Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Perfect (absolute) pitch test: Can you sing a C note out of the blue without a reference?

Posted by Anonymous on November 6, 2008

Try this:

- Think of a “Middle C” note in your head.
- Then play it on a virtual keyboard here and see if you were right.

Hint: If you don’t know what a C is, without checking, try singing the first note from the Beatles song Hey Jude, which happens to be a C note. Hey = C, Jude = A. When you sing the word Jude in tune, your vocal cords are vibrating 220 times per second.

piano

Set an alarm and try it once per hour and keep track of your results. Are you flat? Sharp? All over the place? Can you find some notes and not others?

I’m interested to hear your experiences, so leave a comment.

Elvis sings it in a different key.  His version, if you can find it, (deleted by Youtube) still starts with Middle C, but then he jumps down to a different key. Weird.

Xeno’s “Hey Jude” Method for Acquired Absolute Pitch

Day 1: After just one day of testing myself at random, here are my results: In about 10 tries today,  I was correct about 4 times.  I was sharp a few times, flat a few times. Each time I hit it dead on, I was shocked. The last time I tried today, I hit it and there had been a pause of 2 hours with no musical reference in the room, no humming in my head, etc. I really just pulled it out of the blue. Amazing. I’m in a fantastic mood about this discovery.

I could NOT memorize one note alone. I tried that for days once during a car trip and I drove my girlfriend at the time completely nuts. But it seems that two notes, especially from a song you know well, along with random quizzes throughout the day may be the key!

When you are wrong, compare the notes you sang wrong to the right ones. Pay attention to how they feel different.

There is, for me, now a growing subtle but powerful feeling I get when I hit the pitches and I just know for certain that I am singing Hey “C” — Jude “A”, — Don’t “A” — Make “C” — it “D” — bad “G” … and so on.

Tools: I recorded the first two notes of Hey Jude (using the virtual keyboard above) in the memo pad on my cell phone. This way I can test myself at any time during the day.

I’d like to build a little hand held device that quizzes me on notes and records my progress. That would make an awesome game for kids. It should show on a graph the notes you actually hit each time you tried and the amount of time since the last attempt.

Hey, if I can learn this, does that mean I AM one of those 1 in 10,000 people like Jason Mraz who genetically just has absolute pitch? Or does it just mean I cheated the system? The answer would be important because if it is not genetic, my method would work for many people. If it is genetic, this path I’m on would only benefit some people.

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60 Responses to “Perfect (absolute) pitch test: Can you sing a C note out of the blue without a reference?”

  1. [...] Perfect (absolute) pitch test: Can you sing a C note out of the blue without a reference? [...]

  2. Anahit Camacho said

    I can’t sing a middle C note out of the blue, but I can sing a B and an E (and control which octave) out of the blue. I think this is because I tend to sing songs that start with B or E. I don’t think my case is genetic. A year ago, I wouldn’t dream of being capable of perfect pitch of any kind.
    Hope it helps. :)

  3. :D said

    I CAN sing an F sharp out of the blue :D HAHA. such a horrible note to start with

    • lol said

      Yes, because it is the tritone to c major. So sorry! but good job with it anyways!

      I found out a few years ago that I had perfect pitch and ever since, people have been bugging me (how do you memorize the pitches?) I don’t know. it just happened.

  4. Mark said

    I can sing any note out of the blue practically any time, problem is im quite young so i cant control it…it tends to turn its self on and off, which can be a nuisance :/

    ^^

  5. Saaaaaarrraaah said

    i can sing an a out of the blue because thats the note i tune to everyday in orchestra!!

  6. Anonymous said

    I can sing a C out of the blue anytime, anywhere. Same with every other note, although it takes a bit longer for some flats (e.g. A flat)

  7. Xeno said

    For those who can do it, (and are correct if you check yourself against a reference tone), how did you pick up this ability?

    • DeeDee said

      I was born with it and so was my dad.

    • anonamamus said

      it’s genetic in my family. my grandfather has it. but ofcourse then again, i did say the notes in my head along to ode to joy in c major a LOT as a kid when i played it on piano so maybe i picked it up that way.that is if the phenomena isn’t genetic, which i recon it is.

      • Andrew Batterham said

        I think it’s genetic too
        I have it, so does my dad, his mum, and her dad did, though now we’re back seeral generations.

        I also agree it’s possible to teach yourself very good relative pitch too

      • Xeno said

        Did you have any special early training or music lessons before age 7?

  8. Anonymous said

    I’ve been able to do it since I started learning music, so I guess I was born with it. If it makes a difference, I’m Chinese and they say our tonal languages make a difference.

  9. om said

    but it gets better with training. I have good hearing so sure, I can sing a C an A out anytime, but the db ab is not easy..then again if I checked it up with my piano/instrument I could probably remember it and sing it out loud. I haven´t checked for over a year.

    then again its sort of a matter of taste, because what it you don´t like to spontaneasly sing “hey jude” with a middle C but with a different key? I tend to do that, higher.

    ONe important remark is that a middle C is really hard to hit in “hey jude” if you´re more of a soprano, or a girl. girls and boys often have different vibrato. I have to alter my voice if I would want to sing heyjude in middle c. but for paul it´s a comfy and natural tone.

  10. om said

    so I tend to sing hey jude with an e i think.
    the other really working tip is to learn the c-scale and memorize it, which you do when playing instruments. repeat doremifasolatido etc

  11. Chris said

    I have had perfect pitch since I was very little. I thought that my brother was retarded because he couldn’t guess notes on the piano, and he was 3 years older! haha

    I can go beyond that though and notate chords and clusters of pitches with relative ease. That part probably comes from the fact that I was playing piano at a very early age.

    I think that anybody can develop it. It is very similar to colors: I know that a color is blue, but a really good artist can tell what shade of blue it is, like how much green, how much white or black, etc. I think that everybody notices the difference in pitch when it is an extreme distance, like more than an octave…it’s just that as you are required to remember a pitch down to the half-step, you need more training. It just takes a lot of paying attention to the notes; that Hey Jude technique is a good one!

    • Anonymous said

      I’ve discussed this with a friend of mine who has perfect pitch, and we both think that the “colors” argument is invalid. Sure, a good artist can find a distinction between shades of colors, but it is also true that everyone’s vision is different and what I call “red” another person may call something different. The same thing can apply to pitch. One person with perfect pitch’s A could equal 440 but another perfect pitch possesor’s could be 442; just like certain orchestra’s tune sharp. As far as acquiring it, there is someone at my school who spends a lot of money on that and he has been doing it for a year and a half and he has been unsuccessful. I can sing a Bb almost flawlessly, which i attribute to the fact I play trombone and have tuned to it for 8 years, however I’m not very successful if there is some other music playing, especially if it’s in another key. I’ve heard this as a semi-common thing among instrumentalists. However, I know of people who have transcribed ridiculous John Coltrane solo’s that have really good pitch, but not perfect pitch, so that provides a strong counter. I believe it to be a human anomaly that is different for everyone because that is just the way some things are. That conclusion can be frustrating for some who want answers (particularly those who want to be able to obtain it, but those people will have to cope.

      • Xeno said

        This, so far, sad to say, matches my experience. With practice rehearsing the note during the day, I can find a C most of the time. At times I pick a C# as a C, at times I pick a B as a C. But when other music is on in another key, or when I sing for or five other notes for a while, I lose the C, or it shifts down to a B and I don’t realize my error.

        It still feels that I could internalize the notes with practice, but it seems like a long road. I wonder if self hypnosis would help….

        I did learn to sing the notes of a guitar as if they were a song and now, given a C, I can hit C down to A, down to F, down to E, then drop down an octave to the low E, then tune my guitar E A D G B E, no problem.

  12. John said

    I can produce the following pitches from nothing: C, D, E, F, G, Ab, Bb, Eb.

    I learned from songs. I am in band. When I think of songs I have performed, I typically remember the first note.

    Another method is to sit infront of a tuner, turn the pitch on, close your eyes, and write the name of the pitch on a piece of paper 100 times (the words overlap a lot). Also, think about what the pitch makes you think of.

    And by the way, from the pitches i can make, I can just move them up or down a half or whole step to hit any pitch. The list are the ones I can make right off the bat.

  13. DeeDee said

    Yep, I have perfect pitch so it doesn’t matter what note it is. I have had many people test this on the spot and i have never been off. It’s not bragging, believe me. It’s actually annoying if you’re in a chorus or an orchestra. With so many people singing or playing there are always bad notes. And I hear every one of them. People start to get pissed if you tell them and no one wants to sit next to you lol.

    • Wagnerlover777 said

      The worst is when they THINK they’re right, and you just have to go “Noooo…you’re a major second sharp buddy, that was an F, not an Eb”. People really do hate us with perfect pitch, don’t they? What is itjealousy? I’ve learned to ignore how bad people sing, and just concentrate on my part. The only time I’ll comment is when I seriously want to murder someone for screwing up everytime (e.g. I had to tell this girl off for singing a solo in C when the song was in D-flat…*shudders*).

  14. Xeno said

    Hi DeeDee,
    Thanks, this inspires me to get back to trying to learn perfect pitch. I can usually sing a C and then I quickly can find A, F, then from there down a 1/2 step to E, then A, D, G, B, E for tuning a guitar…. but I don’t instantly recognize any pitches yet when I hear them.

  15. Ollie said

    I can sing all pitches most of the time but can’t really control it. I don’t think what I’ve got is genetic – had a lot of practise very early and have a good sense of tuning.

  16. Richard said

    I have absolute pitch, however I was not born with it.

    I can sing most notes without reference, I also recently tuned my guitar by ear and no i didnt just tune the low e string and then use that as a reference. I took David lucas burges course and I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to acquire this ability, thus avoiding ryan camerons futile version

    • Anonymous said

      If you have absolute (or perfect) pitch, then you can hit ANY note, not MOST. Also, those programs are not worth anyone’s money, they are scams.

  17. [...] I’ve posted about perfect pitch previously: correcting wrong learned notes, paul mccartney making girls scream, absolute pitch test. [...]

  18. Connor said

    I can get all of the notes in hey jude and can sing a C, but whenever someone asks me what a note is, I can’t get it. Is there any way to improve this?

  19. Xeno said

    Hi Connor,
    One thing I recommend is that once you can get a C, start learning the other notes starting from a C. I use songs for most of that.

    “C” down a half step to “B” is, for me, Sting singing “I want my MTV” (“C” is I, “B” is want).
    “C” down to “Bb/A#” is “When the (moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie…)”.
    “C” down to “A”: Hey is “C” and Jude is “A”.
    “C” down to “Ab/G#” is the opening of Beethoven’s 5th symphony (in C, which it isn’t)
    “C” down to a “G” is the start of a song I learned called “Born Free”.
    “C” down to “Gb/F#” is the tri-tone which is the “ugliest” interval.
    “C” down to “F” is the interval for the “Flintstones” song. (A fifth down)
    “C” down to “E” is that Romeo and Juliet song “Where do I begin (to tell the story of a…)”
    “C” down to “Eb/D#” is ?
    “C” down to “D” is ?
    “C” down to “Db/C#” is ?
    “C” down to “C” is an octave. This one is so obvious to me from years of playing that I don’t need to associate it with anything. Some people have trouble hearing the difference between the octave and the fifth, however.

    You can do the same for the note up from C with different songs. Intervals are usually named starting with the low note, but I can’t sing the notes above middle C as easily as the ones below middle C, so I started learning down first.

    Obviously you have to find songs that you know well. Or just make up your own exercises.

    One I do is singing down chromatically from middle C down to the next C.

    I also learned, after finding a C, to sing the notes that are the open strings of a guitar. So, if I have a C reference, I can tune a guitar by ear.

    Although these are the right keys that the songs are in, doing this for every note helps me get quickly from one to the next.

    Then, after I learned that, I got a cheap little keyboard and when I have a lot of time I’ll find C, then look at another note and try to sing it. Then I’ll play the note to see if I was correct. Hours of fun.

  20. annonymous said

    i have perfect pitch but i dont think i was born with it. maybe its because i have been playing the piano since i was 3. i actually only officially knew that i had perfect pitch around 2 years ago when i was practicing my grade 8 aural with my teacher.

    • Shane said

      I think it’s definitely something that is learned early on, though perhaps some people are more genetically inclined to it than others (like any other ability). I started playing the piano at about 8, and have a decent ability to name notes based on the C scale, but not sharps/flats. I think that’s because when I started learning piano, I associated a ‘character’ with each note – C was in the middle, balanced, solid, followed by G which was also a pretty ‘safe’ note. Then came E and A (somewhere between ‘safe’ and ‘scary’!) and finally D, F and B, all seriously dodgy, unbalanced notes.

      I can’t name sharps or flats very well, because I didn’t ever associate any particular feeling with them (except perhaps that they were all uniformly even more scary than the scariest of the scary notes!)

      • Wagnerlover777 said

        You could always just try to memorize C…then there’s no more problems and you can just go up the scale when needed to get your note.

  21. Merlin87 said

    I’m sure it’s a time-saver for you, but I have to say I’m not real fond of the computerized voice. ,

  22. Wagnerlover777 said

    It was so funny to me, because I have any “C” that you could ask for from C1-C7 memorized, but only because I can sing them! To me, it’s weird, because if someone asks me to identify a note for them, then I’ll simply go ahead and listen to the note and then compare it in my head to another note which I had memorized (they are: C, D, B-flat, A, and E-flat), but it can take me up to 4 seconds just to give you the note. So, it’s more pitch-memorization to me (however, it’s long term, seeing as I haven’t been wrong on a middle C in…well…ever).

    • Xeno said

      WagnerLover, awesome. Was there a time when you memorized the notes you do know, and if so, how did you do it?

      • Wagnerlover777 said

        Well…I don’t know. It’s just something that comes very naturally to me. I actually don’t know the exact point at which I developed this skill, since I have never in my life sung out of tune. When I was six, for example, I would sing opera in the soprano range, and it would always be in the same key. It didn’t register that it was special until I heard other people start to sing. I learned how to remember a sound, I guess.

  23. Lorelei said

    I am of the opinion that at least part of AP can be learned. The only thing I have to prove this, though is my own experience. I have had passive AP for as long as I can remember, but I managed to learn the active component. This was done through a lot of sight-singing and solfege (specifically fixed-do). It must be taken into consideration, though that I was less than ten when this was done.

    Lorelei

  24. Piano228 said

    I believe absolute pitch is genetic but I think you can achieve something similar to it with just loads of practice. I wasn’t born with it but occasionally I can sense and know what key a song I hear is in and then instantly play it in the same key on the piano. I’ve also noticed that for some reason it tends to be pieces in the keys of C, D, A, Eb and Bb. These are also the keys that I improvise in alot so I think I recognise them because I’ve become so familiar with them.

  25. BrianW said

    I’ve always been able to pick out middle C on the piano blindfold, so suspected I may have latent perfect pitch. HOWEVER, when only the white keys are used I now think the semitone between E and F gives me a subconconcious clue to make C stand out.

    So over the past week I’ve tried to teach myself absolute pitch. I’ve used “Absolute Pitch” software, carried around a C tuning fork and listened to a recording I made playing all the Cs on the piano in turn. Using the Absolute Pitch software I can easily pick out every time “C” is played – although I stuggle a bit with the higher octaves. I can now identify middle C from a random set of piano notes are played (including the black keys) 95% of the time.

    I can also whistle C quite reliably – but I’m not ALWAYS correct. Does this mean I don’t have absolute pitch? Well I don’t think so, because I think most who comment on this forget that in addition to having the genetic ability, you also need to LEARN what the notes sound like before you can identify them ie even someone ‘born’ with absolute pitch (whatever that means) would still need to learn the arbitrary letters we have given them AND the slightly less arbitrary way the Western world has carved up the octave into 12 equal spacings (OK so it’s a logarithmic progression).

    This is the hard part, because unlike anything else you might learn, there is no way to DESCRIBE a note accurately to yourself – other than vaguest high-low terms. By definition, there is NO reference point and NO way of checking if you are correct before you test it. Even whistling well-known tunes I can sometimes get sharp or flat. Again, does this mean I don’t have perfect pitch and again I think not necessarily since the number of times I get it right is well beyond what you would expect if I only had good relative pitch.

    Most descriptions also tend to ingnore that it must surely be much easier to identify a piano note (ie picking 1 from 12 – repeated for the octaves) than pick a precise frequency from mid air to produce that note close enough to be considered correct??

    I would like to hear the successes and tips of others

    • BrianW said

      Before anyone corrects me, this should have read…

      “the semitone between E and F gives me a subconconcious clue to make C stand out” should have read “the semitones between E and F and between B and C gives me subconconcious clues to make C stand out”

  26. I think a singer has a natural note they hit when they open their mouth and just blurt out, “La la la laaaaaa …” In my case, it’s always “F” below middle-c, without fail, every single time. Having a genetic propensity to hitting perfect pitch probably does not start with the mathematical equation on a keyboard, although with training, it may appear to be just that.

    • Xeno said

      Danny, interesting theory! I’ll on try recording the first note that comes to me using my iPhone over the next few days. When I get 100 la la la’s, I’ll make a chart and see if you are right.

  27. BrianW said

    Just a thought that I have never seen in the academic papers – If someone can consistently produce a known pitch perfectly by singing or whistling where the very first note that comes out of their mouth is correct – then surely the biological mechanism has to be ‘muscle memory’.

    Whilst ANY method that allows a person to produce predetermined notes without any external reference might be considered perfect pitch, this must surely be a different mechanism to that used by APs to recognise notes, or someone that has to listen to the note they produce and fine-tune it until it matches their pitch memory. If my theory is correct, then it may be possible for some people to perfectly PRODUCE a specified note, but be unable to recognise a note on a piano (without comparing it to their library of notes they can produce). I would consider this mechanism as what has been described as a good RP mascarading as an AP.

    The ‘Holy Grail’ would of course be a true AP that can both recognise and produce notes correct first time, every time.

    In my own case – I’m clinging to the straw that you even if you have a natural ability, you still need to learn the notes – and like learning anything else ‘practice (might) make perfect’.

    I’m very encouraged by a good description in the Absolute pitch software, where the author describes that when you are learning a specific note, it should IMMEDIATELY stand out from the rest of the notes as if you had just seen a well-known friend in a crowd. The key word being IMMEDIATELY. I am finding this is exactly how it seems to me with the first note I am learning ‘C’.

    Does anyone have any experiences to share where they have learnt ONE note consistently and start to learn other notes? Did they find it easy, or did learning a new note disrupt their memory of the note they had previously learnt??

    • BrianW said

      I’ve been giving this more thought and a big deal is made of the distinction between Absolute and Relative pitch. I’ve never seen any of the learned papers approach this from the point of view that surely an RP that can identify notes after being given a reference and MUST surely be remembering the reference note when they compare. Doesn’t this make part of the difference between an RP and an AP largely a long-term / short-term memory issue? If someone can be essentially indisguishable from an AP once given a reference note, the main issue is being able to remember that reference permenantly?

      I understand that RP is also used in the context of having to compare a note with a reference in your mind as opposed to the literal instant recognition of an AP, but maybe it’s not so different to remembering a long string of numbers. Maybe practice can make perfect even for adult learners – it’s just a question of a bit of genetic talent followed by some persistence and hard work? I also note taht in many of the papers written on this that it’s not quite as balck and white as most think – the idea that an AP can identify and produce any note perfectly EVERY TIME is either a rare subset of people that are classified as AP, or possibly even a myth? I personally don’t think it is a myth, but perhaps true APs are even rarer than the experts think.

      Most papers talk about AP tests that are correct to a semitone with an certain percentage of the time, wehereas my pre-conception of a true AP is perfectly (OK any scientific test has to have SOME degree of tolerance on accuracy)correct EVERY time and instantly with no reference at all. How can these tests be certain there is no reference note – as noted earlier muscle memory might account for some people being able to sing or hum a note at the same pitch each time. Do some certified APs quietly produce their own reference note and if so how would we weed them out to identify true APers?

      • Xeno said

        Good points and I’ve had similar thoughts. Seems there must be some brain wiring that does the correct pattern recognition of very similar vibration rates to allow distinguishing of different tones, irrespective of octave.

  28. BrianW said

    I think I’m getting there, so I thought I would pass on my experiences that might help others.

    I bought the “Absolute Pitch” 2.26 software. I concentrated exclusively on recognising C. First I restricted myself to Octave 4 (ie identify C4) and within a week I was getting quite good.

    I then recorded playing all the Cs ascending from C1 to C7. I recorded C1 to C7 using “Audacity” freeware and cut and pasted this a few times to give me several minutes of this. Whilst at work I listen to this. This reinforced my memory of C.

    I also bought a C tuning fork and carry this around with me. I whistle what I think is C and compare it to the tuning fork. I quickly found I would be correct after several hours of not hearing a reference note. Overnight was a bigger challenge. Remembering the Hey Jude tune and several others helped – including “Somewhere over the rainbow (the first two notes are both C, one octave apart), as well as the 2001 theme which goes C, G, C (up one octave). Remembering tunes however was not fool-proof and occasionally you could be convinced you were right but failed the check against the tuning fork. Strangely I tended to be 1 tone flat, but here I found Hey Jude useful, because if I found over the rainbow and Hey Jude seemed to disagree in my head, Hey Jude always seemed to want to take it up a tone and was right – although Hey Jude on its own was just as unreliable.

    I also found whistling, I could just about whistle a low C and the highest I could whistle was an E. This is obviously not a test of absolute pitch and is a bit unreliable, but is a useful sanity check when you don’t have a reference note and did avoid me picking one of my favourite duff notes which tended to be perfect notes from C.

    Back to “Absolute Pitch”. I expanded the octave range and increased the speed. Very soon I could pick out C4 every time at the fastest speed my reactions would allow me to do a mouse click (actually a notch or two down from top speed). I could do a wider range of octaves fairly reliably, but at a lower speed and I still have trouble with the highest and lowest Cs. I found the highest Cs on the midi piano sound a little flat to me and the lowest are so close together in frequency they were sometimes difficult to get – typically mistaking a C# for C. However practice makes perfect and I’m still improving on my reliability. The key thing here (no pun intended) is as the software author says is that the note you want should IMMEDIATELY stand out from the rest like recognising a face in a crowd – and indeed it does fairly rapidly.

    The next very big step is trying to recognise the other notes. I found the very good freeware programme “Solfege” very good. Try the “Identify Tones” test. You can set the range of notes you wish to test on (the octave is random) and slowly I found that I could pick out notes close to C without consciously doing a relative pitch comparison. Progress to more notes was slow and I recommend you first concentrate on just the white notes. I found I could pick out CDEB quite well but struggled when it got into the FGA region. The real breakthrough for me was recognising the 2001 them went CGC and gave me a good reference point to distinguish F, G and A.
    It’s quite hard to avoid doing the relative pitch comparison in your head (making it slow and not true AP), but after a few weeks I can now reliably identify all the white notes. Strangely I recognise them in a way that I believe is instant and true AP despite the description I’m going to give now. C is easy – it sticks out like a friend. D is just one note from C and in my head I recognise as D then C – I just here the scale DC in my head so that’s obviously D. The same for E and F – E is EDC and F is FEDC. Similarly B sounds discordant and odd and I here BC in my head. G is a solid 2001 – so if in doubt think 2001.

    I found I could identify all the white notes with almost perfect reliability and very fast – and this is why I think my “hearing FEDC” in my head is true AP and not RP because crucially when I hear an F I’m not going UP the scale from my reference C and I’m also not testing my guess going down the scale FEDC – rather I recognise the note as FEDC and doing it in my head isn’t usually a confirmation test. I recognise it usually immediately as that, and the confirmation test can be useful if in doubt – but I’m rarely wrong – sounds strange, but it works for me.

    The stage I am at now, I am gradually adding in the black keys to those to test in Solfege. C# is easy, C# and D# can get a little confusing. But my way forwards is clear – gradually adding in the sharps and flats. I expect this will take a few more weeks, but I’m getting there.

    I now also use Solfege for my ‘in the morning test’ as a fairer test of recognition than a tuning fork (my whistles are so full of harmonics it can be uncertain at times). Amazingly C I recognise every time and the other white notes (if they are played before a C) most of the time.

    My conclusions are that most of the psychologists are surprisingly ignorant in their papers.

    My own hypothesis is as follows – you probably need some sort of genetic component. If you don’t have it (ie tone deaf) you will never learn AP. However, many of us have it and AP can be learned – even by adults. The difference between AP and RP is firstly a question of long-term versus short-term memory – ie an RP has to remember the reference note to do RP – even if it can only be remembered for a short time. Practice and constant exposure to known notes is necessary to learn this. Secondly – even someone born with perfect AP still has to learn the notes to be able to recognise them – again exposure to known notes is essential. An RP is given a reference note and compares to that. An in-between group can remember the reference note, but because they haven’t learnt the other notes they need to use RP to compare to the base note.

    That is not to say all RPs could learn AP. Learning 12 separate notes and all their octaves is still quite a mammoth task similar to learning long strings of numbers.

    Thirdly piano notes are not pure tones and have a timbre. Recognising a note by ANY means is fair game. A bit like trying to recognise a certain colour. If that colour always had a certain unique shape that can aid recognition. That’s why tests show people with AP work best with their own instrument. That doesn’t mean you can’t recognise the same ‘note’ on another instrument – it’s just harder, more error-prone and less instant (indeed I put the word ‘note’ in quotes for that reason since no musical instrument puts out a pure tone – it’s a mixture of many harmonics). Again I suspect the unique character of different instruments can be learnt. (Absolute Pitch has a library of instruments that can be tried – I strongly prefer the grand piano, but I’m trying to expand my repertoire).

    If you persist I think most people will make progress. I’m not quite there yet, but I have confidence I will soon be able to pass any test for Absolute Pitch. Remember that if you were asked to remember a 100 digit number without the use of any mnemonics or memory techniques nobody would remember it instantly. It takes practice, testing and more practice and ultimately most people would be able to do it – after all most people are able to remember several telephone number, car registrations, passwords etc.
    Good luck and I would love to hear from anyone that has taught themselves AP or are in the process of doing so.

  29. BrianW said

    Apologies – several instances of ‘hear’ I seem to have typed as ‘here’ – I know better than that but somehow that doesn’t translate into my typing!

  30. The answer, coming from both a perfect pitched musician and hypnotist lies in the training of the mind. Like color title associations to colors, pitch title association to audio frequencies is the answer. It is how I acquired perfect pitch and how I use the mind via hypnosis to RECREATE MY OWN EXPERIENCE IN DEVELOPING PERFECT PITCH with others! See my website address. If you are in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, please consider working with me. Perfect pitch is a naturally developed talent that is void from the traditional views of being born with it.

    David Swanson
    Hypnotic Progressions
    White Bear Lake, MN
    hypnoticprogressions@gmail.com

  31. Ted Mackey said

    I’m thirteen and I just found out I have perfect pitch two days ago…but I’m not very good lol I need to hone myself to recognize notes faster.

  32. Brandon Haas said

    Yes i can sing a C out of the blue without a reference. Yes I do have Perfect(Absolute) Pitch. I have had Perfect Pith my whole life. The awesome part is that i am 14 years old.

  33. kim o'reilly said

    Yes I can, but I do have perfect pitch. I’m seventeen and I didn’t discover it, my mother did when I was five and could reliably sing a middle C on command. I don’t really count it as a gift, just something I can do. Recently I was studying a piece in a music lesson which was at baroque pitch, so the notes on the recording did not match the notes on the manuscript – totally screwed with my brain. My own personal take on it is simply that it’s a memory thing. From the first time I learnt the names of notes I matched pitches to them and they just stuck. But I also have a near-photographic memory, so I’m not sure how helpful that theory is to other people.
    If it helps, my aunt has perfect pitch, and my little brother too. But nobody else in my immediate family.

  34. Izzie said

    I can sing a C out of the blue, but sometimes it is wrong. I’m not sure what I have, because I can’t pick notes out of the blue; I have to sing a C first and then work from there. I can sing mostly perfectly in tune, and if people sing out of tune, I can’t sing with them. The other day I was singing unaccompanied with our school chamber choir. We were singing Tavener’s ‘The Lamb’ and I am absolutely certain that the top sopranos modulated into a different key when all four parts sang together. I had a solo afterwards and I couldn’t sing it properly because it was in a different key and I began to panic. I am pretty sure I have relative pitch because I can easily work out intervals when I am given two notes on the piano. I just want to know if I have perfect pitch or not. Please reply!

  35. JV said

    In order to have perfect pitch, you need to be able to sing the middle C out of the blue every single time. If you only did it 4 out of 10, then it was just guessing.

  36. Bev Haulmark said

    I keep getting an error message when I click on the virtual keyboard. It won’t go where it’s supposed to go. :(

    I’m an Arts Ed Director and would love to try this!

  37. that guy said

    I think people who have claimed to learn perfect pitch may in fact have learned relative pitch by comparing a known note to the note they hear

  38. Byron said

    I found this post via google. Interesting discussion going on, but it seems the last post was made over a year ago?

    My own experience is that I’ve always been able to recall songs on key but I didn’t know what the notes were called, having only learned to read music as an adult. Being a piano player, I used lots of piano songs (as well as other songs I’ve listened to a lot) to make that connection. For example, if a song begins on D#, I would use that as a reference in my mind to produce the pitch. If I hear a pitch played, it would remind me of a song I know in that key and thus I could tell you what pitch was played. With lots of practice, I am more often able to just ‘go straight’ to the pitch – i.e., I hear a pitch, and think, “A” or some letter name. I am not perfect at it yet, but I’ve gone from not being not at all being able to identify any pitch at all, to being able to sing them with practically 100% success and identify pitches that I hear very quickly (and almost a 100% success rate as long as I’m given a bit of time to deliberate). I can pass most AP tests right now, and my success rate is usually around 80-90%. The difficulty comes when notes are played quickly with no time to think. Occasionally I am off by a semitone. For example, there is a test online at USC that I tried and did poorly on, because the time to choose the correct note was something like 3 seconds or less. I quickly got bewildered. On the other hand, another test online where I had more time to consider the notes I scored close to 100%.

    • Xeno said

      Interesting, I took that first test too and bombed out, but I can usually find any note now fairly quickly if music isn’t playing. I can do it by finding a C which I’ve memorized and then determining the other pitches from there. Works well enough for my purposes, but I’d still like to have that instant recognition some day.

  39. Not bozo said

    I don’t know what label I am. I began choral singing as an adult, and just knew where to place myself for each note in any song. I am note perfect, but I have a hard time picking a melody out on a piano. I feel when I am on, and know when others are not. My most glorious times are singing with nothing but the song filling my consciousness and have felt definite spiritual shifts while singing. People who have no concept of channeling music think I am wrong, and feel competitive towards me, It seems if I am perfect then the song is perfect and I strive to be the best I can be. I go around rather than engage in energy games and will be reticent rather than peacock my abilities. For some reason, in today’s world the male aspect of the vocals are predominantly missing because the women are so strong. I can sing with men and give them support and direction and with women, easily. And I am scary to hear, on any song, singing all 4 parts layered…it is so ethereal and other words come out. My big downfall, is I don’t like singing without the music notation in front of me. Singers like singing with me, for I show them the way, pull the music down from the ethers, bring the written notes to life from paper and make the song become a bigger, more engaging experience. They almost always go on and get all the credit for belting out the songs, though not note perfectly for the most part. I have learned there are many doors in singing and to me, it is like a mental, physical, spiritual, emotional video game of trying to get all the notes, and fine tuning it . Then, there is the danger of over-tuning and over thinking, where stress comes in and it is best to not think about the song for awhile, and let it come back fresh.

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