Perfect Pitch Vs. Relative Pitch: A Debate Answered by Peter Hung

By Ian Holubiak on Dec 09, 2015 09:14 AM EST
Mondays With Max: Max Weinberg's Rainbow Room Residency Elya Vasiliev performs with The Max Weinberg Orchestra during Mondays With Max: Max Weinberg's Rainbow Room Residency at The Rainbow Room on August 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo : D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tishman Speyer)

Perfect pitch, the absolute identifier of harmonic tone and its designation, is an uncommon trait that some are born with. For Peter Hung, who posted a review of his talent on Quora, the innate sense enables him and aspiring musicians to access a fast-track to music excellence.

For those of us born with relative pitch, we must endure the bleakness of the real world--but Hung doesn't see it that way. Actually, Hung found a way to romanticize the differing measures of note identification.

He writes:

"Imagine for a moment that your friends all see the world differently. They can see everything fine, the shapes, the shadows, the textures. The colors are there too: the sky glows blue, the leaves on trees look pretty green, and the earth is a homely brown. All is well. But wait! They look away for a moment then back at the same scene. The sky's purple now! The trees have turned teal, and the earth's a sickly yellow."

This shift in color is applicable to a similar shift for those with relative pitch, in which hearing and identifying notes can waiver on the same pitch. But for those born with absolute pitch, just as it is with identifying color on a color wheel, they can identify each individual note in a scale--even when played at random and out of sequence.

He continues:

"The world seems totally in order for me; like how you always know blue is blue, I always know D-flat is D-flat. Like how everyone else in the analogy quickly loses track of absolute coloring but can always keep the colors distinct and in order, that's how having relative pitch but not absolute pitch (i.e. what most people have) would be like in my mind: weird!"

While one is a skill you are born with, however, the other can be practiced to resemble perfect pitch.

Perhaps one might be greater than the other but there are many factors that play into this unique skill. Refer to Peter Hung's post for any inquiry you might have as he as addressed a plethora of ideas on the subject.

For now, try and get your chops up with some pitch programming below.

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TagsPerfect pitch, absolute pitch, Relative Pitch, Peter Hung

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