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absolute pitch

absolute pitch, the position of a tone in the musical scale determined according to its number of vibrations per second, irrespective of other tones. The term also denotes the capacity to identify any tone upon hearing it sounded alone or to sing any specified tone. Experiments have shown that this ability, a form of memory, can be acquired through practice, but in some individuals it appears to be inborn.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Music: Theory, Forms, and Instruments


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