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How to develop Relative Pitch

Updated on December 15, 2011

Want to become a better musician?

Do you know those amazing musicians who just make music on the spot. Those pianists, guitarists and other musicians who hear song, and then immediately make and amazing cover which seemed like they've been practicing for a month. Or maybe you remember a friend who just made an awesome solo out of nowhere.

Relative pitch

That is the tool that sort the good musicians from the amazing musicians. How would you feel if you could transcribe every song you heard to a cover where you also would make a spontaneous improvisation that would blow every bodies mind? What if you had the most amazing tune in your head that you would instantly play on your instrument? That would be pretty cool uh?

Relative pitch is the tool that's being used to tell the interval between two or more tones. If you know that you are hearing tone, let's say C. If you after that hear another tone then if you have developed relative pitch, you should be able to tell that it for example is was a perfect fifth, or in this case... a G. But your real goal shouldn't be to develop relative pitch. That's because if you sing a song for example Dynamite. It's kinda catchy. Then you would more or less hit the tones accurately. Therefore that shows that we know how to do it already. The goal with relative pitch is to master it. A bit like the "Easy to learn, hard to master".


But why should you consider spending time and energy on doing it? You've probably had some thoughts about how cool it would be, but if you haven't, then please let me enlighten you. Your skill level will increase in improvisation, composing and generally a greater understanding of how the notes relates to each others. Who wouldn't like to just find a piano somewhere together with your friends, and making a cover or just improvise. I find it a lot more satisfying to improvise than to play another persons accompaniment, but of course that's just my opinion. But since my improvisation has gotten into a plateau where I just keep playing in a C minor scale while making something up much alike what I played yesterday, then it can still become quite boring and frustrating. A good tip... Don't play in the same key all the time or else you'll end up missing a lot of your instrument.

Wouldn't it be awesome to also "convert" your musical skills to other instruments? Of course you'll need to know the mechanics and scales so you know where each pitch is. If you where a pianist, then instead of just seeing tones in form of pianokeysyou would use your ear to play the instrument. And since a pianos middle C and the corresponding note on the guitar both are musical tones, then there shouldn't be a problem in adding that skill to other instruments.


Who could really benefit from mastering relative pitch. Let's just make it short. Any musician.

Develop it

First know we come to the reason of this hubs existence. You've probably all heard of the Do, Re, Mi... from The Sound of Music. They are an amazing way to master relative pitch. It's called solfege or solfeggio. It's a technique where the seven syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do are used to give each note a character. The technique teaches you to sight sing which is "The Ultimate Tool" for reading sheet music. Think about it. You don't even have to play your instrument to hear the piece because you could just "mind play" it. There are to kinds of Solfege/Solfeggio and they are they are either the movable do and the fixed do. That means that if you are using a movable do, then do could be your F in the F major scale. Or it could be the C in the C major scale. That's why I prefer it from the fixed do which remains on the middle C of a piano for example. And no matter what key you're playing in, you always have the do as middle C. I find the other one better because it shows you the same pattern that you can transfer to every scale and therefore easily transpose pieces. There are some exercises that you can do to improve your relative pitch and I found a golden site with some some very good exercises which I am using myself. It's on the site "I Breath Music"


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    • Dawit T profile image

      Dawit T 6 years ago from Denmark


      Glad you liked it

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Very interesting - given my total lack of any musical training this opens my eyes a little bit. I'll be reading up some more on relative pitch, thanks for sharing. Voted interesting.