When people are polled about the ability they would most like to have, the majority say they would like to be able to sing or play a musical instrument. Scientists have now discovered that we all start out with perfect pitch.
They theorize that most English speakers lose the ability to identify a note by frequency alone because perfect pitch is not necessary for an understanding of English words.
“Our hypothesis is that the ability goes away for most of us because it’s not really useful-unless you happen to be speaking a tonal language like Thai or Mandarin,” says Jenny Saffran of the University of Wisconsin. Perfect pitch is necessary in order to understand the subtle differencesbetween similar sounding words in those languages.
There is evidence that very early musical training can help to preserve perfect pitch. Most musicians started learning to play an instrument at age 8. Saffran believes that computer games could be created that would help a player recognize and retain perfect pitch.
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