I received a comment on the post I wrote on March 17th, 2009 about sight reading music. The author of the comment has some very kind words for me, but what was said about “perfect pitch” caused a momentary thought pattern to occur, actually it became a point of major interest that deserves a post of it’s own. Perhaps perfect pitch and reading music go together like “white on rice” and “cold is to ice” (Stevie Ray Vaughan “Close To You”).

Comment: Your choice of language always leaves me hanging on the edge of my seat wanting to read more. You by far are one of the most engaging writers I have had the pleasure of reading online.

Much like storytelling, your posts are always informative, based on factual structures and give to much to anyone interested in the topic.

I am on of those musicians blessed with perfect pitch. I can play Bach by ear as well as many other composers for extended pieces, but I have yet to grasp reading music as well.

Similarly I started as a kid with an attempt, but had far more fun letting a midi capture the layers using tracks during composition.

Now, I just look at the keys and when time permits, dust them off and have a good session.

Your words have inspired my to maybe go back to basics and learn to read notes for that reason, to grasp the brilliance of others.

Thanks again.


What is perfect pitch? Absolute pitch, commonly referred to as perfect pitch, is the cognitive ability that uses an array of brain activities that an individual has to use in order to collect, classify, store, search, and retrieve information from your brain for daily activities, including the ability to hear absolute pitch.

The main focus is about how individuals apply thinking processes related to music to support their activities involved in the comprehension of music. Simply put, It is defined as the ability to identify the pitch of a musical tone without an external reference pitch. To be considered an absolute pitch holder, an individual must have the ability to identify pitches, keys and notes accurately and without thought.

Perfect pitch usually runs in a family, which means that the children of a family with a member that has perfect pitch has about 15 times more chances of having this quality than a child from a family with no history of perfect pitch. That does not mean the non-gifted people can not develop perfect pitch.

Mozart had perfect pitch, it was discovered when he was three years old. Surprisingly among professional musicians from concert virtuoso’s to some of the current and past rock and roll artists and greatest guitar players, 40 to 80 percent possess perfect pitch. So is it true that perfect pitch is the most valuable asset of musicianship? Higher even than other factors like practice sessions, sight reading music, good rhythm, accurate memory, and creativity?

I’m not qualified to answer that since I don’t sight read music yet and I don’t have perfect pitch. I can say with a certain degree of truth that the more I play my guitar, I find myself recognizing certain keys and notes within a few seconds of listening to a piece of music. With that being said my abilities are limited since I choose to play almost exclusively one style of music. The blues has many repetitive notes and keys involved, and the repetition allows me to focus on specific pitches. Obviously the more one is exposed to a pitch the easier it is to recognize.

Most of the time I can pick out the key of a piece of music being played in a few seconds. What I have noticed is that whether you are gifted with this vibe or not, it can be developed.

There are many online guitar courses that teach perfect pitch. I’m not a huge fan of online courses until I try them myself, however “Perfect Pitch Ear Training” Super Course is in it’s 28th year of production. Usually legitimate programs stand the test of time and 28 years is a long time.

The main goal of this article is to get your opinion of what you think is more important and valuable to understand first. We can’t find a conclusive, definitive answer that is understandable on the internet at GuitarPlayersCenter, which is why I would like the opinion of some of my readers who know more about these subjects than me. Thanks and Enjoy.

8 Responses to Perfect Pitch is The Perfect Compliment To Reading Music

  1. Pingback: Topics about Bass » Perfect Pitch is The Perfect Compliment To Reading Music

  2. Really interesting topic–and I agree about your writing, Danny! There’s some neat info and stories about perfect pitch in Oliver Sach’s Musicophilia,

  3. Fascinating article — I agree with Jeffrey’s comments. You are a great writer and pick such interesting subjects to write on. I’m just learning and learning. I will re read these articles again.

  4. I am amazed at how you phrase things in your writing and this article is no different. Great post on pitch and reading music.

  5. David Burge’s perfect pitch course — the one you refer to as having stood the test of time — is intensively marketed but not likely to be effective for anyone. Just look at the quality of the marketing materials — the “long copy” advertising, the sham “review” sites being put up — and the high ranking those sites return in google adwords — a sign that someone’s willing to spend a lot of money in acerbic attacks on anyone who might ‘compete’. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture and I have yet to encounter evidence of a single person who’s actually completed the course with verified perfect pitch.
    If you want to see what true perfect pitch is, go to the UC Berkeley test site and try the test.
    My bet would be that no one who has taken the Burge course would stand the slightest chance of passing.

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