Perfect Pitch

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Branson, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    That's very interesting as both parents played professionally. Mom on the piano (and this was before moms worked) all day long playing Chopin and the like. She would use mild vulgarity when she messed up and I would say, "Aww, you said a bad word"! She would refrain from "swearing", but I would still listen for her to make a mistake. I would gleefully tell she had missed a note despite not swearing!!! I had no idea what the note names were but knew what the chord was supposed to be. I picked the trumpet because it only had three buttons versus 88 keys, two hands and both feet on three pedals!!!
  2. fels

    fels Piano User

    Jun 8, 2008
    Colorado Springs
    familiarity (practice and experience) is likely an important element to this discussion as experience above. I was a Junior in High School taking piano lessons from an advanced instructor whose purpose was to show me what it would take to succeed in music if I pursued it as a major. She had a broken leg and was wheeling around her house in a wheel chair. I was playing a Chopin Polonaise- banging away - she was in her kitchen -- her voice came over my volume noting that i had missed a C# in the left hand.

    Perfect pitch? or just familiarity with the music? (have not read every thread so apologies for unintended redundancy)
  3. ChopsGone

    ChopsGone Forte User

    Jan 26, 2009
    Northern California
    Lots of accomplished musicians seem to be able to detect pitch variations of two cents, some even less. My daughter, an oboist, has always had a better ability in that regard than I do, and mine's not bad at all.
  4. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    Edited out.
    tobylou8 likes this.
  5. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    While it could be perfect pitch, most likely not. She likely was familiar with the key and could easily spot a missed note. Also, when you play an instrument you get very familiar with the notes. When my son practices trumpet in a different room, I occasionally yell things like, " Bb, not natural" etc. and I do not have perfect pitch.
  6. PhxHorn

    PhxHorn New Friend

    Apr 20, 2011
    Whenever the subject of perfect pitch or absolute pitch comes up, a lot of misconceptions come out, usually from people who don't have it. The above post is one of them. If you look up the definition, it's just being able to identify a pitch, or the ability to hum a pitch accurately enough so that you're accurate to the semitone. If you can identify a B-flat as a B-flat, or hum one without a reference pitch, you meet the standard for having perfect pitch. That's all there is to it!

    Perfect pitch is not:

    1. Being able to discern A-440 from A-442.
    2. Being able to identify chord quality.
    3. Being able to memorize and transcribe long passage of music, including the harmony parts.

    We've all heard anecdotes or known people who could do these other things, but these qualities all go above and beyond the standard definition.
  7. PhxHorn

    PhxHorn New Friend

    Apr 20, 2011

    Science has never confirmed anyone in the world as having a true photographic or eidetic memory. Take her to a lab to be tested, and they will undoubtedly find that her memory is limited, even if she is at a very high level.

    According to mounting evidence, it's impossible to recall images with near perfect accuracy.

    Certainly, some people do have phenomenal memories. Chess masters can best multiple opponents while blindfolded. Super card sharks can memorize the order of a shuffled deck of cards in less than a minute. But people with Herculean memories tend to be adept at one specific task—i.e., a person who memorizes cards may be inept at recognizing faces.

    Alan Searleman, a professor of psychology at St. Lawrence University in New York, says eidetic imagery comes closest to being photographic. When shown an unfamiliar image for 30 seconds, so-called "eidetikers" can vividly describe the image—for example, how many petals are on a flower in a garden scene. They report "seeing" the image, and their eyes appear to scan across the image as they describe it. Still, their reports sometimes contain errors, and their accuracy fades after just a few minutes. Says Searleman, "If they were truly 'photographic' in nature, you wouldn't expect any errors at all."

    It should be noted that chessmasters' ability to play blindfolded is usually limited to at most a few dozen games at once, and is strongly related to the order of moves. When presented with random positions, their ability to play while blindfolded is severely diminished.
  8. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    No, that's merely your interpretation of some particular definition you've read somewhere.

    What about the ability to recognise the various microtone intervals of the maqamat scales of the Middle East? Or the gadwal scale?

    Picking a definition that ignores all other cultures than the particular one your familiar with is simply a parochial opinion and no more than that.
  9. PhxHorn

    PhxHorn New Friend

    Apr 20, 2011
    Nobody's truly perfect, so you have to draw the line somewhere. If only 1 person in 10,000 can do it to an semitone accuracy, that's a fairly strict standard. But I know plenty of musicians with perfect pitch. I could name a dozen off the top of my head--it's fairly common among musicians.

    For whatever it's worth, I just googled up and took a perfect pitch test at

    I was able to score 10/10 in about a minute. Here is my 'screen shot' of the test.

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