Does Jacob Collier have perfect pitch and do I need it to be a musician?!
Im a big fan of Jacob Collier and in of the first video I saw of him was a interview he sang a string of notes as he named them. Curious as I am I quickly went to the piano to check if he was tuned to 440hz and I be damed.
Jacob Collier is not as most musicians. Believe it or not, most musicians even a lot of really good ones, don't have perfect pitch.
What most good musicians have however is really good relative pitch!
And with that, you can come very far.
Perfect pitch is the ability to pick out any note without any reference!
Relative pitch is the ability to pick out a note with a reference to another note. So if I sing a A4 and ask you to sing a Gb5 you would be able to do that!
Do I need perfect pitch?
There is no doubt that for someone like Jacob Collier having perfect pitch is an enormous advantage. If you haven't heard any of Jacobs music take a listen. Here is his arrangement of The Flintstones theme song!
As you can hear there is a lot of things going on in the arrangement. I think that for someone with a relative pitch to record something like this would be really tedious! Mostly because you would constantly have to reference a note every time you pressed record to check if you where in tune!
Seeing Jacob record these really cool multipart voicing in one go is just amazing!
So is Jacob Collier born with perfect pitch?
Yes. Jacob was born with perfect pitch!
Only one in 10,000 are born with perfect pitch and not all of them set out to become musicians!
Perfect pitch is something you are born with, some say you develop it in early childhood and that may very well be the case. But If you set out as an adult with the goal of developing perfect pitch its going to be an uphill battle! Most musicians don´t care about perfect pitch, so why should you?
If you make dope music, nobody will care if you created it by stumbling your way through some chord progressions that you might not even understand!
Should I care about Perfect pitch?
Weeeell, no! One advantage that Jacob talked about in one of his master classes is that I can tune his arrangement correctly and not with equal temperament! But this is subtle and for most people, myself included, picking up on the pitchyness of an equal tempered scale is not something that comes easy!
But could you develop perfect pitch?
Well, I don't think so. I think you can learn to pick out a note. I can pick out an E maybe 7 times out of 10. But If I get influenced by any music I will miss the note, and from time to time I'm a bit sharp or flat! The reason I can do is because of the song "Hallelujah". I played a lot when starting out. I played it in C major so in the arrangement, I used to play it started on an E! So its fixed in my mind! Unless I start to think consciously about it! Also If you play "Piano Man" by Mr. Joel in a key that is far away from the original, I can feel my spider sense tingling. It just feels off to me! But I can't explain why, or by how many semitones it off!
Is there any hope for me!? My ear is sooo bad!
Yes! First of all, you are probably not as bad as you think you are and with a little bit of training, you will be able to develop a very good relative pitch in no time! It will never come a time where someone asks you to sing a C# out of the blue. It just won't happen! A single note without context is just a note! Music is what happens when they start jamming! With good relative pitch, you can become an incredible capable musician!
So in summary. If you don't have perfect pitch, don't worry about it! Focus on developing your relative pitch! It is all you need. Relative pitch is the shit!
When you decide trying to develop perfect pitch is a good use of time...