Absolute Pitch vs Relative Pitch

Absolute (perfect)  pitch is the ability to hear a note by itself and tell which note it is with out any point of reference.  Most experts say that this skill can only be developed in early childhood, although there are many programs out there that claim to teach it.

Relative pitch is the ability to hear two notes and be able identify the interval between them or the notes if one of them is known.  Nearly all experienced musicians possess this skill to some degree.  It is can be used in transcribing music and improvising.  It is also important when playing with other people, to quickly figure out what they are playing.

So which is more important, developing absolute pitch or developing relative pitch?  Relative pitch is more necessary for playing music.  In my opinion it is not worth your time to develop perfect pitch, if indeed, it is even possible after a certain age.

One way to learn relative pitch  is to associate the intervals with melodies that begin with the same intervals.   For example, the interval between the first two notes of the Star Wars theme is a fifth, or seven frets.  After you have memorized the sounds of the intervals, you will no longer need the songs to identify them.

Here is a link to a free ear training program.  With regular practice you should be able to quickly identify each interval

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