Perfect Pitch: Beethoven and the Chef

Jan 18, 2021

Credit Mary Noble Ours

We’re always fascinated by abilities that are far beyond the realm of our experiences, or even of our imaginations. Some people can hold their breath for 10 minutes, some can jump four feet off the ground, some can memorize the digits of pi out to thousands of places. And some musicians—actually many musicians, although I’m not one of them—can hear any note and tell you what that note is. It’s called having “perfect pitch.” And what about those musicians—Beethoven being only the most famous of many—who can hear combinations of pitches in their heads—chords, harmonies—and can invent, just in their heads, sequences of harmonies that have never been heard before? I was reminded of Beethoven by a TV show I saw recently, about a great chef who because of an operation had temporarily lost his sense of taste, but who was still able to combine ingredients in his mind and create brilliant new dishes.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.