Globally, songs and instrumental melodies are slower and higher and use more stable pitches than speech: A Registered Report

Ozaki, Yuto; Tierney, Adam; Pfordresher, Peter Q.; McBride, John M.; Benetos, Emmanouil; Proutskova, Polina; Chiba, Gakuto; Liu, Fang; Jacoby, Nori; Purdy, Suzanne C.; Opondo, Patricia; Fitch, W. Tecumseh; Hegde, Shantala; Rocamora, Martín; Thorne, Rob; Nweke, Florence; Sadaphal, Dhwani P.; Sadaphal, Parimal M.; Hadavi, Shafagh; Fujii, Shinya; Choo, Sangbuem; Naruse, Marin; Ehara, Utae; Sy, Latyr; Parselelo, Mark Lenini; Anglada-Tort, Manuel; Hansen, Niels Chr.; Haiduk, Felix; Færøvik, Ulvhild; Magalhães, Violeta; Krzyżanowski, Wojciech; Shcherbakova, Olena; Hereld, Diana; Barbosa, Brenda Suyanne; Varella, Marco Antonio Correa; van Tongeren, Mark; Dessiatnitchenko, Polina; Zar, Su Zar; El Kahla, Iyadh; Muslu, Olcay; Troy, Jakelin; Lomsadze, Teona; Kurdova, Dilyana; Tsope, Cristiano; Fredriksson, Daniel; Arabadjiev, Aleksandar; Sarbah, Jehoshaphat Philip; Arhine, Adwoa; Meachair, Tadhg Ó; Silva-Zurita, Javier; Soto-Silva, Ignacio; Millalonco, Neddiel Elcie Muñoz; Ambrazevičius, Rytis; Loui, Psyche; Ravignani, Andrea; Jadoul, Yannick; Larrouy-Maestri, Pauline; Bruder, Camila; Teyxokawa, Tutushamum Puri; Kuikuro, Urise; Natsitsabui, Rogerdison; Sagarzazu, Nerea Bello; Raviv, Limor; Zeng, Minyu; Varnosfaderani, Shahaboddin Dabaghi; Gómez-Cañón, Juan Sebastián; Kolff, Kayla; der Nederlanden, Christina Vanden Bosch; Chhatwal, Meyha; David, Ryan Mark; Setiawan, I. Putu Gede; Lekakul, Great; Borsan, Vanessa Nina; Nguqu, Nozuko and Savage, Patrick E.. 2024. Globally, songs and instrumental melodies are slower and higher and use more stable pitches than speech: A Registered Report. Science Advances, 10(20), eadm9797. ISSN 2375-2548 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Both music and language are found in all known human societies, yet no studies have compared similarities and differences between song, speech, and instrumental music on a global scale. In this Registered Report, we ana- lyzed two global datasets: (i) 300 annotated audio recordings representing matched sets of traditional songs, re- cited lyrics, conversational speech, and instrumental melodies from our 75 coauthors speaking 55 languages; and (ii) 418 previously published adult-directed song and speech recordings from 209 individuals speaking 16 languages. Of our six preregistered predictions, five were strongly supported: Relative to speech, songs use (i) higher pitch, (ii) slower temporal rate, and (iii) more stable pitches, while both songs and speech used similar (iv) pitch interval size and (v) timbral brightness. Exploratory analyses suggest that features vary along a “musi-linguistic” continuum when including instrumental melodies and recited lyrics. Our study provides strong empirical evidence of cross- cultural regularities in music and speech.

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Funding: This work is supported by funding from the New Zealand and Japanese governments, the European Research Council, the Yamaha Corporation, and Keio University as follows: Marsden Fast-Start Grant from the Royal Society Te Apārangi (MFP-UOA2236 to P.E.S., S.C.P., P.O., N.J., E.B., and W.T.F.), Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society Te Apārangi (RDF-UOA2202 to P.E.S.), KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (#19KK0064 to P.E.S., S.F., and N.J.), Support for Pioneering Research Initiated by the Next Generation from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JPMJSP2123 to Y.O. and G.C.), Collaborative Research Grant from the Yamaha Corporation (to P.E.S. and S.H.), Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (grant number 754513) and Horizon Europe European Research Council (grant number 101045747) to Hansen, European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC-StG-2015, CAASD, and 678733) to Liu, and Keio University International Journal Article Publication Fee Grant (type A) to P.E.S. for article processing charges.

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All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Analysis code and data (fixed permanent repository) is available at Analysis code is available at data are available at

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19 April 2024Accepted
15 May 2024Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Jun 2024 09:26

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2024 09:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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