#1
Greetings members of Ultimate Guitar.

I recently discovered that one of my favorite guitarists has perfect pitch and out of curiosity I looked up what it meant and couldn't believe that such a uncanny skill existed.

So I was wondering, is perfect pitch something that can be taught? Has anyone as of yet taught themselves perfect pitch and if so by what methods?

Also if anyone here does have perfect pitch, is there any way for you to describe what your listening to when you hear a note? I'm starting to wonder if theres something that people with perfect pitch pay attention to that normal people with relative pitch don't.

What do you guys know about perfect/absoloute pitch?
#2
I kinda have perfect pitch. Not 100% accurate, but let say I hear a power chord in a song, I immediately know what chord it is. I could be wrong by max 1-2 semitones, I never mistake an A for a D or something.

How do I do it? There's no secret: I have been learning songs by ear for 5 years. I don't use tabs except for some very fast parts that I can't figure out.
#3
It depends, some people have spent a great deal of time teaching themselves how to identify certain pitches, some people are just born with it ( Bill bailey comes to mind )

I myself however find it difficult apart from a few notes and chords which are distinct in that playing guitar ( For quite some time ) usually gives people the uncanny ability to recognize say the note E,

I also read a interview in which Bill bailey said that ever since he was young he was even able to recognize what notes engines and washing machines were making.

Pretty cool if you ask me
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#4
i'm not sure, But, I can tune my guitar perfectly without using a tuner and without it already being in tune(I've done it many times). I'm not quite sure how I do it really though.

I tune the low E to what i remember it sounding like, then I feel and listen for odd vibrations and tune it till the string till the vibrations no longer seem 'odd' then I tune the rest of the strings to the E. I get it dead on most of the time, it's not terribly difficult
It's over simplified, So what!

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#5
Quote by Poglia
I kinda have perfect pitch. Not 100% accurate, but let say I hear a power chord in a song, I immediately know what chord it is. I could be wrong by max 1-2 semitones, I never mistake an A for a D or something.

How do I do it? There's no secret: I have been learning songs by ear for 5 years. I don't use tabs except for some very fast parts that I can't figure out.



You must have an extremely good relative pitch if thats the case. From what I've heard people with perfect pitch can identify the notes in a chord or individual notes perfectly in every situation. Have you taken a test to find out?
#6
Quote by dannydawiz
You must have an extremely good relative pitch if thats the case. From what I've heard people with perfect pitch can identify the notes in a chord or individual notes perfectly in every situation. Have you taken a test to find out?
Yes, I did a few tests, I'm often right but when I'm wrong it's only for 1-2 semitones. For example, I could say "it's a G" while it was a G# or Gb. I think it's because I often play with alternate tunings (mostly Eb and D) so I tend to mix things up.
#7
Guthrie Govan used to try and catch one of his students out whom had perfect pitch, by firing random notes at him...he never could. The student said that he thought of notes in terms of colours. Such as Bb sounding blue, and D as a greenish colour.

So he played him a Cmaj7 chord and asked him to identify that. He shook his head in despair, and gave up almost immediately.

"Can't you just home in on each note in turn and identify the separate colours? Then you could look at your list of notes and figure out what the chord is."

"No, you don't understand," he replied. "All chords sound brown to me".
What do you guys know about perfect/absoloute pitch?

I don't really know anything about it, b/c I don't have it, but get along more than fine without it, due to good relative pitch.
I'm starting to wonder if theres something that people with perfect pitch pay attention to that normal people with relative pitch don't.

I'd say it's more useful for vocalists, since they use it to gauge whether or not it's worth trying to reach a certain high note.
Last edited by mdc at Oct 2, 2011,
#8
I have good relative pitch (similar to Poglia), and to me, it's almost like each chord has its own personality (and no, I'm not a synesthesiac). Like Abm sounds cold and dark, and C sounds sort of calm and unassuming. As for the notes, each scale degree has its own sound, so I'll hear, let's say a song in Am, and if I want to know what a note is, I can pick out that it's, say, a perfect 4th and know it's a D. This comes from listening to a lot of songs, looking up the chords, and building an association between them. Playing along helps too.
That's just me, though.

Quote by mdc
Guthrie Govan used to try and catch one of his students out whom had perfect pitch, by firing random notes at him...he never could. The student said that he thought of notes in terms of colours. Such as Bb sounding blue, and D as a greenish colour.

So he played him a Cmaj7 chord and asked him to identify that. He shook his head in despair, and gave up almost immediately.

"Can't you just home in on each note in turn and identify the separate colours? Then you could look at your list of notes and figure out what the chord is."

"No, you don't understand," he replied. "All chords sound brown to me".

I don't really know anything about it, b/c I don't have it, but get along more than fine without it.

I'd say it's more useful for vocalists, since they use it to gauge whether or not is worth trying to reach a certain high note.

That sounds like synesthesia. Some people (about 1 in 20 or something like that) have parts of their brain cross-wired so that they'll do things like smell music, or feel numbers, or taste pictures (not literally). It sounds weird, and I've heard it's like being high all the time, but most synesthesiacs are geniuses if they ever pick up music (case in point: Aphex Twin).
And the brown chord thing (no, not that "brown chord" thing): It's different for everyone.
Last edited by Cavalcade at Oct 2, 2011,
#9
Quote by Poglia
Yes, I did a few tests, I'm often right but when I'm wrong it's only for 1-2 semitones. For example, I could say "it's a G" while it was a G# or Gb. I think it's because I often play with alternate tunings (mostly Eb and D) so I tend to mix things up.

You have a good tone memory, and Perfect pitch is all about pitch color.
This link explains it all. I am not gonna start ranting becouse nobody believed me last time.
http://www.perfectpitch.com/
#10
Quote by mdc
Guthrie Govan used to try and catch one of his students out whom had perfect pitch, by firing random notes at him...he never could. The student said that he thought of notes in terms of colours. Such as Bb sounding blue, and D as a greenish colour.

So he played him a Cmaj7 chord and asked him to identify that. He shook his head in despair, and gave up almost immediately.

"Can't you just home in on each note in turn and identify the separate colours? Then you could look at your list of notes and figure out what the chord is."

"No, you don't understand," he replied. "All chords sound brown to me".

I don't really know anything about it, b/c I don't have it, but get along more than fine without it.

I'd say it's more useful for vocalists, since they use it to gauge whether or not is worth trying to reach a certain high note.


That is a very interesting story especially considering that Guthrie is one of my most respected guitarists. Where did you hear this story from? It seems like a very interesting concept associating colors with pitches.
#12
Quote by Cavalcade
As for the notes, each scale degree has its own sound, so I'll hear, let's say a song in Am, and if I want to know what a note is, I can pick out that it's, say, a perfect 4th and know it's a D. This comes from listening to a lot of songs, looking up the chords, and building an association between them. Playing along helps too.
That's just me, though
.
Me too. I go by that same method of association.


That sounds like synesthesia. Some people (about 1 in 20 or something like that) have parts of their brain cross-wired so that they'll do things like smell music, or feel numbers, or taste pictures (not literally). It sounds weird, and I've heard it's like being high all the time, but most synesthesiacs are geniuses if they ever pick up music (case in point: Aphex Twin).
And the brown chord thing (no, not that "brown chord" thing): It's different for everyone.

He may have had it. But from what I read, this student took one of those teach-yourself-courses. It may have been by David Burgess, but not sure. So either he benefited hugely from the course (in developing perfect pitch, but clearly not relative), or he is just a synaesthete, which would've been an added bonus!
#13
Follow the link by Jani if you want to take the test, because I'm going to post my results and the answers. So if you want accurate self evaluation, don't read below.

If you could care less, continue.

I took that mini quiz on the perfect pitch thing, and I guessed C, AbMaj7, C minor, had no idea for the classical piece, and sung an A instead of a Bb.

The actual answers were C#, Fmin9, A minor, F# minor, and you were supposed to sing a B. I was a semitone off from C, Fmin9 contains 3/4 notes in AbMaj7, I thought the song resolved on C in a minor key but instead A, but considering relative keys I wasn't too far off. I couldn't find a good resolve tone for the Classical piece.

Also, I find synesthesia to be wierd, and it would suck to think of all chords as a shade of brown.
#16
I know one chap with perfect pitch, any note or chord is no problem to identify. He literally can't get it wrong, even if you just put an elbow across the piano, he could name you what specific pitches they are and what octave they're in.

I tune the low E to what i remember it sounding like, then I feel and listen for odd vibrations and tune it till the string till the vibrations no longer seem 'odd' then I tune the rest of the strings to the E. I get it dead on most of the time, it's not terribly difficult.


I kinda have perfect pitch. Not 100% accurate, but let say I hear a power chord in a song, I immediately know what chord it is. I could be wrong by max 1-2 semitones, I never mistake an A for a D or something.

How do I do it? There's no secret: I have been learning songs by ear for 5 years. I don't use tabs except for some very fast parts that I can't figure out.


Neither of these are perfect pitch. You both have a good memory and a good sense of relative pitch, but if you actually have perfect pitch it is impossible for you to not hear a note as it's correct letter - you wouldn't get it "just 1 or 2 semitones off" any more than you would confuse red and yellow for being "just 2 colours off".

You can actually get very close to functional perfect pitch by recalling tones and applying relative pitch, I presume that's how that method works?

There's some funny things that happen if you have perfect pitch. Sometimes people have trouble recognising the same melodies in different keys, or their internal tuning is off when they have a cold.
#17
Quote by Freepower
There's some funny things that happen if you have perfect pitch. Sometimes people have trouble recognising the same melodies in different keys, or their internal tuning is off when they have a cold.

That's quite amusing. I wanna try this shit out on people but don't know anyone who's "blessed" with pp.
#20
Quote by Life Is Brutal
I read through the "Tritone Paradox" thing. How do you not know that something ascends or descends by 6 semitones?

I dunno... but the paradoxes have all worked on me! I love Shepherd's Tones.
#21
Quote by Obsceneairwaves
i'm not sure, But, I can tune my guitar perfectly without using a tuner and without it already being in tune(I've done it many times). I'm not quite sure how I do it really though.

I tune the low E to what i remember it sounding like, then I feel and listen for odd vibrations and tune it till the string till the vibrations no longer seem 'odd' then I tune the rest of the strings to the E. I get it dead on most of the time, it's not terribly difficult



That happens to me too, although I can do it better when just tuning from standard to Drop D (and not just tune to a rendom note and then expect to tune back to the low E perfectly).