Aniruddh D. Patel

in Music, Language, and the Brain

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195123753
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848034 | DOI:

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While conventional dictionary definitions would commonly set the concept of melody in the context of musical time, such definitions fall short because melody cannot be confined to music—the term is also used by linguists to refer to organized patterns of pitch within speech. Melody, if defined as “an organized sequence of pitches that conveys a rich variety of information to a listener” may be able to cover both speech and music for two different reasons. For one, melodies are sequences of tone that contain a wide variety of information. Also, such tone sequences stimulate rich mental patterns for the listener. To address how music and speech compare in terms of cognitive processing and structure, this chapter concentrates on intonation—organized sequences of pitch at the postlexical level. Also, the chapter studies how music is linked with linguistic intonation that suggests structural information.

Keywords: musical time; organized pitch patterns; mental patterns; structural information; cognitive structure; cognitive processing; postlexical level; intonation

Chapter.  23568 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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