BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Global music recordings support the motor constraint hypothesis for human and avian song contour

    Savage, P. and Tierney, Adam and Patel, A. (2017) Global music recordings support the motor constraint hypothesis for human and avian song contour. Music Perception 34 (3), pp. 327-334. ISSN 0730-7829.

    Savage_Tierney_Patel_Contour_MS_Resubmission_Without_Line_Numbers.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

    Download (1MB) | Preview


    There has recently been renewed interest in using quantitative data to explore questions about musical universals. One explanation for certain musical universals is that they reflect ways of singing that are most energetically efficient , as opposed to biological specializations for human music . Previous research found support for this "motor constraint hypothesis" by comparing pitch contour shapes in sample s of human and avian song s, but the sample of human song s was limited to notated scores of European and Chinese folk songs from the Essen database. Here we attempt to test this hypothesis using a more diverse global sample of human music recordings from the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music . By directly comparing pitch contour shapes in a diverse sample of human songs and bird songs , we found that both human and bird songs tend to employ similar descending / arched melodic contours despite substantial differences in absolute pitch and duration. This preference was consistent for both Western and non - Western songs. Surprisingly, w e also found that the global samples of human and bird song contours were signific antly more correlated with one another than either was with the Essen contours . Our findings of broad cross - cultural and cross - species parallels support the motor constraint hypothesis for melodic contour . More generally, our findings demonstr ate the importance of greater collaboration between ethnomusicology and music psychology.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Published by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Cross-cultural, melodic contour, audio analysis, music evolution, bird song
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Adam Tierney
    Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2017 12:15
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:25


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item