ISCA Archive MAVEBA 2005
ISCA Archive MAVEBA 2005

Interaction patterns between melodies and resonance frequencies in infants' pre-speech utterances

Kathleen Wermke, Werner Mende, Anne Kempf, Claudia Manfredi, Piero Bruscaglioni, Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer

Melody, the time function of the fundamental frequency is a key quantity for characterizing infants’ utterances during the first months of life. However, additional quantities, describing the voluntary control of the vocal tract become increasingly important during pre-speech development. From a physiological point of view laryngeal phonation and vocal tract based articulation are anatomically different and independently controlled systems. For speech acquisition these two systems have to interact systematically. For instance, melody movements increasingly influence resonance frequencies of the vocal tract and vice versa. A prominent phenomenon of a melody - resonance frequency interaction is the increasing occurrence of periods of close parallel synchronous movements of melodies and lower resonance frequencies. We call such movements ‘tuning periods’ when a resonance frequency moves inside a close neighborhood, a ‘vicinity tube’, of one of the lower harmonics and when this situation lasts for at least 20 ms. Vicinity is given by our analysis bandwidth. Tuning develops either by movements of resonance frequencies to track the melody, or conversely, by movements of the melody to approach certain resonances, or by both processes taking place simultaneously. Here, the term ‘tuning’ is used in a purely descriptive sense, without considering the mechanisms that are producing this phenomenon as well as without considering what is cause or effect. It is not yet clear, how much mechanical couplings inside the vocal system contribute, and how much intentional neuro-physiological control contribute to the production of longer tuning periods. Another prominent feature of melody-resonance interaction is resonance frequency transition. Here, transition is defined as coherent and smooth movements of a resonance frequency from the vicinity of one harmonic to the vicinity of another harmonic. The duration of a transition depends on several factors, e.g., neuro-physiological maturity and integrity of the underlying control systems, achieved training level, type of utterance or syllable-structure. Such well-formed and smooth transitions and the abovementioned coherent tuning periods represent probably the predispositions for fast couplings (and de-couplings) of phonation and articulation and for acquiring the necessary flexibility for producing fast sequences of phonological structures in later fluent speech. At about babbling age, phonation and articulation are acting completely in concert. The production of babble - syllables is characterized by fast formant transitions which lay already within the time range of fluent speech.


Cite as: Wermke, K., Mende, W., Kempf, A., Manfredi, C., Bruscaglioni, P., Stellzig-Eisenhauer, A. (2005) Interaction patterns between melodies and resonance frequencies in infants' pre-speech utterances. Proc. Models and Analysis of Vocal Emissions for Biomedical Applications (MAVEBA 2005), 187-190

@inproceedings{wermke05_maveba,
  author={Kathleen Wermke and Werner Mende and Anne Kempf and Claudia Manfredi and Piero Bruscaglioni and Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer},
  title={{Interaction patterns between melodies and resonance frequencies in infants' pre-speech utterances}},
  year=2005,
  booktitle={Proc. Models and Analysis of Vocal Emissions for Biomedical Applications (MAVEBA 2005)},
  pages={187--190}
}