What exactly is Perfect Pitch? Should my tuner have it?
Perfect pitch (sometimes called absolute pitch) is the ability to remember and therefore name, any given note perceived aurally without reference to a pitch source. If you have passive perfect pitch you will be able to name any note played on a piano in the next room immediately upon waking in the morning. If you have active perfect pitch you will also be able to produce any given note either by singing or whistling. This is not to be confused with relative pitch which is the ability to remember pitch for a period of time but will need refreshing by referencing a pitch tone. While it is possible to improve your skill in relative pitch, perfect pitch appears to be a gift you are either born with or acquire in your early years. Some musical ability is essential in recognising that an individual possesses perfect pitch as the pitches of notes and their labels have to be learned and memorised. However, it is also something which ideally has to be refined according to the frequency assigned to any note. For example, standard pitch is said to be A440; that is, the note A vibrates at 440 cycles per second or its multiples. If the standard changes to A442 then someone with perfect pitch would have to adjust their perception of pitch accordingly; something which many find very difficult. Most piano tuners would probably admit to having a degree of relative pitch but most do not have perfect pitch. It is certainly not a prerequisite for becoming a piano tuner. Those that do have it will still use a tuning fork or other means of setting the pitch because they are modest enough to realise that the fork is more accurate to the degree required for tuning a piano. As it is not prone to variance due to colds or slight illness, the fork is also far more reliable.