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pitch interval distribution of speech

Vos & Troost (1989) showed that, in melodies from various world musics,
the frequency-of-occurrence distribution of intervals between successive
tones has a Poisson-shaped with a peak at around 2 semitones (your
typical scale step). No surprise, but it raises the question of the
perceptual origin of the distribution.

Hypothesis: speech exhibits a similar distribution - i.e. if you
determine the pitch  (or F0 at the P-centre?) of successive voiced
sounds in typical speech (I'm thinking about 4 voiced sounds per second)
then you also get a peak at an interval of about 2 semitones (say, 13 %
in frequency). Is there any data on this?

And another question - is it just a coincidence that this seems to
correspond to critical bandwidth, or could the correspondence be causal?

Since this list is getting a little overactive lately, please reply
privately. If I'm lucky enough to get several cogent replies, I'll
forward a summary to the list.

Richard Parncutt

Dept. of Musicology, Univ. of Graz, Mozartgasse 3, 8010 Graz, Austria
Tel+43-316 380-2409/-2405  Fax-9755  richard.parncutt@kfunigraz.ac.at


Vos, P.G., & Troost, J.M. (1989). Ascending and descending melodic
intervals: Statistical findings and their perceptual relevance. MP, 6,

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