How can a person born with perfect pitch name notes without first learning the name of the note?

A few people have explained to me that perfect pitch is to know the name of a note and it is something you are born with. If you are not born with it you can t do it.

3 Answers

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago
    Favourite answer

    A person with perfect pitch wouldn't be able to name notes without first learning the names of the notes.

    It's like an ordinary person would be able to see the difference between red, blue and green and be able to recognise those colours whenever they saw them but wouldn't be able to name them without knowing what they were called.

  • Me2
    Lv 7
    4 years ago


    Lorenzo, the explanation is 100% accurate.  Such a person is not born knowing the names of the notes, of course, but if he or she learns that a particular note being played is E above middle C, then anytime that note is heard it is immediately, and with no doubt whatever, identified as E above middle C.  Note only that, but every note that is one or more octaves lower or higher† is similarly identified as an E, once the listener learns that such notes share the same letter name.

    A similar skill, relative pitch, can be learned.  A person with good relative pitch, when given a named note (the "reference pitch") and an unknown note, can name the unknown note.  A person with long musical experience is often able to identify multiple simultaneous notes after any one note is named.  For a person with perfect pitch, any note (and, in my experience, multiple notes) can be named with no need for a reference.

    There are no known cases of persons developing perfect pitch — if you're not born with it, you'll never have it.

    [ † Notes that are one or more octaves apart have a special relationship.  Sound travels as waves in air, somewhat like waves in water.  In water waves, the distance from one crest to the next is the wavelength, and sound waves also have a characteristic wavelength.  If the wavelength of one sound is an exact multiple of two times the wavelength of another sound, our brains interpret them as the same note, while still recognizing that one pitch is higher than the other.

    For example, the A above middle C (440 Hz) has a wavelength of about 78.4 cm.  Sounds with fractional wavelengths (39.2 cm, 19.6 cm) and multiple wavelengths (156.8 cm, 313.6 cm) are all perceived as different "A" notes. This recognition occurs with no music education; it is inherent in the way we process sound. ]

  • 4 years ago

    Not really, it just means they've studied music and such more than most people. Plus it takes really good hearing.

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