Musicians - particularly those who play un-fretted stringed instruments like the viola, viola, cello or bass - tend to develop a very good sense of pitch so that they can play in tune and harmonize with one another.
But not all of us have perfect (or "absolute") pitch - that is, the ability to accurately identify a pitch, with no reference point. If you can hear a doorbell and identify "That's a B flat!" then probably you have perfect pitch. If you need a reference point, then you have relative pitch.
Personally, I have relative pitch, but I've always thought it would be wonderful to have perfect pitch, especially when sight-reading music or picking out notes high in the register, to truly be able to hear right on sight. It would also be fun to be able to tell people that that annoying truck that is backing up on the street is beeping to an F sharp, etc.
However, I'm told by my colleagues with perfect pitch that it can sometimes be painful - for example, if you are listening to a choir that is singing a quarter-step under pitch, there is literal cognitive dissonance for you, with perfect pitch.
In fact, my perfect-pitch friends are so vocal with their complaints - I can't really tell if they are telling me the glass-empty stories to make me feel better, or if it's truly some kind of liability to have perfect pitch. In other words, is perfect pitch is a blessing, or a curse?
I'm curious to hear other perspectives on the matter, specifically, yours. First, do you have perfect pitch or not? And secondly, do you see perfect pitch as a blessing, or as a curse? And once you have votes, please use the comment section to share your thoughts and experiences about perfect pitch and its ups and downs.
If you have an idea for the weekend vote, please e-mail Laurie!
* * *
Enjoying Violinist.com? Click here to sign up for our free, bi-weekly email newsletter. And if you've already signed up, please invite your friends! Thank you.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.