Essay on Discovering Further Links between Language and Music

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Arguably, language is the one thing that sets humans apart from animals. The capacity to share thoughts and ideas through the spoken word allows humans to function as a group, enabling humanity to function as an entity greater than the sum of its separate individuals. Music shares similar properties, as it is also transmitted and perceived through sound. Both have the potential to connect people and are innate properties of the human being. The aim of this paper is to discover further links between the two based on empirical evidence. The main sources that will be consulted are articles produced by Dr. Aniruddh Patel, a pioneer in the field of music psychology, with works ranging from music cognition to rhythm perception. The first study…show more content…
It is widely acknowledged by linguists that British English represents “stress-timed” language, whereas French represents “syllable-timed” language. To detail the exact difference between the two, stress-timed languages have “equal duration between stresses,” while syllable-timed languages show “equal duration between syllable onsets” (Patel & Daniele, 2003, p. 36). With this basic piece of background information, Patel & Daniele hypothesizes that syllable-timed languages have greater variability in the duration of its vowels as opposed to syllable-timed languages. Intuitively, this makes sense since the temporal distance between syllables is smaller compared to the distance between the various points of stresses made in speech, which can span multiple syllables and words. This logic gave birth to the “normalized Pairwise Variability Index” measure of speech rhythm or simply, nPVI. As the term “pairwise” suggests, the nPVI takes the length between each pair of adjacent events in time, and calculates how much variability there is among the various duration of vowels compared to the average duration over the entire series of events. The main strength of the nPVI measure lies in the fact that it is a relative measure of events that take place over time, allowing one to take an nPVI value for both music and language and selectively measure the variability of speech rhythm and musical rhythm within the same
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