‘Perfect Pitch’ is Not Perfect, Study Says

July 28, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. pitch [pich] (n.) – the degree of highness or lowness of a tone
Example: The performers tuned the guitars to get the right pitch.

2. accurate [AK-yer-it-ee] (adj.) – perfect or free from mistakes
Example: The accurate results of the research make its facts free from errors.

3. covertly [KOH-vert-lee, KUHV-ert-lee] (adv.) – done in a way that is not openly acknowledged or displayed
Example: John used to sing covertly until he was forced to sing on stage.

4. malleable [MAL-ee-uh-buh l] (adj.) – can be easily changed or influenced
Example: Human brain is malleable especially at a young age.

5. perception [per-SEP-shuh n] (n.) – how people understand what they see, hear, taste, feel, and smell
Example: One’s perception about life can change with different experiences.


Read the text below.
A new study in the University of Chicago found that people who believe they have perfect pitch may not be as in tune as they think. 

According to scientists, “perfect” or “absolute” pitch is the phenomenon in which one identifies a note accurately just by hearing it. People with such skill are very rare. In fact, only one in 10,000 people have perfect pitch.

Researchers from the University of Chicago tested musicians with perfect pitch and found that people who were considered to have “perfect pitch” mistaken in-tune sounds to be sharp.

The experiment involved 27 students with “perfect pitch” who were asked to listen to a music piece for 45 minutes. In this set-up, the researcher covertly changed the pitch, which gradually became flatter and flatter. After listening, the participants were not able to notice the changes in the pitch, thinking that it was still in tune.

The study demonstrates the malleability of the brain in which even a brief exposure can still rearrange thoughts that were considered long-term and stable. Results also revealed that exposure to music influences how people identify notes from their sound, rather than having an absolute ability at an early age. The study thus supports the idea that brains can adapt and learn new things even at a later stage in life.

Generally, this study revealed that our environment and perceptions can actually influence how we see the world we live in. Researchers still hope to examine further the possibilities of improving one’s ‘perfect’ pitch.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think this study will affect musicians especially those who have perfect pitch?
·         In your opinion, how can having a perfect pitch be important to musicians?

Discussion B

·         Why is music important? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think are the contributions of the music industry in our society today? Please explain your answer.


July 28, 2013