People who can name a single musical note played in isolation have what is called absolute, or perfect, pitch. A new study suggests that this uncanny ability might be distorted slightly by a common routine in Western music and could fade with age.
Researchers offered an online test of pitch and tabulated the scores from 2,213 musicians who took it. In the test, a participant heard 72 1-second tones and had 3 seconds to identify each one by clicking an on-screen keyboard.
Among the responders, 981 people, ages 8 to 70, had scores high enough to indicate that they had absolute pitch, the scientists report in the Sept. 11 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.