Comparing the rhythm and melody of speech and music: the case of British English and French.
For over half a century, musicologists and linguists have suggested that the prosody of a culture's native language is reflected in the rhythms and melodies of its instrumental music. Testing this idea requires quantitative methods for comparing musical and spoken rhythm and melody. This study applies such methods to the speech and music of England and France. The results reveal that music reflects patterns of durational contrast between successive vowels in spoken sentences, as well as patterns of pitch interval variability in speech. The methods presented here are suitable for studying speech-music relations in a broad range of cultures.