What Is Pitch?
To make a long physics lesson short, pitch is the rate at which a sound vibrates. Mathematically, Hz (hertz, or cycles per second) units denote pitch and the faster the vibration — the higher the tone. The A note for example vibrates faster than a C or D note whereas a G note vibrates much slower than a B note.
Perfect pitch is the sound of exact tones or notes. Its counterpart, relative pitch, is the sound of chords. Since a large part of learning to play the piano entails training the ear, it’s important that you spend some time training yourself to listen for perfect pitches. Practice certainly makes the process easier, however others contend that training yourself to listen for relative pitches at the same time increases your abilities to hear both. Some pianists even claim that training to identify relative pitches enhances the ability to pinpoint perfect pitches.
What’s particularly interesting about perfect pitch is that it isn’t easy to identify and it has thus become the subject of scientific study. It prompts us to ask why some people can easily identify any note while others can’t.
Four Components: The Ear, The Body, and Practice
As musicians, we can tell you that part of the answer lays in practice. Years and years and years of practice not only train your ear, they train your body as well. The ear isn’t the only thing that responds to sound — the entire body responds to sound too. So when you play a note, you’re ears will hear how it sounds and your body will feel how it vibrates even if you’re not conscious of the note’s sound waves.
In a sense, our bodies are tuners in their own right.
So you really have two distinct tools to help you identify perfect pitch and this is why many musicians will say, “that feels about right” when they attempt to match a tone. Believe us when we say that years of practice have a tremendous impact on these “feelings.” The ability to “feel” one’s way through a song isn’t unusual at all and it’s one of the techniques used by blind pianists such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.
Practice of course doesn’t mean to suggest that people can’t achieve perfect pitch through natural ability. Pianists who seem to pick up their lessons rather quickly probably have the natural ability to achieve perfect pitch because their bodies are more sensitive to the vibration of sound.