Arlen Roth on Perfect Pitch
For a long time now, I’ve been quite aware of not only having perfect pitch and perfect relative pitch, but I’ve also noticed that it seems to get better with age (and of course, experience!) The true fact is that many of us already have this “perfect pitch” ability, but are not really aware enough of it yet, or may not be aware of it at all!
After all, if you’ve ever heard a song in your head in the correct key just before it started playing, or if you noticed that an object may have fallen on the floor and you can identify the actual note it made relative to any other music that is playing at the time, you are cultivating perfect relative pitch. It also really can make life very interesting from an aural standpoint, since you can now truly hear everything as music, and as having a note to it. This is far more interesting than the idea that a sound is just “a sound.” Now that “sound” has more meaning than ever before, and it is something that can immediately be applied to your guitar playing, or any other musical endeavor you may be into.
It’s great for example, to be playing lead parts or soloing, and to literally know milliseconds ahead of time just what notes you want to hear, and then being able to execute that very thing. This all helps in composing, soloing, improvising and let’s face it, when we are soloing, we really are composing as we go along. From the moment we start that guitar solo, we have basically committed ourselves to how the rest of the solo will “play out” and just how it will eventually end, too!
You can try some ideas on your own to make this all work, and also to see just how far-reaching your “perfect pitch” may be. Try soloing with no accompaniment for example, and attempt to play all the changes without playing any three-note chords. Instead, rely upon single notes and “shapes” with an emphasis on what is coming ahead of you to try to define the song’s changes. It’s one thing to do this for the classic I-IV-V changes, but if you’ve got that well in hand, a new change thrown into the mix such as a 7 chord, or a relative minor 6th chord should not really throw you too off the mark. Rather, you should actually hear what these new changes do, and how they affect your overall sound and ideas, and then you should really take these new sound relationships and pitches to heart. You’ll be amazed at just how quickly you’ll start to recognize these aural relationships, and how soon they become a part of your permanent vocabulary! Happy improvising!
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.