Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10593/21403
Title: Contours in music and speech: the effect of musical aptitude on speech prosody
Authors: Jekiel, Mateusz
Malarski, Kamil
Keywords: speech prosody
musical aptitude
intonation
pitch perception
Issue Date: 2-Dec-2017
Abstract: The exploration of similarities and differences between language and music has recently received increased interest in the field of linguistics and neuroscience. While it is possible to study different domains of language and music, prosody and melody are the two aspects which are objectively similar, as they rely on the same acoustic parameters, i.e. fundamental frequency, amplitude, duration, and spectral characteristics (Schon et al. 2004). These similarities provide the basis for investigating pitch perception in language and music. Zatorre and Baum (2012) argue that there are two pitch processing systems: fine-grained processing, which is responsible only for accurate encoding of musical interval relationships used in scales, and coarse-grained processing, which allows to discriminate between different contours in both speech and music. Contour information is also more perceptually salient and can be detected at an early stage by infants, suggesting that it is a more basic and innate process (Trainor and Trehub 1992). Furthermore, musicians who perform better at processing contours in music also show superior encoding of contours in speech (Wong et al. 2007, Bidelman and Krishnan 2009). However, Billig and Mullensiefen (2012) point out that there is also a limit to the extent that musical training can affect the mental representation of pitch patterns. While the above-mentioned studies focus primarily on the relationship between the perception of contours in speech and music (e.g. Schon et al. 2004), the proposed study tries to explore whether finer processing of musical contours can also lead to improved production of contours in second language speech. In order to investigate this, we recorded 20 advanced Polish speakers of English before and after a two-year pronunciation course, which included segmental and suprasegmental practice. The recordings comprised of a set of short dialogues designed to elicit different intonational patterns from the participants. Using Praat (Boersma and Weenink 2015), we measured the contours of each individual phrase read by the participants and pronunciation teachers to compare the results. To measure the participants’ musical aptitude, we conducted a series of musical hearing tests assessing pitch perception, melodic memory and musical rhythm (Mandell 2009). There was an observable change across the participants’ prosody before and after the course. Moreover, participants with finer musical hearing test results produced more native-like speech contours. These results suggest that musical aptitude does not only affect pitch perception in language and music, but can also influence pitch contours in speech.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10593/21403
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