Perfect pitch


Music is about the relationships between tones. The absolute position of these tones is not a musical matter. If you tune your orchestra down by 1/10 of a tone, it will still play the same piece of music and nothing will be lost.

Colour is absolute. We have a receptor in our retina that detects red. we have perfect colour perception hardwired into our bodies. But there does not exist any corresponding mechanism in the structure of the ear.

Perfect pitch facts

  • nobody is born with perfect pitch, it is not genetic, it is learned.
  • Evelyn Fletcher-Copp over 100 years ago consistently taught this ability to children in her classes; her methods are documented
  • it is a very essential skill of fundamental importance -- people have a psychological tendency to dismiss it (I don't have it, I don't believe I can acquire it, therefore I protect myself with the belief that it is of no value)

Very few people acquire perfect pitch. This is unsurprising; almost nobody makes any intelligent attempt to teach this skill. The early brain learns primarily through reward system. We learn to differentiate the sound of a tree crashing from the roar of a lion. We learn that the white with red spots mushroom gives a stomach ache but the red with white spots one is kinda trippy. But nature provides no reward system that requires identification of pitch. If the lion sounded a D when he was hungry, but an F# if he was just waking up it would be a different story.

Perfect pitch is not a musical skill. It is a pre-musical skill. It is a very essential skill. the ability to identify the pitch of a sound you hear. if you have this ability then you can find the closest note on your musical instrument. This is the first step to fluency. Check out this girl.

Actually, check out this guy, Richard Grayson:

( yes, I e-mailed him and he does have perfect pitch, which I knew anyway from watching the video. I challenge anyone to find someone who is able to do this without perfect pitch. )

And check out Evelyn Fletcher-Copp, (actually check out the whole of Chris's site: aruffo.com. this is a brilliant resource on the subject of perfect pitch). Evelyn was a late 19th-century music teacher, but she was totally radical. she was ahead of her time. she is still ahead of our time. download her music method handbook from that link (15 bucks) and see for yourself. I guarantee that will be money well spent.

She consistently teaches this ability to the children in her classroom. if she starts before 10 years old, she achieves almost 100% success. in fact I consider all of the work presented on this site to be part and parcel of everything contained within that handbook. If you don't want to cough up 15 bucks, go to Chris's site and there is a lot of material put out for free. Read some of the quotes. Get some idea. Especially if you have children or you teach children. Or if you are learning yourself.

My work has shifted towards developing computer games through which one may teach oneself perfect pitch and other musical skills. however, perfect pitch is the most important by far, the most difficult, especially for an adult. as yet, there is no documented case of an adult acquiring this skill. however, I believe this is possible. the next stage of my work will be to teach myself to associate a pitch with its corresponding colour and phonetic sound. I will update this site as this work progresses.