Musicians often think that Perfect Pitch is supremely superior to Relative Pitch. It's true in some ways, but it's like comparing apples with oranges. The truth is, Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch are completely separate hearing skills, each with its own unique powers and abilities.
Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch are complementary. They do their jobs best when they work together - like the two hemispheres of your brain: right (artistic) and left (logical).
Let's compare the experiences:
Your experience of music without Perfect Pitch or Relative Pitch
|Without Perfect Pitch or Relative Pitch, your understanding of music is blurred.|
With a completely untrained ear, there is little or no insight into what you hear. Basically: zero comprehension. Of course, everyone can enjoy music without any training whatsoever. But an untrained ear doesn't give you any understanding of the music.
Simply put, without Perfect Pitch or Relative Pitch, you literally have no pitch recognition. Since music is a hearing art, a great ear gives you a natural command of the musical language. A great ear means: an ear that understands pitch.
When you do not know the notes and chords that you hear, the music literally passes you by, not fully heard:
Bottom line: An untrained ear leaves you with unanswered questions about everything you hear.
Your experience of music with Relative Pitch and without Perfect Pitch
With Relative Pitch, you hear music with a fully clear and sharp focus. Your sense of Relative Pitch tells you how pitches relate to one another to create the language of music.
Here's how Relative Pitch works: when you play any two tones, a relationship occurs between them - which you'll hear as a simple sound pattern, or interval:
There are 21 basic Relative Pitch intervals in music, each with its own name and distinct sound. You need to learn each interval by ear.. because.. Relative Pitch intervals are the raw building blocks of all melodies:
Relative Pitch intervals are also the raw building blocks of all chords. This is why Relative Pitch is also lets you name any kind of chord - instantly - by ear.
Relative Pitch gives you a clear insight into music in a whole new way. Examples : You ear can now probe deep into all the harmonies. You can now intelligently choose chords - by ear - to harmonize any melody. You can now easily take music out of your head, and onto your instrument. And when you can follow the the flow of music by ear, you naturally can improvise, compose, and "play by ear" to an impressive degree.
To put all this very simple:
Relative Pitch gives you a mastery of the musical language - all by ear. In fact, many musicians believe that Relative Pitch is all they need in order to excel in music. And for many people, this is probably true. But Relative Pitch lacks a certain aesthetic experience. It lacks the artistic experience of Pitch Color.
What is Pitch Color?
With Relative Pitch, you are still hearing all the tones as "black and white". In other words, all tones sound basically the same. The only real difference is that some tones sound "higher" and some sound "lower". Relative Pitch cannot tell you when you hear a C#, an F# or a B♭. Nor can Relative Pitch tell you the difference between a D Major 7 chord and an F# Major 7 chord.
To know the exact tones you are hearing, you need a new dimension of experience.. which is Perfect Pitch.
Your experience of music with Perfect Pitch and without Relative Pitch
|Perfect Pitch lets you experience each tone as a distinct "pitch color" - so you know exact pitches by ear|
Perfect Pitch gives you the perception of an artist because it endows you with the rich color or every pitch you hear. The experience of Perfect Pitch revolutionizes your abilities in music, because now you know the exact tones you are hearing. Quite naturally, this opens up whole new vistas of artistic possibilities for you.
Yet contrary to popular ideas about Perfect Pitch, a musicians does not experience the full details of the music with Perfect Pitch alone. If your ear does not possess the clarity of Relative Pitch, your experience of music will not be fully focused. To hear the sharp details of what is happening in the music, you need another dimension of hearing. This is the dimension of Relative Pitch.
Your experience of music with both Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch
|With both Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch, you hear the total music picture - in color and fully focused.|
Now.. here's how Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch work together.. example: Relative Pitch tells you that you hear a Major Seventh chord. But now the question is : Which Major Seventh is it? Are you hearing E Major Seventh? G Major Seventh? This is where your Perfect Pitch comes to play.
Working together in many ways, Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch give you the complete picture of the notes, chords, melodies, harmonies, and progressions that create all music.
And you get this all BY EAR!!!