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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm pretty sure that I don't have perfect pitch, but I don't know what to call this. Maybe some of you can help me figure this out?

Here's the deal:

I can sing back tunes and songs in the right key 100% of the time. I hear it in my head just like it was on the recording, every note, every instrument, every chord...it doesn't matter if I've heard the song 2 billion times or just once, and it doesn't matter how long it's been since I first heard it, I can always sing it back accurately. I always know when someone is singing, humming, or playing a tune in the wrong key (or a key that's not the original one).

I honestly thought that this was normal until a friend told me that most people couldn't do this. He proceeded to test me by asking me to sing various jazz tunes, and even random parts of classical sax repertoire and Ferling etudes that I hadn't played in months. To his surprise, I was spot on from the first note every time. It's like I can pull the pitches out of nowhere, no context needed besides what is already in my brain.

Just to clarify though, I don't have a memorized reference pitch in my brain that I use to come up with the other notes. I find that extremely hard to do, actually, and it takes way longer than just hearing the right note.

Also, if somebody were to play a random note on the piano (or any instrument), I can instantly match it on my sax every time. I'm not the best at naming the note verbally, but I can "say" the note with my sax, if that makes any sense. I don't think about what note I'm going to play though. It's like I just know exactly where to go without a thought. I've had a number of professors and friends ask me if I have perfect pitch (some have even told me that I do), but I always say that I do not because I thought that perfect pitch was when you could name the notes that you hear verbally, not using an instrument. While I can do this, I always have to think for a second about how it feels when I play that note on sax, or even just imagine myself playing that note on sax, then I can say the note name accurately. It's super weird...or maybe it's not, I don't know for sure :p

In any case, whatever this is called (if it's anything at all) has made transcribing solos super easy, that is when it comes down to getting the right notes at least! It's also been useful for helping out vocalists with the starting pitch of any given tune, and for transcribing arrangements with lots of horns and the like.

Anyways, I'm hoping all of this makes sense. I really don't know if this is some sort of low level perfect pitch, or if it's just super developed pitch memory or something. Any thoughts? Please feel free to ask about anything that's confusing!
 

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It sounds to me like you have relative pitch and pitch memory. People confuse these with "perfect pitch", which is the ability to sing a note exactly on pitch. I got what you got.
 

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To me it is clearly perfect pitch what you have.
But there are levels of it in the irrational part of hearing a sound and been able to identify its pitch.
The degree of ability depends on envelope, harmonic content, masking, level, duration and the acoustics of the space the sound is created and developed in.
But also the rational part of naming the sounds needs training.
 

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Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.[
AP can be demonstrated via linguistic labeling ("naming" a note), auditory imagery,[clarification needed] or sensorimotor responses. For example, an AP possessor can accurately reproduce a heard tone on their musical instrument without "hunting" for the correct pitch.[3][4] Researchers estimate the occurrence of AP to be 1 in 10,000 people.

Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities, achieved without a reference tone.
 

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It sounds more like perfectrelativepitchmemory than perfect pitch to me. It's common to be able to sing back tunes that you know in the right key, especially for singers, and even nail the first note, from memory (if you've heard it enough). When it's not in the key of the original recording that you've heard many times, it's obvious immediately. That's not unusual at all and getting the right note out of a sax, to match a note that you just heard, is a matter of practice ... I don't think it has anything to do with perfect pitch.

If the OP can also sing a note that someone calls out, and have it be accurate with a tuned piano (or a tuner), then maybe he has perfect pitch. I think that perfect pitch, for the musician, means they have some sort of an internal A=440.


Turtle
 

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If the OP can also sing a note that someone calls out, and have it be accurate with a tuned piano (or a tuner), then maybe he has perfect pitch. I think that perfect pitch, for the musician, means they have some sort of an internal A=440.

Turtle
Bingo
 

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It sounds to me like you have relative pitch and pitch memory. People confuse these with "perfect pitch", which is the ability to sing a note exactly on pitch. I got what you got.
Agreed. When I was in school I was taught perfect pitch is hearing notes before or outside the tempered scale. And perfect pitch can interfere with a working, practical relative pitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re : Re: Is this some sort of perfect pitch?

Thanks for all the responses guys. Sorry that my original post is so long!

Perfectrelativepitchmemory. Fixed it. You're welcome.
Is this really a thing?? I get the feeling that perfectrelativepitchmemory is not a real term lol

For example, an AP possessor can accurately reproduce a heard tone on their musical instrument without "hunting" for the correct pitch.

Generally, absolute pitch implies some or all of the following abilities, achieved without a reference tone.
This honestly sounds like me. I don't need or use a reference tone to find other pitches, so I don't think it's relative pitch. My relative pitch is pretty bad actually. I'm working on improving it though!
 

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Maybe it's that you haven't practiced naming the notes? Or practiced hearing them and naming them? If you can sing the right notes for all those tunes you talked about, it seems that you just have to go that extra step of thinking of a Eb and singing it just like you would sing a tune. If you are always right when singing a tune then that should transfer to being always right when you sing an Eb once you learn it. Then hearing the pitch would be just a matter of practice which maybe you haven't done yet?
 

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Doesn't matter what you call it. There are different degrees of absolute pitch, as there is eidetic memory (absolute pitch is arguably a form of eidetic memory).

Just use the gift--the name is inconsequential.
 

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Re: Re : Re: Is this some sort of perfect pitch?

I don't need or use a reference tone to find other pitches....
Then I suspect you do have perfect pitch. The fact you can't name the notes only means you haven't learned the names. You can do that easily enough. One thing I've heard about people with perfect pitch is they can't stand to hear a note that is even slightly out of tune. Not sure if that's true or not, but if that's the case with you it might also suggest perfect pitch.

I agree with hakukani, though. Who cares what it's called? Use whatever talents and tools you have.
 

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... it can be a curse rather than a blessing.
Why? Is it because you are then annoyed when you hear music or songs sung slightly off key?

I'm the exact opposite: it would take me five minutes of hunting to play the simplest children's tune if I didn't have the sheet music in front of me.

:-(
 

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Agreed it can be a curse rather than a blessing.
My sax teacher has got a student recently that plays piano and has absolute pitch. The guy refuses to learn the sax fingerings in its transposed key as we all do. He can't stand learning that fingering a C comes out as an Eb to his ears. He's learning all sax fingerings in the concert key. I wonder how long he'll keep up with that....
 

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it can be a curse rather than a blessing.
Why? Is it because you are then annoyed when you hear music or songs sung slightly off key?
I'm not annoyed because I don't have perfect pitch. It's people who do have it that have sometimes reported to me that it can be a curse. It may be due to having too critical an ear for tuning, when often notes that aren't perfectly in tune can sound better than those that are. Good relative pitch may be more useful I think.

My sax teacher has got a student recently that plays piano and has absolute pitch. The guy refuses to learn the sax fingerings in its transposed key as we all do. He can't stand learning that fingering a C comes out as an Eb to his ears. He's learning all sax fingerings in the concert key. I wonder how long he'll keep up with that....
I kept it up for about two years.

If you have perfect pitch, it's incredibly important I think to get really used to transposition.
 

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How do these perfect pitch freaks cope with variations in the diapason ?

A few (of many) examples:

Modern Baroque Ensembles: A = 415 Hz
Low Pitch: A = 439 Hz
(Stuttgart) Concert Pitch: A = 440 Hz
Boston Symphony Orchestra: A = 441 Hz
New York Philharmonic: A = 442 Hz
(New) Berlin Philharmonic: A = 443 Hz
(Old) Berlin Philharmonic: A = 445 Hz
High Pitch: A = 452.4
 
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