Rhythmic Correspondence between Music and Speech in English Vocal Music

Xi Chen, Peggy Pik Ki Mok


This study aims to investigate the rhythmic structures of music and speech, and to find out the possible corresponding rhythmic patterns between the two domains in English vocal music. With fifteen English songs as samples, lexical stress of multi-syllabic words is compared with three musical dimensionsmetrical stress, duration, and pitch respectively. It is found that in the chosen English songs, there is a good mapping between the metrical stress of music and the lexical stress of lyrics. In addition, the duration and the pitch patterns not only generally match lexical stress patterns most of the time, but also serve to manifest the prominence of the primary lexical stress on one hand, and to reflect the weakness of the unstressed syllables on the other. Except a general good match in rhythm, this study also shows matching differences within the three comparisons. Matching degrees vary according to different meter patterns. Moreover, pitch takes priority over duration in their respective matching with lexical stress of the lyrics. Finally, the primarily stressed syllables match duration and pitch patterns much better than the unstressed ones do. Index Terms: Musical rhythm, Speech rhythm, English songs


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-132

Cite as: Chen, X., Mok, P.P.K. (2014) Rhythmic Correspondence between Music and Speech in English Vocal Music. Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014, 723-727, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-132.


@inproceedings{Chen2014,
  author={Xi Chen and Peggy Pik Ki Mok},
  title={{Rhythmic Correspondence between Music and Speech in English Vocal Music}},
  year=2014,
  booktitle={Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014},
  pages={723--727},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-132},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-132}
}