Essential tones of music rooted in human speech

DURHAM, N.C. -- The use of 12 tone intervals in the music of many human cultures is rooted in the physics of how our vocal anatomy produces speech, according to researchers at the Duke University Center for Cognitive Neuroscience.

The particular notes used in music sound right to our ears because of the way our vocal apparatus makes the sounds used in all human languages, said Dale Purves, the George Barth Geller Professor for Research in Neurobiology.

It's not something one can hear directly, but when the sounds of speech are looked at with a spectrum analyzer, the relationships between the various frequencies that a speaker uses to make vowel sounds correspond neatly with the relationships between notes of the 12-tone chromatic scale of music, Purves said.

The work appeared online May 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Download at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0703140104v1)

Purves and co-authors Deborah Ross and Jonathan Choi tested their idea by recording native English and Mandarin Chinese speakers uttering vowel sounds in both single words and a series of short monologues. They then compared the vocal frequency ratios to the numerical ratios that define notes in music.

Human vocalization begins with the vocal cords in the larynx (the Adams apple in the neck), which create a series of resonant power peaks in a stream of air coming up from the lungs. These power peaks are then modified in a spectacular variety of ways by the changing shape of the soft palate, tongue, lips and other parts of the vocal tract. Our vocal anatomy is rather like an organ pipe that can be pinched, stretched and widened on the fly, Purves said. English speakers generate about 50 different speech sounds this way.

Yet despite the wide variation in individual human anatomy, the speech sounds produced by different speakers and languages produc

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
Duke University

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Essential genes cluster clue to order in the genome
2. Essential genes for embryogenesis uncovered in major mouse mutagenesis project
3. Essential mangrove forest threatened by cryptic ecological degradation
4. Essential oils could help to stamp out MRSA
5. Dinosaurs -- stones did not help with digestion
6. Birdsong sounds sweeter because throats filter out messy overtones
7. Lasers, laureates, competitions infuse symposium to celebrate physics milestones
8. Neurosciences and music meet in Montreal
9. Art and music for the birds
10. Pendulum love, science class gender gaps, musical mind mirrors, and unparticle physics
11. UCLA molecular biologists convert protein sequences into classical music

Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/9/2016)... in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control ... right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... -- The Department of Transport Management (DOTM) of ... US Dollar project, for the , Supply and ... and IT Infrastructure , to Decatur ... of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors participated in ... was selected for the most compliant and innovative solution. ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by providing unparalleled ... medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to the range of ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a range of ... between the two entities said Poloz. Speaking at ... Ottawa , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, ... government. "In certain ... institutions have common economic goals, why not sit down and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one ... of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has ... add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , ... tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the ... at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application ... team,” said Jocelyn Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: