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What Does it Mean When Someone Has Perfect Pitch?

Perfect Pitch Musician

Photo by [BreonWarwick] morgueFile

When you hear someone talking about “Perfect Pitch” it is generally in context with something musical. Often times, people that play an instrument or sing and have the ability to stay in tune are referred to as having perfect pitch. But perfect pitch is much more than just an ability to stay on key. Most all professional musicians and singers are able to stay on key, it’s simply a major part of the art.

So is there a difference in a professional that can keep in tune when playing and singing, as opposed to someone with perfect pitch? Absolutely!

What is Perfect Pitch

If you were to ask someone with perfect pitch to hum the musical note E# above middle C, then they would be able to sing that exact note. This type of talent definitely eliminates the need for a pitch pipe.

Another example of perfect pitch is someone that can identify the exact note which they’ve just heard. For instance if I were to play a C# on the piano, then someone with perfect pitch would be able to tell me that I had just played a C#. Not only that, but if the piano were out of tune, I’m sure they would be the first to let me know.

How is Perfect Pitch Developed

Most people probably think that perfect pitch is something people are born with, but that’s not necessarily the case. Most times this skill is something that has to be learned starting very early in life normally around the age of 4 or 5. This being the case, if you don’t have perfect pitch at this point in your life, then you probably never will. But nothing’s impossible…

Why is Perfect Pitch Important

For anyone that isn’t a musician or singer, having perfect pitch is no more useful than being able to sing pretty in the shower. But for a professional musician it can come in quite handy when improvising a song you’ve never heard before. This is also a very important ability when it comes to writing music or composing symphony pieces. Of course there is plenty of music theory that will need to be applied in these cases as well.

Having perfect pitch also has a down side. A normal musician or singer playing with a band will probably not notice if one of the other musicians are a little out of tune or off key. But someone with perfect pitch will be squirming to get out of the room at the slightest off key note. In fact it may even be a painful experience to this individual to hear someone going “sour”.

But we must always look at perfect pitch as a musical gift for those that have it. This ability not only allows an individual to recreate music in their minds that they haven’t heard in decades, but gives them a creative edge when creating new music as well. If there weren’t talented people with perfect pitch in the music industry, we probably wouldn’t enjoy those master pieces that we put on our iPods or in our CD players near as much.


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4 thoughts on “What Does it Mean When Someone Has Perfect Pitch?
  1. I’ve known a couple of people in my life that have had perfect pitch – it is amazing. They can snatch a note right out of the air and be spot on. Quite the gift.

    1. Yes Jeff, it really is such a gift and an amazing one at that. Makes you wonder if folks like this were born with a pitch pipe in their brains.

  2. Robert,
    Great article! I played in a band with a bass player who had perfect pitch. I could ask him give me a “C” and he would hum it and wouldn’t you know, it WAS a perfect “C”. Still can’t figure it out though. But thanks for your post.

    1. Yep, such an amazing talent. I myself am a musician and have a very good ear when it comes to picking out notes or learning songs. But I wouldn’t say I have Perfect Pitch. You can develop great skills as a musician, but perfect pitch is something you’re born with. They few that have been gifted with this are few and far between.

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