Major and minor music compared to excited and subdued speech
The major and minor scales in Western music, shown on a piano keyboard (the abbreviations follow those in Table IA). The diatonic major scale contains only major intervals, whereas the all three diatonic minor scales substitute a minor interval at the third scale degree. Two also substitute a minor interval at the sixth scale degree, and one a minor interval at the seventh scale degree (the melodic minor scale is shown ascending; when descending it is identical to the natural minor). Thus the formal differences between the major and minor scales are in the third, sixth, and seventh scale degrees; the first, second, fourth, and fifth scale degrees are held in common.
The harmonic structure of speech sounds and musical intervals. (A) The spectrum of a voiced speech sound comprises a single harmonic series generated by the vibration of the vocal folds (the vertical green lines indicate the loci of harmonic peaks); the relative amplitude of the harmonics is modulated by the resonance of the rest of the vocal tract, thus defining speech formants (asterisks indicate the harmonic peaks of the first two formants, F1 and F2). The voiced speech segment shown here as an example was taken from the single word database and has a fundamental frequency of (black arrow in the lower panel). (B) The spectra of musical intervals entail two harmonic series, one from each of the two relevant notes (see text). The example in the upper panel shows the superimposed spectra of two musical notes related by a major third (the harmonic series of the lower note is shown in orange, and the harmonic series of the higher note in green, and the harmonics common to both series in brown). Each trace was generated by averaging the spectra of 100 recordings of tones played on an acoustic guitar with fundamentals of and , respectively; the recordings were made under the same conditions as speech (see Sec. II). The implied fundamental frequency (black arrow in the lower panel) is the greatest common divisor of the two harmonic series.
The fundamental frequencies of excited (red) and subdued (blue) speech segments for individual male and female speakers derived from (A) single word utterances and (B) monolog recordings; brackets indicate means. The differences between the two distributions are significant for each speaker ( or less in independent two-sample t-tests). The difference between the mean fundamentals of the excited and subdued distributions is also significant across speakers ( for single words, and for monologs in dependent t-tests for paired samples).
The implied fundamental frequencies of tonic thirds, sixths, and sevenths and melodic seconds in major and minor melodies from Western classical music (A) and Finnish folk music (B). Arrows indicate the mean implied fundamental frequency values for each distribution. The sparseness of the tonic interval data in (B) is a consequence of fewer different key signatures in our folk music sample compared to our sample of classical music (see Table II), as well as the fact that the classical melodies span more octaves than the folk melodies ( octaves vs octaves). Differences between the distributions of implied fundamental frequencies for major and minor melodies are statistically significant for each of the intervals compared ( or less in independent two-sample t-tests).
Comparison of the ratios of the first two formants in excited and subdued speech derived from analyses of the single word and monologue databases. Ratios have been collapsed into a single octave such that they range from 1 to 2. (A) The distribution of formant ratios in excited and subdued speech from the single word database; green bars indicate ratios within 1% of chromatic interval ratios (see Table IA); gray bars indicate ratios that did not meet this criterion. (B) The percentage of formant ratios corresponding to each chromatic interval in (A) for excited and subdued speech. (C) The same as (A), but for the monolog data. (D) The same as (B), but for the monolog data in (C). -values for each interval were calculated using the chi-squared test for independence, with expected values equal to the mean number of occurrences of an interval ratio across excited and subdued speech. Intervals empirically determined to distinguish major and minor music are underlined (dashed-lines indicate intervals with less marked contributions).
Western musical scales (also called modes). (A) The 12 intervals of the chromatic scale showing the abbreviations used, the corresponding number of semitones, and the ratio of the fundamental frequency of the upper tone to the fundamental frequency of the lower tone in just intonation tuning. (B) The seven diatonic scales/modes. As a result of their relative popularity, the Ionian and the Aeolian modes are typically referred to today as the major and minor scales, respectively. Although the Ionian and Aeolian modes and the scales they represent have been preeminent in Western music since the late 16th century, some of the other scales/modes continue to be used today. For example, the Dorian mode is used in plainchant and some folk music, the Phrygian mode is used in flamenco music, and the Mixolydian mode is used in some jazz. The Locrian and Lydian are rarely used because the dissonant tritone takes the place of the fifth and fourth scale degrees, respectively.
The distribution of the key signatures of the major and minor melodies we compiled from Barlow and Morgenstern’s Dictionary of Musical Themes (A) and the Finnish Folk Song Database (B). The number of melodies analyzed in each key is indicated to the right of each bar.
Examples of the excited and subdued monologues read by the speakers.
Frequency of occurrence of chromatic intervals in major and minor Western classical and Finnish folk music. (A) Tonic intervals; defined as the number of semitones between a melody note and its tonic. (B) Melodic intervals; defined as the number of semitones between adjacent melody notes. The preponderance of small intervals in (B) is in agreement with previous studies (Vos and Troost, 1989). The intervals that distinguish major and minor music are underlined (dashed-lines indicate intervals with less marked contributions).
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