Absolute Pitch in Singers

The University of Melbourne, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

Absolute Pitch in Trained Singers

An Exploratory Mixed Methods Study

What is this research about?

Absolute pitch (AP), commonly called “perfect pitch”, is the rare ability to name or produce (e.g., sing) any note without needing to hear a reference note. It is still not fully understood why some people have this ability and not others.

Few studies have investigated the relevance of absolute pitch to musicians. Our study aims to help answer this question by investigating how absolute pitch affects trained singers. We have chosen to study singers because previous research has focused mainly on instrumentalists, and we believe that absolute pitch is more relevant to singing than playing an instrument.

This study involves two phases. The first phase (due to commence in October, 2021), involves interviewing AP singers and teachers of AP singers about their experiences, practices, and beliefs regarding AP. Broadly, the questions we are investigating are:

• How is absolute pitch relevant to singers?

• How do AP singers differ from singers who are non-possessors?

• What are the pedagogical implications of these differences?

• What effect does absolute pitch possession have on self-identity in singers?

In the second phase of this study (due to commence in 2022), we will test some of the hypotheses that emerge from first phase. Singers who take part in the first phase are not obliged to take part in the second phase, and vice versa.