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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by captdg, Jan 4, 2013.
Are people born with perfect pitch? is it genetic or can it be developed?
According to advertisements in the guitar mags., you can purchase perfect pitch. I once saw that ad next to another that promised weight loss, unlimited energy, unlimited sexual prowess and an increased member size all in one pill. The best part is that it was free, just pay separate handling and shipping.
Seriously, I believe we are born with certain apptitudes and limitations. We can develope through practice up to our natural limitations. But there it ends in my opinion. If you were not born with the ability to achieve perfect pitch-you will not train up to it. Think lipstick on a pig.
I think 'perfect pitch' or 'Absolute Pitch' is an impossibility (If you want to get really technical) but there's no doubt that some people are born with near perfect pitch / absolute pitch ability.
You can develop your memory for pitch awareness or relative pitch awareness but these are two different things I think.
Look up 'Absolute pitch' and 'Relative Pitch' on Wikipedia. If my understanding is correct then absolute pitch is something you have - or not, and relative pitch is something you can work on and improve.
From this well-researched Wiki article:
"Researchers have been trying to teach absolute pitch ability in laboratory settings for more than a century, and various commercial absolute-pitch training courses have been offered to the public since the early 1900s. However, no adult has ever been documented to have acquired absolute listening ability, as all adults who have undergone AP training have failed, when formally tested, to show "an unqualified level of accuracy... comparable to that of AP possessors."
The interesting thing is that there is a greater prevalence of it in cultures that have pitch-based languages; however, whether that is genetically-related or cultural is unknown.
I have a theory that there is a strong genetic component related to individual neural pathways, and that has to be coupled with learning pitch relationships at a very early age. It's well-known that children who learn an instrument before adolescence tend to be more able to become virtuosi on the instrument, where it is rare that people who learn an instrument later can become great. This is a matter of neural pathways being developed at an early age.
In any event, there seems to be no verifiable relationship between absolute pitch and musical ability.
Incidentally, I do think that lots of people have a sense of tone colors relative to pitch, even non-musicians. For example, it's rare that I'll write an ad track in "C" because over the years I've seen that clients tend to relate to C as a "sad" or "emotional" key, while the relate to D, E and A as "bright" keys, and Bb, Ab, and F as "jazzy" keys. I've often gotten client approval on a project simply by changing its key!
I don't know why this is, but some of it might be genetic, and some cultural.
EDIT: Sorry, Mike, didn't see your post, I was writing this one.
I seem to remember a story that Vai or Satch, (I forget which one) used to go to sleep with headphones on and that in the middle of the night a tape of a tone at 440Hz would play while they slept which helped them develop perfect pitch.....
I have no idea whether this is even remotely true though and if it would even work.
These are the answers I was looking for, in a roundabout way. There was an obscure passage I was reading or maybe it was an episode of House M.D. in which a differential diagnosis was based on a genetic predisposition to perfect or absolute pitch. Mr. Schefman brings up a good point with the link. When I was in Korea last year pitch seemed to a cornerstone to the interpretation in linguistics.
Perfect Pitch actually refers to many different things.
A fastball which is just within the strike zone on the low inside corner when the batter is looking for high and outside is often a perfect pitch.
A roof slope that holds a snow load without letting it slide off and ruin the gutters and still distributes the weight to the bearing walls efficiently is a perfect pitch.
For many of us, a salesman at our local guitar store saying "Hey, I just got this PRS in..." is a perfect pitch.
I love it!