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ERIC Number: ED552573
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 161
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2679-6760-2
Crosslinguistic Perception of Pitch in Language and Music
Bradley, Evan David
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Delaware
This dissertation investigates the ways in which experience with lexical tone influences the perception of musical melody, and how musical training influences the perception of lexical tone. The central theoretical basis for the study is a model of perceptual learning, Reverse Hierarchy Theory (Ahissar et al., 2009), in which cognitive processes like language tune neural resources to provide the sensory information necessary for the perceptual task; these sensory resources are then available to other cognitive processes, like music, which rely on the same perceptual properties. This study proposes that the tone properties "pitch height," "pitch direction," and "pitch slope" correspond to the melodic properties "key," "contour," and "interval," respectively, and this correspondance underlies crossover effects between lexical tone and melody perception. Specifically, the study asks three questions: 1) whether differences in melody perception between tone and non-tone language speakers, and among speakers of different tone languages, can be linked to specific properties of the languages' tonal inventories; 2) whether melody perception is affected by second language experience with a tone language; and 3) whether musical ear-training leads to enhanced perception of lexical tone. To address (1), a standardized test of music perception (the Musical Ear Test; Wallentin et al. (2010)) was administered to tone (Mandarin and Yoruba) and nontone (English) language speakers. Tone language speakers demonstrate more accurate melody perception than English speakers; rather than a uniform advantage, however, this effect is limited to those specific properties argued to be shared between language and music. Further, Mandarin and Yoruba speakers do not perform identically on melodic perception, suggesting linguistic effects on melody perception are related to differences between the tonal inventories of the languages. Attempts to extend this hypothesis to second-language tone experience (2) were not successful; Mandarin learners did not perceive melody similarly to native speakers. Further study with more proficient second language speakers is necessary. The role of explicit perceptual music training (3) was examined by assessing the effects of aural skills training on musicians' perception of Mandarin lexical tones. The results reveal that this training did not lead to improvement in the perception of these tones in a similar fashion to native or second language speakers of Mandarin, but did change musicians' response bias toward the tones in a manner consistent the general hypothesis. This work attempts to better understand pitch perception within a theoretical framework of perceptual learning. Taken together, the results partially support the specific proposed mappings between structural properties of language and music, and more generally support a framework for explaining these and other cases of crossover between language and music. These findings address questions of cognitive modularity and the relationship between language and music, as well the role of sensory experience during development and adulthood. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A