.e. the usual) with plenty of vocal music as a backup, I perceive notes that are several cents out of tune as "off" ...
Dekkadeci's user avatar
  • 13.3k
23 votes

If someone can sing a melody, why can they not also recognize the intervals within that melody?

I think the answer boils down to what you mean by "knowing" the intervals. To do this [sing a tune back] you surely need to be able to know the intervals in the tune you have just heard and then ...
Richard's user avatar
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21 votes

Do we have any particular tonal center in mind when we are NOT listening music?

Remember that music isn't the only thing that has pitch. Most sounds in the natural world have a pitch as well, and a random sound outside could temporarily get stuck in our ears as a possible tonic. ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 83.2k
19 votes

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

I don't think I agree with what you have been told. Perfect pitch is the ability to memorize, and recall, pitches. Now just because you can do it doesn't mean that you always actually do it. If ...
JimM's user avatar
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18 votes

Is it possible to have perfect pitch but zero sense of relative pitch?

I can share two anecdotes that suggest to me that, yes, these are two different skills that unfortunately can lead to someone with absolute pitch having no relative pitch (or at least very under-...
Richard's user avatar
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17 votes
Accepted

Transcribing as music and relative pitch practice?

Transcribing music is EXCELLENT ear training practice. I like to tell students that transcribing one song to completion is like an entire semester of ear training. Don’t just listen for intervals and ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
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17 votes
Accepted

Perfect pitch on only one instrument?

You might be listening to the timbre of the different notes. I remember watching this video , where the person describes learning perfect pitch from the timbre of the instrument. His process is to ...
awe lotta's user avatar
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12 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between perfect pitch, pitch memorization and relative pitch?

Perfect (or absolute) pitch is the ability to instantly recognize a note or to instantly produce the sound of a requested pitch. Someone with absolute pitch can immediately sing for you a D♭, or they ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 83.2k
12 votes

Eartraining: What to learn after mastering interval recognition?

(This could be closed as opinion-based, but I also think there's only one answer...) Learn scale-degree functions. Each scale degree has its own particular function, and therefore its own particular ...
Richard's user avatar
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11 votes

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

The 440Hz reference point is a convention, but it's very consistently used. This means that if you can sense it, you will likely form your entire understanding of harmony and music with this included ...
cloudfeet's user avatar
  • 508
11 votes

Is it possible to have perfect pitch but zero sense of relative pitch?

Yes, one can have perfect pitch but not relative pitch. Here's a question from SE Music Practice and Theory seeking help with exactly that issue: How can I develop relative pitch if I have perfect ...
Aaron's user avatar
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11 votes

Is it possible to have perfect pitch but zero sense of relative pitch?

I can answer this question first hand. I have absolute pitch. It used to be very close to "perfect pitch", although it has degraded a little as I have got older. I do not have any sense of ...
Dawood ibn Kareem's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Which Blues notes are deliberately flattened?

Tim is correct that it's about the 3rd, 5th, and 7th, but I don't agree that in the blues they are flattened by exactly one semi-tone. That is an approximation when writing down the notes or when ...
Matt L.'s user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Sometimes I naturally sing songs in the right key. Do I have perfect (absolute) pitch?

The Levitin Effect The ability to intuitively sing a song in the key your originally heard it is known as the Levitin Effect.1 It is a cognitive ability separate from absolute (perfect) pitch insofar ...
Aaron's user avatar
  • 75.4k
8 votes

Can someone have perfect/relative pitch without knowing it?

A few answers: It's definitely possible for non-musicians to have perfect pitch without being quite aware of it. If one starts to play an instrument, or study music, however, one will quickly become ...
MMazzon's user avatar
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7 votes
Accepted

Is absolute pitch acquired by training, genetic or both? And if possible, is it much harder than relative pitch?

There are elements of both. The genetic side Some people have amusia, the inability to discern pitch. These people can't identify common melodies and struggle to tell voices apart. Some people have ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
7 votes

Recognizing intervals without interval songs?

Recognizing intervals is purely a matter of memory recollection. Hence, the most important aspect of interval training is the amount of time you spend practicing, not the particular technique you use ...
jdjazz's user avatar
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7 votes

Absolute/relative pitch?

Oddly enough, Absolute / Relative pitch actually exist in practice on a continuum. You yourself even alluded to this continuum. Instrumentalists often develop absolute pitch relative to their ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
  • 25.4k
7 votes

Do we have any particular tonal center in mind when we are NOT listening music?

If you have absolute pitch, then no.1 will be the answer. No.2 for most people, when they will still be able to whistle or hum the tune in question, but having a random note as tonal centre/root/...
Tim's user avatar
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7 votes

Perfect Pitch vs Relative Pitch, which is Considered Better

This topic is often very difficult because of terms that have vague or conflicting definitions, and a certain amount of misinformation or myth. I would recommend you throw out your working definitions ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
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6 votes

Is relative pitch trainable from scratch?

Absolutely. And pretty well essential for any serious player. One should be able to pitch any interval from a given note, hopefully vocally, and certainly on your instrument. Even if one doesn't ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 186k
6 votes
Accepted

Why do humans have relative pitch?

The reason why we are able to learn relative pitch is found in psychoacoustics. In order to make sense of the jumble of frequencies that reaches our ear we are able to group certain frequencies and ...
Tim H's user avatar
  • 5,080
5 votes

What level of pitch interval perception is typically necessary for a child to be considered to have some aptitude for violin study?

My experience as a teacher of violin is that the ability to recognize pitch differences is not important when considering one's aptitude for playing violin. Training the ear is as much a skill as ...
Emily Williams's user avatar
5 votes

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

An addendum, rather than replacement for the two existing answers... I don't have perfect pitch, but I have good relative pitch. I have two friends with 'perfect' pitch. The thing is, 'perfect' ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
  • 25.9k
5 votes

What is the term for people who sing lower pitch?

People who simply cannot sing, aim for the octave down & still fail to hit anything properly are generally known as groaners, a term I first heard in about 1967. [possibly related to the same term ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
  • 25.9k
5 votes

Perfect pitch on only one instrument?

If you have perfect pitch then it doesn't matter if it's an instrument, voice or the hum of an electronic device. It sounds to me like you have developed very good relative pitch. Since you are most ...
Jomiddnz's user avatar
  • 5,035
5 votes

If someone can sing a melody, why can they not also recognize the intervals within that melody?

I'm going to take this one from the perspective of someone who's long earned a living by being able to sing well, yet has an abysmal pitch recollection without at least some cues to it… I suppose I ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
  • 25.9k
5 votes

If someone can sing a melody, why can they not also recognize the intervals within that melody?

Because our brains don't need to consciously be aware of intervals. Your question is the same as the following question: If I draw an X on the ground and ask someone to jump from where they're ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 151
5 votes

Why is absolute pitch so fetished/sought after in the Western music world?

I think you're attacking a straw man here. Yes, good aural skills are very important to a musician. But in 65-odd years of dealing with musicians - and striving towards becoming one - I've never ...
Laurence's user avatar
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