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Musical intervals in speech.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Ross, D; Choi, J; Purves, D
Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
June 2007

Throughout history and across cultures, humans have created music using pitch intervals that divide octaves into the 12 tones of the chromatic scale. Why these specific intervals in music are preferred, however, is not known. In the present study, we analyzed a database of individually spoken English vowel phones to examine the hypothesis that musical intervals arise from the relationships of the formants in speech spectra that determine the perceptions of distinct vowels. Expressed as ratios, the frequency relationships of the first two formants in vowel phones represent all 12 intervals of the chromatic scale. Were the formants to fall outside the ranges found in the human voice, their relationships would generate either a less complete or a more dilute representation of these specific intervals. These results imply that human preference for the intervals of the chromatic scale arises from experience with the way speech formants modulate laryngeal harmonics to create different phonemes.

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Published In

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

DOI

EISSN

1091-6490

ISSN

0027-8424

Publication Date

June 2007

Volume

104

Issue

23

Start / End Page

9852 / 9857

Related Subject Headings

  • Speech Acoustics
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Respiratory System
  • Phonetics
  • Music
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Language
  • Humans
  • Female
 

Citation

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Ross, D., Choi, J., & Purves, D. (2007). Musical intervals in speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(23), 9852–9857. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703140104
Ross, Deborah, Jonathan Choi, and Dale Purves. “Musical intervals in speech.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104, no. 23 (June 2007): 9852–57. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0703140104.
Ross D, Choi J, Purves D. Musical intervals in speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2007 Jun;104(23):9852–7.
Ross, Deborah, et al. “Musical intervals in speech.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 104, no. 23, June 2007, pp. 9852–57. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.0703140104.
Ross D, Choi J, Purves D. Musical intervals in speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2007 Jun;104(23):9852–9857.
Journal cover image

Published In

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

DOI

EISSN

1091-6490

ISSN

0027-8424

Publication Date

June 2007

Volume

104

Issue

23

Start / End Page

9852 / 9857

Related Subject Headings

  • Speech Acoustics
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Respiratory System
  • Phonetics
  • Music
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Language
  • Humans
  • Female