Oral and Aural Communication Interconnection: The Substrate for Global Musicality

Oral and Aural Communication Interconnection: The Substrate for Global Musicality

Dionysios Politis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) and Miltiadis Tsalighopoulos (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0264-7.ch001


Speech science is a key player for music technology since vocalization plays a predominant role in today's musicality. Physiology, anatomy, psychology, linguistics, physics and computer science provide tools and methodologies to decipher how motor control can sustain such a wide spectrum of phonological activity. On the other hand, aural communication provides a steady mechanism that not only processes musical signals, but also provides an acoustic feedback that coordinates the complex activity of tuned articulation; it also couples music perception with neurophysiology and psychology, providing apart from language-related understanding, better music experience.
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Phonetics and speech science have been incorporated into our discourse for quite some time. These terms refer to how the phonetic instrument, within its anatomic formations, contributes to the global substrate of our everyday sonification.

Human language is studied intensively by IT systems and it is a focal point for global communication in its synchrony and diachrony; it is estimated that currently some 7,200 languages are spoken daily, and many of them are voiced not particularly changed for centuries or even millenniums (Anderson, 2012; Langscape, 2015) Moreover, some 75% of music heard day-to-day arranges speech elements alongside orchestration, bringing the ability to express thoughts and feelings as a direct outcome of speech communication to the forefront. Therefore, music becomes a multilayered activity that combines instrumental sounds, with whatever this may seem to mean, along with vocal hearings that produce as a final outcome an activity characterized by the beauty of its form.

Indeed, the musical revolutions of the 21st and 20th centuries have increased the potential for music perception: most of the music heard daily is reproduced music and not a live performance. However, music is no longer a synonym of only listening melody and tune, but it incorporates within its reproduction systems theatrical activity, like dancing or audiovisual interaction, not contrived to stage managed effects but ranging up to sequences of moving images. Undeniably, the most thematic contingently produced music is the kind that accompanies motion pictures; TV and the cinematographic industry seem to be a major instigating force that produces music to new frontiers of expression, dynamics and motif impression (Cox & Warner, 2007).

Although images and tunes have more or less a global awareness, the linguistic content of music is limited by the neurophysiological understanding of its sonic content; the distinct conceptuality of the wording is achieved to a high degree when understanding of the language or family of languages for the lyrics performed is attained.

And yet, while most people in this planet enjoy a reasonable understanding of English, thus making music more or less driven by the English language mentality, the mother tongue of a specific region designates the preeminent prosody characteristics that have been contrived for many centuries in the semantics and semiotics of the written form. The scientific study of language phenomena tries to intermingle the study of signs and symbols with biological, social, cultural and historic folds that have shaped the development of each language.

Furthermore, not all people can perform music instrumentally; as a matter of fact, the ones that have a substantial knowledge of orchestrated music reproduction are rather few. Therefore, it comes in handy to seek measurement of aural perception via its conjugate musical linguistic performance. In this case, we do not seek to detect merely the speech disorders, like hesitations, false starts or phonetic errors; on the contrary, we elevate the measurements to the level of interdisciplinary science, where strong anatomical and physiological components are involved. The nature of musicality then is dependent on the anatomical structure of the vocal tract, indeed a complex and highly coordinated process that exerts delicate motor control on articulation. Phonation by itself is dependent on the listening channel, i.e. the ability to dip into the musical codes, dependent on the spectrum of sounds heard, and predominantly, on the way they are “translated” as a cerebral activity. In fact, it is still dark on certain points of the higher cortical functions that organize human language. It is also obscure how intricate muscular commands control at the high end the vocal tract and allow thought to be transformed to recognizable speech and melodious accomplishment in music (Colton & Estill, 1981).

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