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Thread: Are music and speech closely related?

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Default Are music and speech closely related?

    I remember shortly after watching Leonard Bernstein's excellent 1973 Harvard lectures wherein he proposes that singing originated about the same time as speech, I then heard a science podcast featuring a woman who was editing an audio of her spoken words. The phone rang and when she got up to answer left the audio file of her voice on loop, only to return and hear music coming from the computer.

    I was intrigued by the story but lost track of it. I only recently found this web site explaining her findings: Diana Deutsch: Speech to Song Illusion .

    There very first sample (Sound Demo 1) may be the most compelling. It's the sample I heard in the podcast.

    Between this and Leonard Bernstein's ideas, a lot of questions could be raised.

    Since Deutsch's accidental speech song is very close to common practice intervals (as are birds or so I've heard in another podcast) creating its own melody, is Bernstein correct in assuming music is derived from speech or that they both derived from the same impetus? Or is it rather that our speech patterns are influenced by the musical language we grow up with?

    I am not advocating common practice with these questions, or stating it is somehow better. My journey into more modern techniques such as sprectralism and miocrotonal music has been fascinating and I don't want to turn back. I just find this interesting from an anthropological standpoint.

    Anyway, I'd enjoy reading what you folks think of this admittedly vague unfocused topic I'm interested in.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    I think so, and Steve Reich has shown this in several of his compositions.
    One such springs to mind:Come Out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9AsOxTjqys

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    I've heard that a number of times. The effect is quite startling, to say the least. After a while, it starts to give me a headache What does it say?

    I'm sure all the 'bears' on tiny chat would know. Let's ask Albert7

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston View Post

    Since Deutsch's accidental speech song is very close to common practice intervals (as are birds or so I've heard in another podcast) creating its own melody, is Bernstein correct in assuming music is derived from speech or that they both derived from the same impetus? Or is it rather that our speech patterns are influenced by the musical language we grow up with?
    Try: the musical patterns of speech are influenced by the language we hear. A German study found:

    the cry melody of German infants tends to be at its most intense at the start before then falling away. French infants, on the other hand, more often cry in rising melodies and therefore place greater stress at the end. As a result, they reproduce exactly the same intonation patterns that are typical of their respective mother tongues.
    Interestingly Deutsch has also worked on the relationship between tonal languages and perfect pitch see

    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/archive/new...neLanguage.asp

    or

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...nal-languages/

    Obviously the abilty to hear pitches will in some way influence yourmusicality.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    I've had some sing-song teachers in HS and they all put me to sleep.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    A new series on BBC R3, The Listening Service, featured the 'speech-to-song' illusion...

    For those who can access the BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078...odes/downloads
    "I left TC for a hiatus, but since no-one noticed my absence, I came back again."

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    A new series on BBC R3, The Listening Service, featured the 'speech-to-song' illusion...

    For those who can access the BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078...odes/downloads

    I do have 4 BBC television channels, alas no radio, looks interesting

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    Senior Member Pat Fairlea's Avatar
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    I once asked a polyglot Finnish student how he learned new languages with such facility. He said that he listened to "the music of the spoken language" first, then learned vocabulary, then grammar.

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