Absolute Pitch in Singers

A Mixed Methods Study

The University of Melbourne (Faculty of Fine Arts & Music)

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 how absolute pitch is relevant to musicians. Our study aims to contribute to knowledge in this area by investigating the impact of absolute pitch on 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.

The methods we are using include online interviews with AP singers and an online survey for singing teachers who have taught AP possessors.

Broadly, the questions we are investigating are:

• How is absolute pitch relevant to singers?

• How do AP singers differ from normal (non-AP) singers?

• What are the pedagogical implications of these differences?

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