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"Absolute Ear": Natural geniuses for music

April 19, 2024

The Absolute ear , also know as perfect ear, refers to the ability to identify the frequency of an isolated auditory stimulus without the aid of a referential auditory stimulus (Moulton, 2014), thus, it could be defined informally as the ability to read sounds.

An example of absolute hearing can be observed in great geniuses of music such as, for example, Mozart, Bach and Tchaikovski or through contemporaries such as Stevie Wonder.

What skills do people with Absolute Ear have?

It can be said thatThe Absolute Ear is a skill that modifies the brain functioning of those who have it (Veloso and Guimaraes, 2013), therefore, said people have shown various skills, such as:

  • Identify the note / s in an isolated or simultaneous way together with other notes.
  • Play perfectly a melody heard for the first time without the need for a score.
  • Name the tone of a piece of music.
  • Sing or sing a certain note without an external reference.
  • Name the notes of environmental sounds, such as a horn or the sound of an ambulance

What is the estimated prevalence of people with Absolute Ear?

The occurrence of people with Absolute Ear is rare, it is estimated that the estimated prevalence is 1 subject per 10,000 people, in addition to being more commonly observed in musicians with formal training (Veloso and Guimaraes, 2013).

It may seem much more common for us to have an Absolute Ear than the statistics show, but it probably can be because it tends to be confused with the Relative Ear , because there are people who are able to play a song just having listened to it once, but if to play such a melody they need a first reference tone of that same instrument, it is no longer an Absolute Ear but a Relative Ear.

The Relative Ear is the ability to identify sounds with the help of a reference , a previous note in the case of music, however, people with Absolute Ear are able to "capture" that note in a vacuum (Moulton, 2014). An example of this is the following: Imagine that a person plays the musical note "Re" with any instrument; the person with Absolute Ear will identify that auditory frequency and will identify it as a "Re" without any previous reference note, but the person with Relative Ear will probably not get it right because it will need a second musical note to establish the first tone .

To what factors is the Absolute Ear due? Are we born with it or, on the contrary, can it be acquired?

At the moment this subject generates a lot of controversy, puestor that its origin is not known with certainty. Some studies believe that this ability is due to an innate talent based on genetics, while others believe that the acquisition of Absolute Ear requires an early preparation during a critical period of development (between the ages of 2-5) associated with language development. and without taking into account the genetic predisposition (Veloso and Guimaraes, 2013).

In accordance with this approach, a influence of both aspects , that is, a confluence of genetic factors of the development of the human brain together environmental factors and early exposure.

At the moment the cognitive neuroscience continues investigating the cerebral functions related to the perception and musical production trying to locate new neuronal substrata and genetic correlations. Also, thanks to the support of neuroimaging technologies, such investigations are increasing, however, this fact, for the moment, is an open question.

Bibilographic references:

  • Moulton, C. (2014). Perfect pitch reconsidered. Clinical Medicine, 14 (5), 517-519.
  • Veloso, F., and Guimaraes, M. A. (2013). O Absolute Ouvido: neurocognitive bases and perspectives. Psycho-USF, 18 (3), 357-362.

⭐singing legend⭐| subliminal (Queen version) (April 2024).

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