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Re: Minor third

My understanding of the "universal" is that you have to go to a children's playground
and listen to the kids calling to each other spontaneously (e.g., "Johnny is a baby, nah-
nah-na-nah-nah") and then you'll hear the minor 3rd -- independent of the content of the
name calling. Music teachers used this observation of the natural fall of the voice when
writing songs for children. Though I don't remember the details any longer, you may
want to ask an elementary school music teacher.

  Elyse Sussman

> I am curious just how "universal" this "universal" is. I have seen
> cases where what has been claimed as a universal is merely a case of
> ignoring any data that don't fit the model.  I haven't listened to
> street vendors lately (that being a disappearing breed in the US) but
> I have been to many basketball games and can't recall hearing too many
> cries of "Air Ball".  Either the crowd groans (if it's the home team)
> or shouts "Briiiick....".
> Any data?
> Brian Gygi
> Postdoctoral Fellow
> Speech and Hearing Research
> East Bay Institute for Research and Education
> Martinez, CA
> >To: pdivenyi@xxxxxxxxx
> >From: "Jeremy Day-O'Connell" <jdoc@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >Subject: Intoned calls
> >
> >Dear Professor Divenyi,
> >
> >I am a music theorist currently working on the possible linguistic
> >sources of certain stereotyped musical gestures.  I'm especially
> >interested in what I think of as "calling thirds" (what Ladd and
> >others have called "stylized intonation").
> >
> >Although I'm new to linguistics, I have been in touch with John
> >Ohala, who thought you might be of some assistance.
> >
> >I was wondering if you (or anyone you're aware of) has thought about
> >the purported universality of the minor third interval (give or take
> >a semitone) in stylized intonation -- the calls of street vendors,
> >the vocatives so widely cited by linguists, the cry of "Air ball!" at
> >basketball games....  For instance, in addition to Ohala's "frequency
> >code," might there be an "interval code"?
> >
> >(My own hypothesis is that the minor third represents a compromise
> >between two opposite tendencies, one vocal, one perceptual: 1) the
> >_smaller_ the interval, the easier to produce a consistent vocal tone
> >on the two notes; 2) the _larger_ the interval, the easier the task
> >of melodic "scene analysis" in noisy real-world situations.)
> >
> >I'd be grateful for any thoughts or references you might be able to
> >share.
> >
> >Yours,
> >Jeremy

Elyse Sussman, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1410 Pelham Parkway S
Bronx, NY  10461

Ph: 1-718-430-3313       Fax: 1-718-430-8821

EMAIL: esussman@xxxxxxxxxxxx