Navigation Links
Essential Tones of Music Rooted in Human Speech

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 produce the same variety of vocal tract resonance ratios, Purves said.

The low est two of these vocal tract resonances, called formants, account for the vowel sounds in speech. "Take away the first two formants and you can't understand what a person is saying," Purves said. The frequency of the first formant is between 200 and 1,000 cycles per second (hertz) and the second formant between 800 and 3,000 hertz.

When the Duke researchers looked at the ratios of the first two formants in speech spectra, they found that the ratios formed musical relationships. For example, the relationship of the first two formants in the English vowel /a/, as in "bod," might correspond with the musical interval between C and A on a piano keyboard.

"In about 70 percent of the speech sounds, these ratios were bang-on musical intervals," Purves said. "This predominance of musical intervals hidden in speech suggests that the chromatic scale notes in music sound right to our ears because they match the formant ratios we are exposed to all the time in speech, even though we are quite unaware of this exposure."

No music, except modern experimental pieces, uses all 12 tones. Most music uses the 7-tone or diatonic scale to divide octaves, and much of folk music uses five tones. These preferences correspond to the most prevalent formant ratios in speech. Purves and his collaborators are now working on whether a given culture's preference for one subset of the tones over another is related to the formant relationships that are especially prevalent in the native language of that group.

Purves and his collaborators also think these findings may help explain a centuries-old debate in music over which tuning scheme for instruments works best. Ten of the 12 harmonic intervals identified in English and Mandarin speech occur in "just intonation" tuning, which sounds best to most trained musicians. They found fewer correspondences in other tuning systems, including the equal temperament tuning commonly used today.

Equal tempera ment tuning, in which each of the 12 interval distances in the chromatic scale is made exactly the same, is a scheme that enables an ensemble such as an orchestra to play together in different keys and across many octaves. Although equal temperament tuning sounds pretty good, it's a compromise on the more natural, vocally derived just intonation tuning system, Purves said.

The group's next study concerns our intuitive understanding that a musical piece tends to sound happy if its in a major key but relatively sad if it's in a minor key. That, too, may come from the characteristics of the human voice, Purves suggests.


'"/>




Related medicine news :

1. Identifying Virus Found To Be Essential for HIV Patients
2. Essential tremor can lead to dementia
3. Protein Found to Be Essential For Maintaining Nerve Health
4. MP’s Ask for Reduction of VAT on Condoms, Essential Health Ite
5. Easy Access To Healthcare Services Essential For Better Survival Rates
6. C-Myc Gene Essential for Immune System Function
7. Regular Exercise Is Essential To Keep Arteries Healthy
8. Omega 3 Supplements Is Very Essential For the Kids
9. Sleep Essential For A Strong Memory
10. Early Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression Is Very Essential Among New Mothers
11. Face-lift: Essentials for a youthful look
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... While it’s often important ... problem. Fortunately, an inventor from Austin, Texas, has identified a solution. , She developed ... darkness or restricted lighting. As such, it eliminates the need to turn on a ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Southern ... and Jennifer Huggins, PharmD ’17, along with clinical associate professor Janice Frueh, ... cardiovascular diseases during the 15th Annual Women’s Health Conference. The SIU School ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Somerset Hills ... specialty vendors and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed event will raise ... offered by the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, November 4 (10:00 ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Talented host, actor Rob Lowe, ... in a new episode of "Success Files," which is an award-winning educational program ... investigates each subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica occurs when the ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... First ... compliance program management, will showcase a range of technology and learning solutions at ... (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 at the Mandalay ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/25/2017)... R.I. , Sept. 25, 2017  EpiVax, ... assessment, vaccine design, and immune-engineering today announced the ... on the development of personalized therapeutic cancer vaccines. ... has provided exclusive access to enabling technologies to ... Eng., MBA will lead EpiVax Oncology as Chief ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ZirMed Inc ., a recognized leader in cloud-based revenue cycle ... ranked #1 by its users for the seventh consecutive year ... ZirMed was recognized as the top-ranked end-to-end revenue cycle management ... 200 beds and holds one of the longest #1 ranking ... ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... -- Consumer reviews on the independent review site Consumer Affairs ... for hearing aids, ranking it higher than Miracle Ear ™, ... ... Hearing Aids ... store that provides high performance, state-of-the-art, German-engineered hearing aids directly to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: