Absolutes Gehör: Entdecken Sie die Fähigkeit des Tonhöhengedächtnisses

Absolute pitch: discover the power of pitch memory

A absolute pitch, also known as pitch memory, is characterized by the ability to determine the exact pitch of a sound you hear (passive absolute pitch) or to produce any sound exactly with your own voice (active absolute pitch). If you have active absolute pitch, you automatically also have passive pitch. To be considered absolute hearing, this ability must be applicable without any aids or a reference tone.

In some cases, absolute hearing is only pronounced in a certain frequency range, and the sound source can also have an influence on the ability. In this case, we speak of selective absolute pitch - for example, the tones of a piano can be recognized, but not tones produced by other instruments.

About 0.01-1% of people are thought to have absolute hearing. An increased frequency is assumed in babies, but it is thought that the talent often atrophies due to inadequate support and use. Absolute hearing is also assumed to occur in some animal species. However, how exactly this special hearing ability comes about is not fully understood.

Absolute hearing test: do I have absolute hearing?

It is relatively easy to find out whether you have absolute pitch. Simply ask yourself the following questions or test it out if you don't know the answer yet:

  1. When you listen to pieces of music, can you immediately identify the individual notes down to the smallest nuance without a reference tone or aids?
  2. Listen to a piece of music - can you sing or play it right away without any reference tone or aids?

Training absolute pitch

For many years, absolute pitch was considered innate, but today it is no longer assumed to be a purely genetic predisposition, but rather a certain learnability. However, this ability to learn is limited to a critical window - up to the age of six. In this age range, some children consciously or unconsciously learn the ability of absolute hearing, usually facilitated by intensive contact with music. Children who learn to play an instrument at the age of three are therefore much more likely to have absolute pitch.

Another factor that has a beneficial effect is learning a tonal mother tongue. This includes Thai or Mandarin, for example. In tonal languages, pitch differences differentiate meaning, i.e. the pronunciation of otherwise identical words determines the meaning of the word. For speakers of a non-tonal language, these subtle differences are often barely perceptible.

In adulthood, it is not possible to achieve absolute pitch through training. Even selective absolute pitch cannot be extended to other instruments. However, it is realistic to develop relative hearing. This includes pitch determination with the aid of a reference tone. For training, exercises to memorize sounds with closed eyes are recommended.

Absolute hearing giftedness

Having absolute pitch is both a curse and a gift. First of all, it is by no means a prerequisite for being musically gifted, nor is it a guarantee of musical talent. In fact, sensitivity can even become an obstacle, as those with absolute pitch will notice any difference if an instrument is out of tune or out of tune. As a result, pieces of music may sound wrong or even unpleasant.