For Seattle violinist, perfect pitch is handy in the symphony and at parties | KNKX

For Seattle violinist, perfect pitch is handy in the symphony and at parties

Nov 30, 2019

This story originally aired on Oct. 27, 2018.   

If you are a musician in the Seattle Symphony, you already have a certain mastery of your craft. Andy Liang is in the second violin section with the Symphony, and despite being an incredible talent, he would probably be the first to tell you that he is not perfect. But he does possess at least one type of perfection: perfect pitch.

Perfect pitch, sometimes called absolute pitch, is defined as a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone. So basically, Andy can hear a note and tell you what that note is without any point of reference. And Andy has had this ability his whole life.

"I started playing violin at the age of 5, and, yeah, I think it was always something I remember having."

For Andy, this is very helpful as a musician. When a piece of music requires Andy to play a very fast or very high run of notes, he is able to hear and identify those notes in his head before he plays them. 

In this interview, Andy identifies not only notes being played on the piano, but also the somewhat out-of-tune humming of our host, they key of a grunge song, and the note of a censor beep that our show uses to cover up bad words, all within a second or two.