Sounds like absolute pitch—the ability to identify a note without a reference tone—might be genetically determined. “Either you have it or you don’t,” said the lead researcher in a report in Scientific American, who cautioned that even those with the theoretical genetic predisposition must be exposed to music early. It remains to be seen if a single gene controls the tonal gift.
Researchers were surprised by how distinctly two different groups of note-identifiers emerged: those with “highly accurate pitch perception” and those who appeared to be plainly guessing. Perfection was found to have its limits, though: The study confirmed previous anecdotal evidence that those with perfect pitch often misidentify G-sharp as A.