~ AAWM/FMA 2019 - Birmingham» By Joren on Tuesday 02 July 2019
I am currently in Birmingham, UK at the 2019 at the joint Analytical Approaches to World Music (AAWM) and Folk Music Conference. The opening concert by the RBC folk ensemble already provided the most lively and enthusiastic conference opening probably ever. Especially considering the early morning hour (9.30). At the conference, two studies will be presented on which I collaborated:
Automatic comparison of human music, speech, and bird song suggests uniqueness of human scales
Automatic comparison of human music, speech, and bird song suggests uniqueness of human scales by Jiei Kuroyanagi, Shoichiro Sato, Meng-Jou Ho, Gakuto Chiba, Joren Six, Peter Pfordresher, Adam Tierney, Shinya Fujii and Patrick Savage
The uniqueness of human music relative to speech and animal song has been extensively debated, but rarely directly measured. We applied an automated scale analysis algorithm to a sample of 86 recordings of human music, human speech, and bird songs from around the world. We found that human music throughout the world uniquely emphasized scales with small-integer frequency ratios, particularly a perfect 5th (3:2 ratio), while human speech and bird song showed no clear evidence of consistent scale-like tunings. We speculate that the uniquely human tendency toward scales with small-integer ratios may relate to the evolution of synchronized group performance among humans.
Automatic comparison of global children’s and adult songs
Automatic comparison of global children’s and adult songs by Shoichiro Sato, Joren Six, Peter Pfordresher, Shinya Fujii and Patrick Savage
Music throughout the world varies greatly, yet some musical features like scale structure display striking crosscultural similarities. Are there musical laws or biological constraints that underlie this diversity? The “vocal mistuning” hypothesis proposes that cross-cultural regularities in musical scales arise from imprecision in vocal tuning, while the integer-ratio hypothesis proposes that they arise from perceptual principles based on psychoacoustic consonance. In order to test these hypotheses, we conducted automatic comparative analysis of 100 children’s and adult songs from throughout the world. We found that children’s songs tend to have narrower melodic range, fewer scale degrees, and less precise intonation than adult songs, consistent with motor limitations due to their earlier developmental stage. On the other hand, adult and children’s songs share some common tuning intervals at small-integer ratios, particularly the perfect 5th (~3:2 ratio). These results suggest that some widespread aspects of musical scales may be caused by motor constraints, but also suggest that perceptual preferences for simple integer ratios might contribute to cross-cultural regularities in scale structure. We propose a “sensorimotor hypothesis” to unify these competing theories.