Talk:Relative pitch

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(Beyond interval recognition)[edit]

This article focuses too heavily on interval recognition. There is really nothing here about other aspects of relative pitch such as functional/contextual relative pitch - where pitches are understood in the context of a tonal centre. E.g. the notes C-E-G in C major, as scale degrees, would be thought of as "1-3-5" and in tonic solfa as "do-mi-so". With both of these tools, the three notes are experienced as a tonic triad. This gives more information than "maj 3rd, min 3nd", which could form a tonic triad, dominant, subdominant, etc. [i.e. the interval names don't tell you anything about how the pitches function within the tonal centre/overall structure]).
The article is lacking a lot of important info here.
Anyone care to discuss?
—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 5 February 2007

I edited the third definition. I changed "starting pitch" to "reference pitch" which broadens the definition to include what I believe to be one of the most common examples of Relative Pitch: The ability to fix a pitch relative to the tonic (or key).

I also included a link to the section of the Wiki Ear Training Page that deals with this topic. This does not completely balance the article, but it at least gives voice to another school of thought. BobbyBoykin (talk) 15:04, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Acquisition of Relative Pitch[edit]

Why is the acquisition of relative pitch quite difficult among musicians who do not have absolute pitch?
Is it possible that relative pitch may also be a genetic trait that all are not capable of developing?
Aripitch 13:48, 3 May 2007 (UTC)Aripitch

  • I believe it can be both, but it depends from person to person and exposure to music and culture, also years of exposure, especially as children. I have to say though, I disagree that relative pitch cannot turn some what absolute. I've studied music for many years( since the age of 3 1/2) and this has developed my ear so much to the point that I can identify a note or key within 10 seconds. See absolute pitch article. It is interesting.
    Krozo 16:01, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  • It's certainly not genetic. Absolute pitch isn't genetic either, it's usually something developed in early childhood. Just because something seems hard doesn't mean it's genetic or takes 'talent.' It just takes practice.
    - 04:03, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I do not believe that it is difficult. In my experience, most people can differentiate between different melodies, and can recognize a melody regardless of the key in which it is played. This is only possible through relative pitch. Elementary school children are commonly able to learn solfege (do, re, mi) or sing by numbers. BobbyBoykin (talk) 15:20, 26 April 2012 (UTC)


I've always had quite a different understanding of relative pitch to the definition given here. As a practicing professional musician, I find that a high intensity of work gives me a kind of short term absolute pitch. I know that it's not really absolute pitch, because when I'm on holiday, it goes away after about three weeks, but during shorter periods I'm able to "audialize" the pieces I'm working on, and to hear the pitch accurately in my head, even if a week or two has gone by. This has always been my understanding of relative pitch, and that of my colleagues, too, I do believe. The qualities described in the article as comprising relative pitch seem to me to be self evidently necessary for any professional musician, without he or she necessarily claiming to have relative pitch.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:02, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Usefulness of absolute versus relative pitch[edit]

As a professional musician with both absolute and very precise relative pitch, I am convinced that anyone who plays a transposing instrument, and even for those who do not, absolute pitch is a gimmick with no intrinsic value to the practicing musician.

For groups that do not tune to the standard 440 A, a person with absolute pitch has the sense of playing out of tune at all times which is at best, disconcerting. For a person playing a transposing instrument, even when the group is at a 440A, looking a D in your part, and hearing a C, is equally confusing.

I try to subsume my perception of absolute pitch to the back of my brain, so I can concentrate on perfect intonation, which stems solely from good relative pitch ability —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:13, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

  • I have been a professional musician for over forty years, and I agree completely! BobbyBoykin (talk) 15:27, 26 April 2012 (UTC)