June 14, 2024

Slower, higher-pitched songs are spoken all over the world

All over the world, people sing louder than they speak. The tempo of singing is also slower than that of spoken language in all cultures, a study in the journal Science Advances shows.

Editorial Board


May 16, 2024

Led by Yuto Ozaki of Keio University (Japan), 75 scholars from around the world examined traditional singing songs, the read lyrics of these songs, as well as spoken descriptions of the songs and instrumental versions of the tunes. Recording, compiling and analyzing them. In addition, there have been studies based on additional song recordings from around the world and audio recordings of people speaking 16 languages.

Language and music have become embedded in all cultures around the world – perhaps for a very long time. This has led researchers to speculate for a long time that both may not have evolved independently of each other and that both “modes” together also serve evolutionary functions.

“Global common denominator”

There is also speculation about whether, why and when these two forms of communication could have evolved from a possible common ancestor. What’s missing, however, is a truly coherent definition of the difference between spoken language and “song,” as well as scientific analyzes of the basic phonetic similarities and differences between different cultures, the researchers write in their work.

The new findings were largely consistent with the results of similar studies, most of which dealt only with English or other Indo-European languages, and with the research team’s assumptions prior to the evaluation. Although there are many exceptions, overall the new study provides clear evidence of “statistically universal” similarities and differences between speech and song in general across all language groups examined. (seda)