church human religion

Perfect Pitch in a Relative Group

In D.C, a small choral group got together to practice. They were classically trained voice musicians excelling in chamber music and using this to minister to churches up and down the East coast. One young man in particular was exceptional in the group because of his perfect (or absolute) pitch; and yet this young man had to lower the volume of his voice when he sang.

My wife explained how the group director would always rely on the young man to set the pitch for the group. “D sharp.” He’d bark out and the young man’s voice would hit the note, dead on: clear strong and sure.

Then everyone would start to sing together and it just didn’t sound right. It wasn’t that the other voices sang bad it’s just that everyone else had what’s known as Relative Pitch. That is the ability to remain on pitch as to the notes that are actually being sung. So if the choir is on D instead of D sharp the song will still sound perfect—save for the Perfect Pitcher. He’d have a problem blending with the music and his voice would stick out, sounding dissonant in a bad way..

Thing is, neither of these two are wrong. The Perfect Pitch guy is perfect for setting the level of the group but the Relative Pitch people are perfect for actually existing as part of a group and maintaining cohesiveness and beauty.

There’s some awesome application there for the church, individualism and corporate theology: I just have to find the right way to frame it.

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