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Have you heard about the perfect pitch? No – not the movie called Pitch Perfect, and no, I did not interchange the words!
Basically, perfect pitch is a skill that most of us can only dream about. It is the ability to name or recreate a tone in an instant, just by listening to it. It is the ability of the brain to keep a tab of tunes and tones and save the name for each one. It is a decoding power with the ear, and yes, only a few possess such skill!
This superhuman skill of perfect pitch is most common to musicians, composers, instrumentalists, and singers. To be honest, musicians with this rare skill seems to have better footing as they enter the music scene as compared to those with regular hearing capabilities.
Musicians with perfect pitch ability can segregate sounds and tones. They can isolate it and recreate each tone. It is indeed a superhuman power that allows musicians to be on top of their game if they have this power. The question is, are they geniuses, or do they have a different brain that allows them to do these things?
The technical term for the perfect pitch is Absolute Pitch or AP. According to a study published in a peer-reviewed neuroscience journal JNeurosci, people with AP have a bigger auditory cortex as compared to those who don’t have this superhuman power.
The auditory cortex is a part of the temporal lobe that processes auditory information that the ear is getting and absorbing from around you. The study revealed that people with AP have a more significant volume of the auditory cortex. The study involved musicians with AP and non-AP skills and a control group with no musical training.
So, who are the lucky superhumans in the music industry with AP?
Mariah or Mimi, as she was fondly called, showed her perfect pitch ability at the age of 4. Her mother noticed how her awesome daughter could just sing any song she just heard.
Mariah is a known singer not just because of her looks but also because of her powerful voice. She is one of the few female vocalists in the world that can sing in a range of 5 octaves. Her voice is described as angelic and amazing. In some of her songs, she even hit the seventh octave. Mariah’s pitch is one of the most popular and most recognized in the world.
In her performances, Mariah introduced her signature breathing technique. She often breathes close to the microphone, and her controlled breathing adds to the power of her sound.
Despite having a powerful voice and a fantastic skill as a perfect pitch, Mariah continued hard to train and develop her skills in singing. She worked hard to develop her style, personality, and looks. She knew that to make it big in the music industry, Mariah Carey’s voice and AP are not enough, she needs showmanship, personality, and beauty, and she got it all.
If you are not familiar with Freddie Mercury or the story of this genius, you should watch the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody! It tells the story of Farokh Bulsara and how he became the face of his band, Queen.
Freddie Mercury was known as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. He was also voted as the best male singer of all time. Freddie writes his song. He is a genius at all levels, even in recording and making their songs as a band.
Freddie is known for his exquisite singing style. He can switch to different tones and pitches while singing, from one octave to an octave higher or more. His style in singing and his voice were considered as the main reasons as to why people are drawn to Freddie and his band, Queen.
When singing, Freddie sounds like he was telling a story with his changing tones and pitches. His songs were very appealing because of how he delivers, plus the content of his songs was well written. As a singer, he was able to express his emotions clearly while singing.
As a bonus, Freddie can also play different instruments, and his playing of the piano was always superb. He took advantage of synthesizers to produce unique sounds on his piano. With his AP skill, Freddie can pick pieces instantly and start experimenting or playing with it. He also notices small mistakes in tones and doesn’t stop until a song gets perfected. This could be the reason why Queen and all Freddie songs are hard to recreate because they are always in perfect tone and pitch when played.
Who wouldn’t know Michael Jackson? With songs that are very popular and can be heard all year long, MJ is indeed one of the pillars of the international music scene. Known as the King of Pop, he is known for his superb voice and simple yet complex dance moves. Along with his performance clothing and looks, MJ is indeed one of the best concert performers in the world.
The King of Pop is known for the touching lyrics of his songs. The words of his songs touch on inequality and social issues, encouraging and calling the world to do good. One of his first albums, “Thriller”, is one of the highest-selling albums in the world.
MJ is an expert in falsetto, and he can produce an extremely high note. Along with his skill as a perfect pitch, he is a perfectionist and spends hours to practice and perfect a single song. MJ is known for perfecting note per note during rehearsals. Just like Freddie Mercury, his AP skill keeps him from ensuring that a tone or pitch is perfect every single time.
According to Hoagy Carmichael, his friend Bing Crosby can produce a perfect pitch train whistle even in his sleep! Carmichael is a good friend of Crosby, a known and perfect pitch singer.
Bing is known for his popular and unique bass-baritone voice. It is his trademark as a singer. A jazz singer, Bing was the first one to perform jazz music in live performances. He also had a style in singing that made him popular – his emotional singing style.
Bing is not just a talented singer. Aside from selling billions of records in discs and tapes and billboard hits – he also acted in numerous movies. It was during his career that the microphone was introduced.
Bing Crosby was one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. Most singers would say that he was their influence in terms of singling style. His perfect pitch skill, along with his natural talent in singing and the way he carries himself was among the few reasons why Bing was a very successful 20th-century performer.
If your family loves to do sing-along as a past time, then you probably heard a lot of Frank Sinatra songs sang by your family members (especially your grandparents). Frank Sinatra is a popular 20th-century singer.
Frank grew in a tavern owned by his parents. He also sings and plays the piano after doing his homework at his parent’s tavern. At a very young age, it was apparent that Frank had an interest in performing and singing in front of a crowd.
Frank didn’t have a formal music education. However, he developed his superhuman absolute pitch skill. It made him a perfectionist. According to his colleagues and work partners, Sinatra’s sixth sense was so great that he could easily hear an out of tune instrument in a playing orchestra. At Columbia Records, he also worked as a conductor.
Frank Sinatra has a reputation for being a perfectionist, and most musicians of his time are afraid to work with him. His attitude towards perfection kept him practicing and practicing until he gets satisfied.
Frank was the only one or perhaps one of the very few people who showed that AP could be learned if you will work and train hard for it. With his high self-confidence, well-ironed suits, and excellent grooming, Sinatra always mirrors perfection. He was a known, handsome womanizer and a gentleman.
Above all, Sinatra was known for his strict work ethic, talent in music, and his incredible skill as a perfect pitch.
Despite believing that AP or perfect pitch is a skill, a study conducted by researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine posited that perfect pitch is not a musical skill or a direct decoding tool. According to Ross and Marks, the researchers, based on the mechanisms of perfect pitch, this is not a skill but rather a result of a brain difference among each individual.
The researchers said that the ability to decode and name a pitch or a tone was based on the ability of the brain to template and categorize these tones and pitches. People who are drawn to music have a higher chance of becoming AP because of their interest, and their brains are adept at such interest.
To date, most musicians would still argue that they don’t need to be AP in to succeed in their musical career. After all, success in music is a combination of timing, luck, talent, skills, hard work, and the people around you.