Hidden Connections Between Linguistic and Musical Melody

Aniruddh D. Patel, The Neurosciences Institute

In 1985 Dwight Bolinger remarked ``Since intonation is synonymous with speech melody, and melody is a term borrowed from music, it is natural to wonder what connection there may be between music and intonation.'' While there is a long history of curiosity about connections between music and intonation, only recently have empirical methods begun to be systematically applied to this issue. In this talk I will describe two lines of research which reveal non-obvious connections between the structure and processing of speech intonation and musical melody. One line uses tools from phonetics to examine the old idea that a culture’s instrumental music reflects the prosody of its spoken language. The other line uses empirical methods from the cognitive sciences to investigate the relationship between musical tone deafness and speech intonation perception. Together, these lines of work point to a greater degree of overlap between intonation and musical melody than has generally been appreciated.