absolute pitch

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

absolute pitch (sense of). That sense which some people possess of the actual pitch of any note heard, as distinct from relative pitch, which implies the recognition of a note as being a certain degree of the scale or as lying at a certain interval above or below another note heard. The sense of relative pitch may readily be acquired by practice, but the sense of absolute pitch much less easily.

Absolute pitch is really an innate form of memory: the possessor retains in his or her mind (consciously or unconsciously) the pitch of some instr. to which he or she has been accustomed and instinctively relates to that pitch every sound heard. Many good musicians possess this faculty; as many others do not. The possession of this sense is sometimes extremely useful, but may also prove an embarrassment, as, for instance, when a singer with absolute pitch is called upon to read mus. accompanied by an instr. tuned to what is to him or her ‘the wrong pitch’, necessitating a conscious transposition of the vocal line.

views updated

absolute pitch, the position of a tone in the musical scale determined according to its number of vibrations per second, irrespective of other tones. The term also denotes the capacity to identify any tone upon hearing it sounded alone or to sing any specified tone. Experiments have shown that this ability, a form of memory, can be acquired through practice, but in some individuals it appears to be inborn.

views updated

absolute pitch the ability to recognize the pitch of a note or produce any given note; also called perfect pitch.