LINGUIST List 14.2300

Tue Sep 2 2003

Sum: Meaning of Pitch in Music and Speech

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Marie Safarova, meaning of pitch in music and speech

Message 1: meaning of pitch in music and speech

Date: Tue, 02 Sep 2003 07:19:46 +0000
From: Marie Safarova <>
Subject: meaning of pitch in music and speech

A while ago I asked about references to literature regarding unified
analyses of the meaning of pitch in music and speech 
(Linguist 14.2205). Many thanks to all those who responded! -- the 
summary of their replies is attached below. Admittedly, the references
do not exactly address what I had in mind but they are still very

Best regards,
Marie Safarova
University of Amsterdam

from Suzette Haden Elgin:

- check out literature on pitch and emotions, e.g., the literature of
trial law -- in the legal journals, where there has been research
about the effects of intonation (largely the effects of acoustic
stress, heard as higher pitch) in the speech of judges, jurors, etc.;
or the literature of aviation and aerospace medicine, where until very
recently the physical/emotional state of a pilot might have to be
determined on the basis of spoken language alone; and finally, a
search in the literature of psychoacoustics (for instance the work of
Diana Deutsch) could give some useful sources.

from Shinji Ido:

- Hughes, David W. 2000. No nonsense: the logic and power of
acoustic-iconic mnemonic systems. British Journal of Ethnomusicology,
9/2. 95-122.

- RWCP Autonomous Learning Functions MRI Laboratory. 2003. Non-speech
Sound Recognition Using Japanese Onomatopoeia (1997-1998). ON

from Mike Cahill:

- an article at
on talking drums in northern Ghana.

from Steven Cushing:

- a reference to his article ''English as a Tone Language: The
Acoustics of Primary Stress,'' MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics
Quarterly Progress Report No. 92, January 1969, where he discusses the
difference between acoustic frequency and pitch in linguistic
vs. non-linguistic heard sound.

from Maartje Schreuder:

- Lerdahl, F. & R. Jackendoff (1983). A Generative Theory of Tonal
Music. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. an
- article by Dicky Gilbers and herself (and references therein), which
can be downloaded from .

from Ross Forman:
- Deryck Cooke's book The Meaning of Music (OUP 1959) 
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