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Vocal Grid

An interesting thread, and I propose something like the following 'Vocal grid' to model the area.

Voice has two sources, oscillation and noise, (x axis) running from unvoiced (noise), through 'mixed' to (the psychometric ideas of): fuzzy, droning speech, speech, clear speech, intoned speech, melodic speech, bathtub singing, untrained voice, blues and Dylan, choral singing, solo voice, operatic.

Spectral content (y axis -- intensity of vowel production) runs as: mumbled, clear, articulate, BBC news reader, church choir, chorus, operatic, harmonic choir, Tuvan singing. There is another dimension here related to the relative intensity / clarity of the formation (clarity, precision) of formant frequencies, and the number of formants, Tuvan singing putting most of the acoustical energy into a single formant.

A highly trained (and skilled) singer will be able to move around much of the grid with relative ease, a public speaker will have control over a smaller area. The grid may work in quantized time, with a window size of (say) 40 - 70ms (14 - 25 Hz).

As a listener, I may have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (or more) identifiable classifications on the x axis, and 3, 4 (or more) on the y axis, tone deaf having fewer, and 'golden ear' having more. The boundaries will (likely) differ from individual to individual dependent upon 'native skill', focus (through intention or training) context, and cultural differences, among other things.

For the non-tone deaf individual, somewhere along the x axis, aspects of "music' begin to appear. For someone trained in a traditional musical tradition, there may be a larger (or smaller) area of 'music sound', as distinct from 'speech sound'. For some people, this may be a contextual variable. (The repetition of the phrase has changed the context and the mind may shift its classification from speech to 'music'.)

This idea posits that the 'musicality' of the phrase is not an inherent feature of the physical aspect of the sound, but is [entirely?] psychoacoustic in nature (although I am informed that I shouldn't use that term when I mean perception / cognition).

As far as I know, North Indian tabla players use syllables to represent different kinds (?) of rhythmic [metric] values, and in order to play, the drummer first 'sings'.

There is a rather unique extension of this idea in the music of Pandit Kamalash Maitra, the master of the Tabla Tarang http://www.amazon.com/Tabla-Tarang-Melody-Kamalesh-Maitra/dp/B000001DLH
there are four very short clips (which I hear phonetically ...)

I don't actually get an 'illusion' or a 'paradox' in Diana's examples, but I was listening to Reich's Come Out http://www.last.fm/music/Steve+Reich/_/Come+Out and It's Gonna Rain, while decoding Lucier's I am Sitting in a Room (clip found at http://www.amazon.com/Am-Sitting-Room-Alvin-Lucier/dp/B00000INI7 ) almost 40 years ago, so my senses and perception were corrupted long long ago.

Best wishes for the holidays.