Absolute, relative, whatever.
I’ve decided it might be fun to work out a version of “La Vie en Rose” for some unfathomable reason. I’ve listened to it on YouTube, but not for a few months. I was wondering what key it was in, so I sat back, thought about what it sounded like the last time I heard it, whistled the thing a bit, and sat down at the piano.
Pick a note. High C. Nope, wrong.
But the minute I heard the C, my finger immediately went for the Ab, without any deliberation. Bam. Ab indeed. And I hadn’t heard that song for a few months up until I wanted to check myself and just listened to it now.
So is that relative pitch, because I had to hit a note before I could accurately (and immediately) place the note I was hearing? Seems like it.
But I could sit back and reproduce the note perfectly from a months-old memory. I would say I don’t have absolute pitch, only because I needed to get a reference pitch first (that high C), after which I was immediately aware that I was whistling an Ab. But I was able to generate the correct note from memory, so it’s not completely relative.
This whole absolute versus relative pitch thing has a lot more shades of grey than people seem to want to imagine.