Several world renowned musicians like Hendrix, Tchaikovsky, Sinatra and Mozart have had the "perfect" pitch. It is the ability of recognizing a musical note’s pitch without the need of comparing it to any reference note. This is a very rare attribute in Europe and the U.S.
It was for long believed that acquiring perfect pitch was genetic. A new research by Diana Deutsch from the University of California has however revealed that it is more the result of environment than genes, more of nurture than nature. This means that it is virtually available to everybody.
Many East Asian languages are tonal, unlike English. That is, a word’s meaning often depends on the tone which is used to say it. She guesses that for fluent speakers of a tone language, learning perfect pitch is similar to learning a second tone language; and so, pitch is an extra-musical ability.
Deutsch agrees that it is still unrevealed how and why certain speakers of non-tone languages have the perfect pitch.
She suggests that those parents who want their children to develop perfect pitch should introduce them simultaneously to musical tones and their verbal labels right from early childhood.